Tughlaqabad–Beyond the cursed fort


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1 March, 2015 – Sunday

On 1st of March, we were all set to gather at Tughlaqabad for an amazing Heritage Walk. And then suddenly, the rain god decided to bless us with a pre-Holi shower. Organizing team started getting messages about cancelling the walk. But then we decided, let’s change the theme. We informed everyone that its time to relive our childhood and cherish the memories of dancing in rain.


Despite of storm, 45 people reached Tughlaqabad. Our friends from Western Digital sponsored water and snacks for the walk. Miraculously, the rain stopped minutes before we were to start. We headed to the Bijai Mandal, the highest spot in Tughlaqabad. This 6 km long fort has numerous secrets hidden under its soil. We kept stopping at strategic locations and discussing the importance of each bend and bastion.

We discussed how Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (ra) cursed the fort and how the transition from Khilji to Tughlaq happened, and what role the sufi saints had to play in it. We also discussed the Mughal stay in the Fort, before moving to the Water pit. Enroute water pit, we explored the bathing tank, which some suggested, could be an ablution zone. Though we were not able to find a mosque nearby, the claim was not baseless. Major discussion at the Water pit broke out. Topic was whether this is a baoli or a simple storage tank. Everyone had interesting facts to state.

By this time, the drizzle re-started and it was time to head to the tomb of Ghiasuddin Tughlaq. With loads of snacks and drinks, we sat their and discussed about Ashoka and Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Walk ended with a happy note, where everyone on the peak of their excitement said good bye, with a promise of coming back soon, and continue the discussions.

Nepal Heritage Trip


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People were excited for this long awaited heritage hunt. Finally on 30th January 2015, 8 members of Youth for Heritage Foundation gathered at the Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi. We cleared all formalities much ahead of scheduled time so that the Duty Free could be explored. And hence started our window-shopping :).



Day 1 – Kathmandu


Air India’s plane took off and we landed in Kathmandu on time. Our van was waiting, which took us to our Hotel. After check-in, the first thing was to head to the Durbar Square of Kathmandu. Luckily, it was at walking distance. We started walking and clicking. In about 20 minutes, we entered the Durbar Square, just to find out that there is some procession going on. We purchased tickets and started exploring the temple square. we found the entry to Royal Palace, which was now converted to a museum. The main temple was locked as it opens only once a year. But we able to see it from outside. The museum was amazing. Loaded with pictures and personal items of the Nepalese royal family, this museum was unique. The 9 storeyed palace was a surprise. Decorated with personal items of the Royal Family, this palace was a treat in itself.

The YFHF Logo

emblemNepali architecture has always been a mystery for many. This is where we found that the emblem of Youth for Heritage Foundation is actually a Hindu/Buddhist motif. It is known as the “Eternal Knot” or the “Infinite Knot”. In Sanskrit, it is called “Srivastsa”. It is a classic icon of reality, that represent the interconnected world and endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. It mirrors infinity and wisdom of Lord Buddha.


World Peace Pagoda

Our van took us to magnificent Swambhunath stupa up on the hill. We sat in a cafe next to the Stupa and enjoyed amazing tea/coffee with a view of entire Kathmandu Valley. Huge stupa on one side gave the majestic feel. We spent more than an hour in that chilling windy weather. As the sun began to set, we continued our journey to the Hotel.


We reached hotel after sunset, Freshened up, met at the reception, and headed to the market. We went to Garden of Dreams, got a nice place to sit and enjoyed some historic stories. Post our stories, we wanted to have nice pizza, but the pizzeria we chose was over booked and had a long waiting queue. We had to settle for a small roadside restaurant, but it turned out to be a better choice. Food and Tea was amazing.

Day ended with a tight sleep in our cozy beds.



Day 2 – Bhaktapur


LordBuddhaWe started our day by paying homage to Lord Buddha at the Boudhnath Stupa. The stupa is amazing and surrounded by many historic monasteries. Each one has its own importance. Giant Buddha Statue in one of the monasteries took our breath away.

