DILLI KI DIBBI – CHOR MINAR
Modern, spacious houses, pollution free environment, and enough green pockets make Hauz Khas Enclave, home to the creme de la creme of Delhi’s society. A circular enclosure within the colony is used as a traffic roundabout and crossed by commuters regularly. Amidst it stands the 13th century “Chor Minar” or The Tower of Thieves. In the past, I may have crossed this odd, stubby tower more than a hundred times. Just as ignorant as I had been, I wonder if the residents are aware of the horrendous tale behind the tower.
A BIT ABOUT HISTORY AND THE GORY PAST
In the pages of history, lies the name Alauddin Khilji, the second Sultan and most powerful king of the Khilji dynasty. He ruled for nearly two decades from 1296 to 1316. By the first quarter of 13th Century India was invaded by the Mongols who were responsible for every kind of inhuman atrocity and eradicated civilizations. Ruthless and unrelenting, Khilji fought and defeated the Mongols five times. With a penchant for decapitated heads, it’s said that Alauddin beheaded 8000 Mongols living in the settlement now known as Mongolpuri and built the first Muslim City of Delhi and called it Siri. Siri means head or Sir, and this city was a homage to all the severed heads. The name Siri continues to thrive as important landmark till today. SiriFort Auditorium and Siri Fort Sports Complex continue with the same name.
THE USE OF PUBLIC DISPLAY AS A MESSAGE
Built of rubble masonry the Chor Minar stands in the center of a platform. Out of the three arched recesses that can be seen on all four sides of the platform, the central one has a doorway which gives access to a staircase leading to the top. It stands locked. On scrutiny, one can see holes in the exterior surface of Chor Minar. Public exposure was used to frighten people. Unmerciful, he knew how to get his message across. The heads of the slaughtered thieves, skewered on a spear were placed in each of the 225 holes of Chor Minar for public view. In case the heads exceeded the number of holes, the less important heads were dumped in pile outside the tow. Many believe that the Chor Minar continues to exude an eerie vibe that still has the stench of the blood of the deadheads. As I stepped into the site, I see a lady reading the newspaper and soaking in the winter sun. The surroundings are peaceful except for the chirping of the birds. How time flies and things change! What one can envisage as a place of terror, beheadings, cries, and pain in the 1300s is a spot that brings peace and relaxation to its residents today. But then that’s history and time changes perspectives.
Address: Southeast Of Idgah, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi 110016, India
Timings: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.