About Hauz Khas
Hauz Khas refers to both a neighbourhood in South Delhi, India, as well as the impressive remnants of a medieval village that once stood on the same spot.
History of Hauz Khas
Hauz Khas literally translates as the ‘royal tank’ in Farsi, and the large water tank was built in the late 13th century by Allauddin Khilji so that the inhabitants of the surrounding city of Siri would have a year-round water supply. The tank would have collected water during the monsoon to effectively supply people throughout most of the dry season. The original tank is believed to have spanned over 100 acres, and was roughly 4m deep, providing a huge area to collect water in.
In the 14th century, a mosque and madrasa were built by Feruz Shah overlooking the tank (although it really looks like a lake). Only the ruins of the madrasa are still standing today, although during its heyday, it was regarded the largest, and possibly best Islamic seminary in the world, especially following the Sack of Baghdad.
Feruz Shah’s tomb also overlooks the tomb: an enlightened ruler who commissioned monuments across the Delhi area as well as public works buildings including mosques, hospitals and public baths. He championed pioneering architectural styles and irrigation projects in order to further prosperity and culture in his kingdom.
The tomb he built himself is relatively austere in style: it uses a mixture of Indian and Islamic architectural styles and motifs. The interior of the tomb is topped with an 8.8m high dome and was constructed using quartzite rubble with a plaster finish to add lustre.
Hauz Khas today
Today, the buildings at Hauz Khas are in ruins, although they are still open to be explored. Steps from every level of the ruined madrasa descend down to the lake, and it’s well worth taking the time to wander through and marvel at how this building would have been in its prime.
The adjacent Deer park makes for a pleasant stroll and also contains more ruined tombs from roughly the same era. The modern day suburb of Hauz Khas encloses the deer park and ruins, and makes for a pleasant afternoon walking round.
Getting to Hauz Khas
Hauz Khas is located in South Delhi, about 10km from the India Gate. The Magenta line on the Delhi Metro runs through the suburb, and annoyingly, the nearest station to the complex is not in fact Hauz Khas but R.K. Puram. Taxis or tuk tuks will not be expensive, but bear in mind the journey may take up to an hour from central Delhi due to the dire traffic – metro will almost certainly be quicker.
With a history dating back to the 10th century, and the 3rd largest city in the world today, Delhi remains a popular starting or finishing point for travellers exploring Northern India. Beyond the chaos and the smog, Delhi is crammed with rich and varied historic sites which help tell the story of this remarkable city.