The day was filled with spirituality. Our next stop was world famous Pashupatinath Temple of Lord Shiva. We felt blessed in the aura of these holy shrines. Some team members engaged the priests of Pashupatinath and had interesting conversations. First hand information by the locals is always a treat to listen to.


After having our souls purified, we headed to Bhaktapur Heritage City. This sub-city is a magnet for Heritage Lovers. Loaded with ancient architecture and culture, Bhaktapur has something different and special to offer at each step. We explored almost every corner of the city. From temples to museums, the place was nothing less than some hidden treasure.


On our return, we decided to get down on the main market road. After checking out the shops, we reached a restaurant, which had a familiar branding. We then found out that it was a franchisee of Bikanerwala of Delhi. Food was awesome there and more special was “Tato Tato Jalebi”, which somehow, Tauseef read as “Tota Tota Jalebi”.

Day 2 ended with nice veg dinner at a Pure Punjabi restaurant and a cozy sleep in our beds.


Day 3 – Patan

We started our last day with shopping. Everyone got something or other for their friends and family. Then we headed to Patan Heritage Zone. Temple Architecture of Patan was even more beautiful than what we had seen in last two days. Clearly, we were saving the best for the last. After clicking few temples, we chose a roof-top restaurant and enjoyed our food with a backdrop of Patan Durbar Square.


Our flight was also on time. We reached airport, had some fun while waiting for the boarding to happen, and finally, boarded the plane. While the landing was not so smooth, it sparked laughter amongst the team member as we thought that the Pilot has not got his salary on time and he is trying to punish the airline by damaging ‘Shockers’ of this aircraft.


In short, the trip to Nepal was something that we would remember for lifetime.

A Peek at the Past-The Palace of Thousand Pillars–‘Qasr-i-Hazar Sutoon’


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“Qasr-i-Hazar Sutoon” – the palace of a thousand pillars built by Ala-ud-din Khilji in Jahanpanah-fourth medieval city of Delhi, no longer exists, but its memories and traces reverberate through time.

The exquisitely carved wooden pillars of the palace could not with stand the vagaries of time, but their traces are embedded in the sands of time. Lying scattered on the ground, near Bijaya Mandal, the palace of Muhamamd bin Tughlaq, there is a series of rectangular stone blocks. These are pillar bases present in significant numbers all around the existing halls. These pillar bases have led to the identification of the mystical ‘Hazar Sutoon’, the hall of thousand pillars.

Bijay Mandal

Bijay Mandal is a building with a proportioned square dome. It cannot be categorized as a tower or a palace. It is a typical Tughlaqi structure with an octagonal plan built in rubble masonry (with massive battered sloping walls on east, west and southern directions) on a raised platform with doorways in North, South, East and West direction.

The purpose of this unusual structure and the ruins of the Sar Dara Palace was described by Ibn Battuta as the palace with multiple chambers and the large public audience hall as the famed Hazar Sutoon Palace. It was also interpreted as serving as an observation tower to monitor the activities of his troops.

Nothward from the terrace, down below is the dargah of Sufi saint Shaikh Hasan Tahir, who lived during the reign of Sikandar Lodi, in the 1500s. So this is a much later structure, and the grave of the saint is shaded by an enormous tree. Looking to the west, is a raised platform, or chabutra, which was probably the Diwan-i-Khas of the palace, where the Sultan would meet his close advisors.

Dargah, Sheikh Hasan

Dargah of Shaikh Hasan Tahir in Bijay Mandal

To the east is the Diwan-i-Am which may have been called the Hazaar Sutoon, or Hall of a Thousand Pillars, which probably extended over two floors. The pillars were wooden, and all that remains are the holes in the ground where the pillars were pegged.

The Entrance to the pillared hall described by Ibn-Batuta

Bijay Mandal

Bijaya Mandal

Bijai Mandal or Badf Mandal, which Sir Sayyid rightly calls Badf Manzil (wonderful mansion). He maintains that it was a tower of the Hazar Sutoon palace of Jahanpanah. It was extremely beautiful and elegant. In it was built a room with four doors. The room led up to a summer pavilion which no longer exists. Sir Sayyid holds the view that the tower was used by the emperor for inspecting the army below. But it has now been identified as the Hall of Special Audience. It is probably the same Mashvar (hall of audience) which Ibn Battuta frequently mentions. In it have been discovered two pits, which served perhaps as treasure houses. Sir Sayyid is right in regarding the ‘Badf Manzil’ as a part of the Hazar Sutoon Palace. It is evident from the Rihla and is confirmed by the excavations. It is supposed that walking from the Badf Manzil the emperor used to descend by a broad terrace to his thousand-pillared hall, where he gave public audience to such of his subjects as might have petitions to present to him.

