November 06, 2012

Alauddin's Tomb & Madrasa Complex, New Delhi

The ancient lords of Delhi did almost everything at a grand scale – the magnificence surpassed everything else that any mortal might have seen, with the sole objective of overawing their subjects & intimidating their enemies. The grandeur with which the daily proceedings were conducted & the magnitude at which buildings were constructed was perhaps unmatched in the rest of the world. & why shouldn’t it be so – they had all the wealth in the world to spend, all the resources required to leave their imprint on this ethereal world. It is no wonder then that when Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316 AD), of the Khilji Dynasty which ruled over India from AD 1290-1320, returned to Delhi after a successful campaign in the Deccan (Central India – parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh) bringing with him great loot & plunder, he started comparing himself to God himself & wanted to begin a new religion under his name & propagate it through the blade of his sword. However he was placated by Ala-ul-Mulk, Kotwal (police chief) of Delhi. Alauddin then decided to focus on more worldly issues & before furthering his expansionist plans he embarked on several religious projects to propitiate Allah. He expanded the mosque Quwwat-ul-Islam (literally the “might of Islam”) in Delhi, added a new gateway to it (called Alai Darwaza), & even began the construction of a new minaret which was supposed to signify the increase in power of Islam & also of his own. Besides this he decided to build a madrasa (religious school, meant for imparting Islamic learning) next to the Quwwat mosque. The madrasa survives, but lies in a dilapidated condition now. Looking at the ruins one can imagine the grandeur of the place – standing out as an L-shaped building, the madrasa was one imposing edifice. Even today the madrasa stands out from the rest of the buildings in terms of its scale, despite its simplicity. Who could have imagined that once students studied in such huge buildings..must have been pretty intimidating being here!! The madrasa also houses Alauddin’s tomb, though the dome that covered it had fallen long time back. Perhaps as retribution from the God whom Alauddin antagonised. Alauddin was the first Indian ruler to follow the tradition of building the tomb within a madrasa. He also incorporated several Islamic architectural practices & motifs within the Indian style of construction.

Vestiges of what was once Alauddin's Tomb & Madrasa Complex

Shorn of all ornamentation that must have once covered its mighty walls (after all Alauddin would not have left this structure built under his watch unadorned, look how he bedecked Alai Darwaza), the madrasa-tomb complex stands only in the form of massive stone walls around a quadrangular court, fragmented at places, completely ruined at others. At least the colossal gateways still stand & the blackened domes of the madrasa did not fall off!! But then what God stopped short of doing, tourists did to the madrasa – even now one can spot several names & etchings left atop the domes by love-struck tourists. Alauddin certainly must be heaving in his eternal sleep!!

More remains!!

Location : Qutb Complex, Mehrauli, New Delhi
Open : Sunrise to Sunset
Entrance fee : Indians - Rs 10, Foreigners - Rs 250
Photography charges : Nil
Video charges : Rs 25
Nearest Metro Station : Saket Metro Station & Qutb Minar Station are equidistant.
How to reach : Taxis, buses & autos can be availed from different parts of the city. The structures are quite a walk from the metro stations & one will have to take bus/auto from there on.
Time required for sightseeing : 30 min
Facilities available : Wheelchair access, Audio guides.
Relevant Links -

  1. Pixelated Memories - Alai Darwaza
  2. Pixelated Memories - Qutb Complex
  3. Pixelated Memories - Qutb Minar
  4. Pixelated Memories - Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque


  1. Didn't know this facet of Alauddin's personality.. Thanks for bringing it to light..

  2. Looks like a rather drab place from the photos..

  3. well researched..n comprehensive gud job!

  4. Nice! like the fact that the post is short and engaging!

  5. Informative Post...Nice clicks...