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Delhi - the resilient city


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the-south-asian.com                         December  2000

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Delhi - the resilient city



AD 1300 – AD 1400

1296 – 1316 – Alauddin Khilji ruled Delhi for almost 20 years. He built a new city Siri, madrasas [schools], and water reservoirs. Amir Khusro wrote in his time. Amir Khusro – poet/musician. Real name Abdul Hassan. Called himself Sultani and Amir Khusro. Father a Muslim and mother a Hindu. Wrote in Hindi and Persian.

1311 – Constructed the Alai Darwaza – considered byalai_darwaza.jpg (28724 bytes) some as the finest building in the Qutab Minar complex. It is a cube made of sandstone and marble.

1316 – Alauddin Khilji died. Weak successors.

1320 – Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah died. His successor Nasiruddin Mohammad killed by Ghiasuddin Tughlaq who took control of Delhi.

1320 – 1325 – During his five-year reign, Ghiasuddinwalls_tughlaqabad.jpg (17954 bytes) Tughlaq built a new city called Tughlaqabad. River Jamuna receded and the new city became deserted. He married a Hindu princess and so did his son Juna.

1324 – Khwaja Nizamuddin– Sufi saint, dervish of Ghiaspur, the first Sufi in Delhi passed away. Buried in the centre of the Nizamuddin mosque courtyard. Hazrat Roshan Chiragh named his successor. Amir Khusro also passed away few weeks later. Also buried in the Nizamuddin mosque.

1325 - Ghiasuddin Tughlaq died as an archway fell on him. His son Mohammad bin Tughlaq succeeded him.

1325 – 1351 – Mohammad bin Tughlaq built his own capital Jahanpanah. Barni chronicler of Tughlaq.

1327 – moved capital from Delhi to Daulatabad – 700 miles south of Delhi. Thousands of citizens died in this enforced move.

1332 – Moved back to Delhi.

1351 – Mohammad bin Tughlaq died near Thatta

1351 – His nephew Feroz Shah Tughlaq ascended throne of Delhi. An enlightened ruler, he founded 70 dispensaries and a hospital. Raised mosques, caravanserais, madrasas, canals. Gave sanctuary to people fleeing Timur’s wrath. Built Firozabad close to the river Yamuna. On the top of his palace Firoze had planted a pillar of Ashoka’s time bearing Buddhist inscriptions. After Feroze, weak Tughlaqs in Delhi.

1398 - Timur defeated Mahmud Tughlaq, entered the regal city of Delhi and laid it to waste. The capital was at the time held by Mallu Khan. Timur looted and plundered, took away the riches, elephants, craftsmen, and bequeathed the sultanate to his grandson Mohammad. Estimated that 50,000- 500,000 people killed. Only Delhi’s stonemasons and elephants were spared and taken along to Samarkand. Wealth looted from Delhi would last Timur’s men many generations. On the way back ransacked Meerut and laid waste Lahore in March 1399. Destroyed many temples. Beheaded Hindu priests. Mass burning and pillage of Delhi. City in flames. The rampage in Delhi left so many dead that no one left to bury the dead. Delhi deserted for many months. Left behind unprecedented carnage – famine and plague followed. Timur was 60 at the time – 5 years earlier he had destroyed Baghdad, 3 years earlier had devastated Russian territory.

People of note who lived in Delhi1300-1400: Isami – Delhi poet; Nizamuddin – Sufi saint, dervish of Ghiaspur, the first Sufi in Delhi; Barni – chronicler of Mohammad bin Tughlaq; Amir Khusro – poet/musician. Real name Abdul Hassan. Called himself Sultani and Amir Khusro. Father a Muslim and mother a Hindu. Wrote in Hindi and Persian; Amir Hassan Dehlvi – another poet and friend of Khusro.


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