Qasr-i-Hazar Sutoon

Hazar Sutoon Palace was located within the fortified area of the Jahnapanah in Bijaya Mandal (literal meaning in Hindi: ‘victory platform’). The grand palace with its audience hall (Hazar Sutoon) of beautifully painted wooden canopy and columns is vividly described but it does no longer exist. The Fort acted as a safe haven for the people living between Qila Rai Pithora and Siri. Tughalqabad continued to act as Tughlaq’s centre of government until, for strange and inexplicable reasons, he shifted his capital to Daulatabad, however he returned after a short period.

Past excavations of a part of Muhammad bin Tughluq’s Hazar Sutan palace have roused general interest in the buildings of the Tughlaq. Bases of the wooden pillars, which supported the one-thousand-pillared palace (Hazar Sutoon), have been uncovered by the Archaeological Department of the Government of India.

Excavations conducted in 1934 have revealed wooden pillar bases attributed to the ‘Hazar Sutoon’ Palace.


Pillar bases-holes in rectangular stone blocks

Debate is still on, that whether the ‘Hazar Sutoon’ Palace cited as existing during Allauddin Khilji’s reign and also during Tughlaq’s time are one and the same palace. As of yet there is no conclusive answer. A plausible hypothesis is that the stone hall of the palace was built by Allauddin Khilji while the tower adjoining the stone buildings was surely built by Mohammed bin Tughlaq.

Ibn Battutah’ Account of Hazaar Sutoon

Some of the most extensive descriptions of this hall and rest of Mohamed Tughluq’s palace appear in the travelogue of Ibn Battutah-the Moroccan explorer of Berber descent. He is known for his extensive travels, accounts of which were published in the Rihla. As quoted:

“At the time, Muhammad Shah ibn Tughluq was ruling the greatest empire India had known in 800 years (the eponymous “hall” is the Hazar Sutoon, Muhammad Shah’s audience chamber in Delhi)”.

Ibn Battuta spent a few years at Mohammed bin Tughluq’s court and gives a vivid description of everything he sees. Many a stories in his account are set in the public audience hall of Jahanpanah, the Hazar Sutoon.

Each pillar of Hazar Sutoon was a mute witness to a trail of blood, treachery, ecstasy, pain, grandeur, happiness, pride, jealousy, anxiety….. entire human emotions.

Ibn Batuta has reasoned that Muhammad Shah ibn Tughluq wished to see a unified city comprising Old Delhi, Siri, Jahanpanah and Tughlaqabad with one contiguous fortification encompassing them but cost considerations forced him to abandon the plan halfway. In his chronicle, Batuta also stated that the Hazar Sutan Palace (1000 pillared palace), built outside the Siri fort limits but within the Jahanpanah city area, was the residence of the Tughlaq.

Hazar Sutoon as a testimony of treachery

Malik Kafur the ‘Hazaar Dinari’ eunuch of Alauddin Khilji had placed Mubarak Shah Khilji, who was the third son of Ala-ud-din-Khilji, in prison in the Hazar Sutun (the palace of a thousand pillars) and tried to blind him.

In 1317 Ala-ud-Din died, his death having been hastened (poisoned), it is said, by Malik Kafur, who at once seized the throne. Warangal treasure tempted Ala-ud-Din to murder his uncle Jelal-ud-Din, so now the same temptation brought upon him the same fate from the hands of Malik Kafur. He put out the eyes of two of Ala-ud-Din’s sons, “by cutting them from their sockets with a razor, like slices of melon, and confined Mubarak Khan, intending him for the same fate.

