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The Dark Gate, the Dungeons, the royal escape route and more: survey of Tughluqabad, second interim report

  • Mehrdad Shokoohy and Natalie H. Shokoohy


Tughluqabad, situated 18 kilometres south-east of New Delhi, is the oldest surviving sultanate town in India. It was built by Sultan Ghiyāth al-dīn Tughluq between 1320 and 1323, and its well preserved walls, its street layout and the remains of its buildings provide us with the earliest existing example of Indo-Muslim urban planning and its architectural components. The town was designed by Ahmad b. Ayāz, an Anatolian architect and a nobleman of the Tughluq court, who was responsible for the design of many of the early Tughluq buildings1 and who was later raised to the rank of Grand Vizier at the time of Muhammad b. Tughluq (1325–51), but was put to death by Fīrūz Shāh Tughluq (1351–88) in the early days of his reign.



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1 Muḥammad, b. ՙAbd'ullāh called Ibn Baṭṭūta, Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār fī gharā' ib al-amṣār wa ՙaja'ib al-asfār, ed. Harb, Talal (Beirut, 1987), 432, 461; al-dīn Barnī, Ḍiyā', Tārīkh-i Fīrūz Shāhī (Calcutta: Bibliotheca Indica, Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1862), 452453. Ghiyāth al-dīn Tughluq himself was originally from a Turkish tribe of Khurāsān (in the words of Ibn Baṭṭūta (p. 458) the mountainous region between Sind and Turkistan, i.e. modern Afghanistan), and most of his life was spent as the governor of Mūltān, a former Ghaznavid province the Muslim architecture of which was linked mainly with Khurāsān rather than India.

2 Barnī, 547; ՙAfif, Shams Sirāj, Tārīkh-i Fīrūz Shāhī, (Calcutta: Bibliotheca Indica, Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1891), 77.

3 Shokoohy, Mehrdad and Shokoohy, Natalie H., ‘Tughluqabad, the earliest surviving town of the Delhi Sultanate’, BSOAS, LVII, 1994, 516550, pls. I XVI.

32 Schlumberger, Daniel, Lashkari Bazar, une résidence royale ghaznévide el ghoride (two parts), Mémoires de la délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan, xvm (Paris, 1978), vol. 1 b, pls. 25, 61f, 80a and f, 101c.

33 Shokoohy, M. and Shokoohy, N. H., Hiṣār-i Fīrūza (London, 1988), 17, 21, 27, figs. 6, 9, pls. III e, IV d.

34 Shams Sirāj, 126.

35 Pādishāh, Muḥammad, Farhang-i Ānand Rāj, ed. Siyaqi, Muhammad Dabir (Tehran, 19561957) 1, 777 and III, 2526; Mīr Jamāl al-dīn Ḥusain b. Fakhr al-dīn Ḥasan Anjū Shīrāzī, Farhang-i Jahāngīrī, ed. Rahim ՙAfifi, III, 346; Tabrīzī, Muḥammad Ḥusain Khalaf, Burhān-i Qāṭiȯ, ed. Muՙin, Muhammad (Tehran, 1983) II, 1200.

36 Dehkhodā, Aliakbar, Loghatnāme (Encyclopedic Dictionary), ed. Moՙin, Mohammad and Shahidi, Jaՙfar (Tehran, 19931994), VIII, 12230, for bandī khāna see III, 4365. The infamous Black Hole of Calcutta was the prison of Fort William, see Busteed, H. E., Echoes from old Calcutta (2nd ed., Calcutta, 1888), 149, frontispiece fig. for a conjectural view of the Black Hole, and (London edn., 1908) 385 92, in particular the plan of Fort William in 1756 facing p. 390. The term seems to be a direct translation of the Persian siyāh chāl.

37 Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, 461; Barnī, 476.

38 Page, J. A., A Memoir on Kotlā Fīrūz Shāh, Delhi (Delhi: Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, no. 52, 1937), see pp. 611 of the Persian extract from the Sīrat-i Fīrūz Shāhī, and monochrome pls. 1–3 in the same section.

39 Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, 432; Shahāb al-dīn Abu'l-ՙAbbās Aḥmad b. Yahyā known as Fadl'ullāh al-ՙUmarī, Ibn, Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣar, tr. in Eliot, H. M. and Dowson, J., The history of India as told by its own historians (London, 1871), III, 610611.


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