Before, however, he could do this, retribution overtook Malik Kafur himself. A conspiracy was formed amongst some of the nobles, who entered the palace ‘Hazar Sutoon’ at night and killed him when he was asleep. This being done, Mubarak Khan was placed upon the throne and assumed the title of Sultan Kutb-ud-Din (1317).

Anxiety to see the novel Hazaar Sutoon

In 1398, Timur’s ladies had visited ‘Hazar Sutoon’. As chronicled: “…the ladies of our harem were anxious to see Qasr-i-Hazaar Sutoon. We allowed them to be escorted thither while we proceeded to Ghiyaspur to fulfil our vow to pray besides the tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya…”.

The memory of Tughlaq audience hall (Hazaar Sutoon) still lingered in the Mughal period. As exemplified by Abul Fazl who in his description of Sultanate Delhi, upgrades it to a” lofty hall (buland iwani) with a thousand collumns of white marble (Hazar Sutoon az sangiye rukham)”. (Ain-i- Akbari Volume 1. Persian text)

Abul Fazal’s vivid portrayal of Tughlaq hall may have influences Emperor Shahjahan’s decision to have his hall redone in stone ”made marble with white plaster”. (Muqarnas: An Annual on Islamic Art and Architecture).

Such anecdotes about the enchanting Hazar Sutoon are many, some chronicled, some as folklore.

Time may have obliterated Hazar Sutoon…………………

but its memories and stories will go on forever………………………… !

Walking through Mehrauli



10 January, 2015 – Saturday


On 10th January, we did our first Heritage-Photowalk of 2015. It was a chilling Saturday and we knew that people might be hesitant to slip out of their beds, get ready and drive to the oldest city for a walk. So we decided to keep the walk at 11 AM. Me and Tauseef reached Mehrauli village and parked our car behind the Tomb of Adham Khan. It was 10:30 and we had 30 minutes before the walk starts. So it was good time for a cup of tea. And what better place than a Bus Terminal can serve roadside tea. While we were sipping the ginger-masala tea, we found that Heritage and Photography enthusiasts have started gathering at the Tomb. We spent 15 minutes chit-chatting and knowing each other and then started the formal walk+talk.

Adham Khan’s Tomb aka Bhool Bhulaiyya


God know why this is called Bhool Bhulaiyya. Several stories prevail. Some claim that an entire marriage party lost their way inside this Tomb (which actually is a plain simple hall with several entrances) while some say that it has a labyrinth in the corridors on upper stories. However, our stories focussed more on what is written on medallions and why is there a Hexagram (six pointed star) on the entrance. We also quickly touched upon Swastika and 5-pointed Star during the discussion and ofcourse, learned about the history of this place and its permanent occupants.


We are around 25-30 people (few more joined later). After clicking photographs, we started moving towards our next destination

Chaumachi Khan’s Tomb


As we sneaked into a congested street, I could see the amusement on everyone’s face when they learned that this tomb is an irregular octagon. Which means, not even a single side matches the other in size. Still, it stands firm and strong. There was no access due to bad encroachment, so we could not go inside. But after few clicks, we started heading towards our next destination



Hijro’n ki Khanqah

We were lucky that we found the graveyard of eunuchs open. It is usually kept closed but when we reached, the caretaker was there, so we entered the complex. We learned about the eunuch, that Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (ra) considered as sister. After spending some time here, we started moving towards the major water body of Mehrauli


Hauz-i-Shamsi & Jahaz Mahal


We approached Hauz-i-Shamsi and discussed the water distribution back in Iltutmish’s period. We saw various other structures in the vicinity and then understood the concept of Arches. We looked at False & True Arch, Corbel Arch and how domes were built. Like always, concept and power of Keystone was a surprise for those, who heard it for the first time


Zafar Mahal


Now was the time for our Durbar. We reached Sardgah inside Zafar Mahal and discussed about Zafar and his end. We checked out the Moti Masjid and then climbed Hathi Darwaza to enjoy the sunny day. We sat there for more than an hour, discussing the evolution of Delhi. During this discussion, several other small stories were discussed. We discussed about communal harmony during Mughal days and about Sair-i-Gulfarosha’n (Phoolwalon ki sair). Finally, when everyone was satisfied, we planned to head back. But wait, everyone wanted more. So we decided to visit the Dargah.



Dargah, Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (ra)


Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki’s dargah is one of the prominent shrines of Mehrauli. Everyone was feeling blessed to have visited here. We checked out almost every corner of Dargah, discussed religion and sentiments, and headed towards exit

Gurudwara Baba Banda Bahadur

While we were passing the Gurudwara on our way out, I asked everyone if they are tired. To my surprise, energy was still high in most of us and they wanted to explore more. So we entered the Gurudwara and I told them the story of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, and how he was brutally tortured and murdered by Mughal soldiers at this Naubat Khana. We saw the mini exhibition at the Gurudwara and started walking towards the Haveli of Kale Sahab.

Gandhak ki Baoli


After crossing Haveli of Kale Sahab, the spiritual master of Bahadur Shah Zafar, we reached Gandhak ki Baoli and discussed the concept of Baolis & Sedimentation. We discussed the lifestyle around baolis back in historic days.

Now everyone was tired and hungry. So we decided to raid the Aggarwal sweet shop and taste some Chhole-Bhature there. But as we reached the shop, some of us changed their minds and decided to have Paranthas instead. So 8 of us headed to IIFT and ordered over a dozen Paranthas and few Veg Maggis. We have been walking for 5 hours and I was speaking all this time. We were diving deep in those amazing stories that until now, no one felt the need of food. But now, the stories were over and only thing we knew was “Butter+Curd+Paranthas+Tea+Maggi+Lots of fun”

And that was another walk by Delhi Heritage Photography Club.

See you in the next one Smile

Vikramjit Singh Rooprai

Talk: Cities of Delhi, living without a lifeline


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Heritage Talk: Cities of Delhi, living without a lifeline
by Sohail Hashmi
3rd January, 2015 – Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre


HAshmiWe began the talk series for 2015 with a serious discussion on the use of water in Delhi, before British decided to introduce piped water to Shahjahanabad. Around 150 people attended the talk, which was held in the Gulmohar Hall of India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Mr. Hashmi has been mentoring Delhi Heritage Photography Club, www.monumentsofdelhi.com and Youth for Heritage Foundation since 2011. He was also instrumental in starting heritage talk series at the India Habitat Centre and the Photography Exhibitions at various locations. He started the talk series at IHC on 1st February 2014 with a talk on the Myths of Islamic Architecture. After a year, he returned with an amazing session on various water streams, stepped wells, water bunds, reservoirs, lakes and river(s) of Delhi.

We started this session by welcoming Sohail Hashmi. He honoured us by inaugurating this BLOG before the talk started. Talk began at 7pm and in no time, everyone was spell bound with his amazing delivery style and content. Mr. Hashmi took us through each city of Delhi 1 by 1 via his presentation and shared pictures of water bodies. Delight was to know, how these water ponds and stepped wells came into existence and the unheard stories behind them. From Qutub Sahib ki Baoli to Hauz e Shamsi and from Gandhak ki Baoli to Rajon ki Baoli, we discussed every water deposit in the 1st city. Then we moved to Siri and Tughlaqabad, talking of the amazing water barrage, sluice dams, canals and water streams like Chirag Dilli Nullah. Later we talked about Jahanpanah, Ferozabad and Dilli Sher Shahi, before the discussion focussed on Shahjahanabad. It was s surprise for everyone, when they heard that even for Shahjahanabad, water was bought in from 130 miles away, where Ali Mardan Khan turned a river and created a canal to irrigate Delhi. Water running moats and gardens of Red Fort and of Shahjahanabad was cut from Yamuna, whereas the drinking water was supplied by the canal Ali Mardan Khan built.

Mr. Hashmi also discussed all the bridges built in Delhi and how they connected important roads. He told us about how colonies like Sarojni Nagar and Sewa Nagar were built post Independence over running fresh water streams and how clean fresh Nullas of Delhi were turned into sewage drains. We also saw the only remaining fresh water stream of Delhi, which us unaffected from garbage and untreated sewage. The stream is a small branch of Yamuna, where water splits for few hundred meters at Wazirabad, to join back the main river later.


Question Answer session was a total delight. With such learned and sincere audience, the level of discussion went one step higher and as the interactive session began, almost everyone was glued to their seats. We got feedback to record and document the Question Answer session also, as it was giving much more information than what was delivered during the presentation. However, it was too late to start recording and we had to rely on the recording done by IHC of the presentation.

We started a practice of Feedback Book from this session. The book was filled with heart-warming and encouraging comments. This give us energy to work harder and keep arranging such sessions in future as well.

Thank You!

The Gwalior Trip


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Gwalior Heritage Trip: 12-14 September, 2014


In September, 19 people had their bags packed, ticket booked and hotel arranged. We were supposed to land in Srinagar on 12th September 2014. And then the worst thing happened. Heavy rains broke all records and flooded the valley. We were in no position to fly and had to cancel the trip. Entire group was in shock and decided to not to waste the holidays. Instead of going to Srinagar, we decided to head to Bateshwar and Gwalior. 10 people signed up for the trip and 12th morning, we boarded the Tempo Traveller…

The Start

3:30 AM, Yogesh, our trusted driver drove through Keshavpuram Metro Station, where he was spotted by Ajay Gupta. Ajay boarded the bus and headed to Rajouri to pick Tauseef Ahmed, who then drove to Tilak Nagar to pick me and Mandeep. I was told that there will be scarcity of food and water in remote village of Padhwali, where we were supposed to reach. So I had already arranged for a huge carton of snacks and another one of water bottle (Only to find that everyone else has done same). By 5am, we had reached Dwarka to pick Vipin Saggar and then via Mahipalpur, headed Andheria Mod to pick Viraj, Sarika, Gurpreet and Monidipa. From Chhatarpur, Nemish boarded and then we all reached the historic village of Khirki to receive Krinna. By 6:00 AM, we were driving on the DND Flyover.

As we reached the Yamuna Expressway, half of our group was asleep. Our first stop was the Food joint at Toll plaza, where we picked tea/coffee and opened the treasure box of pranthas, sandwiches and snacks. Krinna was very generous to help prepare fresh cheese sandwiches for everyone and our first stop enroute Bateshwar/Gwalior was worth it.



While crossing Agra, everyone was happy to see Itmad-ud-Daul, Fort and Taj Mahal (but from a distance :)). We reached Dholpur and ventured  through tight streets to reach the Ghazra Tomb of Dholpur. Entrance was from inside a school and we were told to avoid it. But when we insisted, the person said that go inside only if you have a torch. The structure was unique and in very bad shape. A very huge tomb, with four minarets, all connected to main tomb via bridges. Access to inside of tomb was through a dense bush. We crawled through it to find ourselves in a pitch dark room. The moment we managed to light up the hall with mobile torches, we found that it has amazing relief work on walls and arches. We asked local kids about the nearby Baoli and they took us to the place via an inside shortcut. The baoli was equally amazing with nice parapets along well. And finally we had our first group photo :)



We called the ASI staff at Bateshwar and Padhwali to inform of our journey. We were told that the road from Noorabad is blocked due to bridge construction. So we had to take a longer route from Bamer and drive through the unexplored countryside. This journey was most pleasing with ravines of chambals and small to large lakes everywhere. Weather was pleasant and the greenery was giving a soothing feeling. As we reached Bateshwar Temple Complex, the first sight of site took away all the tiredness we had.

This complex of 120 Temples was built by Gurjar Pratihar Dynasty much before Khajuraho. Few decades back, it was all broken and hardly any structure was left. Then came Sh. KK Muhammed, the then head of Bhopal Circle, who took the challenge to restore these tombs and managed to convince the dacoits of Chambal to help him. His entire journey of reaching there, restoring temple and fighting with the top brass was nothing less than an adventure movie. We went inside the tiny fortress built inside complex and occupied a room, where we ran the documentary of Sh KK Mohammed, explaining how he restored this complex. If you have not seen that documentary so far, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3hT6PeUUVM.

Before we started clicking, the generous ASI staff gave us seats and served hot food, prepared locally in the temple complex. This was the best meal we had during this trip. Later, Group spread out and started clicking. The complex was huge, so everyone occupied a spot and spent as much time as s/he could. We had some amazing shots from the place.

The complex is the most addictive monument I ever visited. You have to force yourself out of the place and something inside you will keep saying, “turn back and click more”. Every single structure in there has a unique story and some unique architecture. From the Shiva Temple to the largest Vishnu Temple, everyone has something special to offer.

But it was dark and we had to leave. We had already consumed all our time for day and headed to Gwalior city as fast as we could.

At night, we checked into our hotel and noone was left with any energy to have dinner. So the food was served into selected rooms and rest crashed into their beds, only to be found alive the next day

Day 2: Gwalior Fort


Day 2 started with waking everyone via Whatsapp and greeting each other on the breakfast table. We went to Mohd Ghaus’s Tomb and Tansen’s Tomb. Jaali work at the tomb and the surrounding structures took our breath away. We spent considerable time there and headed to Gwalior Fort. Tight streets of old Gwalior greeted us with traffic congestion, but it was more of fun driving along the foothill of 10Km long fort wall. As we found the road to enter the Gwalior Fort, we took it and within few meters, Krinna screamed as she saw some amazing statues on walls. These were Jain Tirthankars, engraved all along the wall. We stopped our bus and spent 30 minutes clicking them.


GroupPhoto-3Later, we reached Fort and met the incharge of Museum, who gave us a personal tour and offered nice tea in his office. But tea cannot replace a nice heavy meal, so we were out again hunting for food. The royal kitchens of Maharaja Maan Singh, Jehangir and Scindias had closed centuries ago. So we found an amazing option. We went to Data Bandi Chhod Gurudwara in the Fort. After a long lecture on Sikh history, we went to the Langar Hall. Divine food and amazing tea made our day there. And how can we forget the amazing kDaah Prashad. Then started our photography. First the colorful Durga Temple outside Gurudwara and then the Shiva Temple in lotus Pond. Then we went to bad ridden Teli ka Mandir and later clicked (and got clicked at) Sas-Bahu ka Mandir. I find Sas-Bahu Mandir the most interesting in terms of architecture

We then went to palace of Raja Maan Singh, where ASI staff took us around the rooms and explained the story of fort. It was around 5pm and we had to wait till Light and Sound Show. So we took some rest at the Karn Palace in fort. Some of us went to click kids diving in pool and some were trying to capture the Sunset.

Light and Sound show, I would say, was way below standard. The only reason we could sustain it was that we were trying to condole ourselves by passing comments on the poor dialogue delivery of the voice over artists. Our day ended with a nice dinner one of the Veg restaurants near our hotel. And since the restaurant was pure vegetarian, Monidipa had to satisfy herself with ice-cream only.

Day 3


We had planned to go to Deeg and Bharatpur on Day 3. But our thirst at Bateshwar was not quenched. So after quick breakfast, we headed back to Bateshwar. Since it was Sunday, we knew that there will be no staff at Bateshwar monument to prepare lunch for us. So we picked few packs of maggi, which we were supposed to cook ourself at the monument. We reached Mitaoli. Climbing 108 steps, we found the circular 64 yogini temple, used for Tantric activities since centuries. Some say, the design of Parliament is inspired from this. View from this complex was amazing and even better was having tea prepared with fresh milk, served on the hilltop.

After Mitaoli, we reached Garhi Padhwali. This was a Shiva temple, later converted into a Fortress. The mandap (Gateway) was kept intact and Garbh Mahal (Sanctum Sanctorum) was removed. We saw some amazing artwork in the Mandap. It was not as huge as the Akshardham Temple or the Khajuraho, but it was far better and exquisite than these. I am in total love with Bateshwar and Garhi Padhwali. We spent so much time there, that we had no time left for bateshwar. We went to Bateshwar for a short halt of 30 minutes, quickly clicked the remaining shots that we had in mind and headed back to Bamer via Shanishcharaya Temple, which is said to be centuries old. Then we reached Noorabad, where we stopped on the historic bridge. It was sad to see how govt has “renovated” the bridge and very less of original structure is left.

Then there was nothing between us and our lunch in Agra. We spent time discussing history. And after few butter naans went down our food pipe, we were energized enough to play antakshari on our way back, until the bus tire burst and everyone jumped with joy. We now had a golden chance to get down and walk on the Yamuna Expressway enjoying the sunset.

As we reached Delhi, it was same route back, dropping everyone.

This was by far one of the most interesting trips for me in terms of architectural findings. I hope we will have similar trips coming up in future. I am already planning to visit Bateshwar and Gwalior again as my thirst to click those temples is not satisfied.


How it started


It was October of 2009. I was sitting in office, preparing a list of places I visited in past 12 months. Suddenly, a thought struck my mind, that I have seen many states in India, but have I seen Delhi properly?


I discussed my thought with my colleagues and one of them, Gaurav Pandey agreed to accompany me to explore Delhi. We divided Delhi into 4 zones and decided that we will dedicate 1 weekend to each zone. Plan was fairly simple and we had a small list of monuments that I could obtain from Internet.


On 24th October 2009, I took my car and reached Nehru Place, where Gaurav was supposed to meet me. As he reached, we took his bike to start our journey from Saket. We reached Satpula opposite Select City Walk Mall. I had absolutely no idea what that was but was definitely mesmerized with it’s architecture. Then we went to Mehrauli, where we visited Zafar Mahal, Jahaz Mahal, Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki and finally, entered the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. As we entered the park, I was stunned with this huge park, loaded with unknown monuments. For the first time in my life, I saw a Baoli.

InZafarMahalMy amusement elevated my excitement. I told my friend Gaurav that I want to see all these monuments with proper time, so 1 weekend is not enough for South Delhi. He was not as interested as I was, so he decided to concentrate on more important things than travelling within Delhi. But for me, things were changed. The next day, we visited Akshardham Temple with more friends. Nauka Vihar of Akshardham, where they show how culturally and technologically rich India has been, made me more curious about what I had seen the earlier day. Several questions were running through my mind. I was continuously thinking of why an average Delhiite does not know about Mehrauli.


I started searching on Internet and found that hardly any information is available about them. So I decided to write my own Blog. As I laid my hands on some books, I realized that Mehrauli was just a small fraction of a huge Heritage goldmine. I learned about the cities of Delhi and then I got to know that there are over 1200 monuments. I spent 1 full year in Mehrauli Archaeological Park alone and documented every structure I saw. I started www.monumentsofdelhi.com and made it technically sound, so I can map and track every stone. After 1 year, some friends started joining me on my expeditions. Soon, I formed a club called the “Delhi Heritage Awareness Club”.


One fine day, Nikhil Garg called me and said, how about we form a photography club on Facebook, which is dedicated only to Heritage. I told him that I already have Delhi Heritage Awareness Club, and all we do there is photograph monuments. He suggested that the name should contain the word “Photography”. So I replaced the word “Awareness” with “Photography”. And hence was born “Delhi Heritage Photography Club”.

As the club grew, I started taking lectures at Schools, Colleges, Corporates and Clubs. During this, I also met several learned people, who have been doing similar research and had a lot to share. I decided to give them a platform and established “Heritage Durbar”. Every month, in Heritage Durbar, we invite a learned person from the field of Heritage/History, and request them to share their knowledge.

Pressure was growing to explore towns outside Delhi. So we started outstation trips. From Mewat Heritage Hunt, the flag was hoisted. Since then, our Heritage Hunters have raided places like Farrukhnagar, Murthal, Kurukshetra, Gwalior, Dholpur, Agra, Lansdowne, Bateshwar, Deeg, Almora and Jhajjar.


In January 2014, I decided to bring all these activities under 1 umbrella and called it “Youth for Heritage Foundation”. This initiative was not possible to be handled alone, so I requested few fellow members to help me in this mission. After 5 years of inception, “I” changed to “WE” and Youth for Heritage Foundation was established. Today, YFHF is managed by a strong governing body, that comprises of learned Heritage Lovers from across the country.


Our expeditions have just started. There is a long way to go. Together, we can bring our heritage back to life.

Vikramjit Singh Rooprai
Youth for Heritage Foundation