The Ruins of Ancient Hauz Khas in Delhi by Jayant Neogy

Hauz Khas complex in Hauz Khas, south Delhi India houses a water tank, an Islamic Seminary or Madrassa, a mosque, a tomb and pavilions. These were built between 700 and 800 years ago. Today, the ruins abut a subsequently urbanized village which includes living areas, boutique shops and many eating places, A great tourist attraction today, the medieval history of the ruins traces back to the 13th century reign of the Delhi Sultanate.


The ruins of Hauz Khas are one of the most amazing sights in Delhi. Few historical ruins are found in close proximity to very modern urban spaces. This magnificent monument reveals itself slowly to us as we approach it past the village. The dominant landmark is a large water tank. It was built by Alauddin Khilji the ruler of Siri, who called it Hauz i Alai. The tank supplied water to the capital city of Siri.

Beside the water tank are the ruins of the Madrassa or Islamic Seminary. Feroz Shah Tuglaq built this in the 14th century and it became a center of learning for Islamic Scholars. The Madrassa is a double storied structure, the colonnaded halls were probably lecture halls. Feroz Shah also repaired the Haus i Alai water tank and renamed it the Hauz Khas.


At the junction of the two wings of the Madrassa is Feroz Shah’s tomb. The tomb entrance is enclosed in an unusual railing. Feroz Shah was probably inspired by patterns on Buddhist monuments such as the Sanchi Stuoa. It is not known if the railings are a copy or was actually removed from some Buddhist structure and reinstalled here. Moving ahead, steps lead down to a lower story. Here we see some cells: each are tiny, with a small ventilator and a doorway. These were probably rooms for students. There are also some pavilions on the lawns containing graves, now used by visitor to sun themselves in winter. The graves were probably of teachers and officials of the Madrassa.

The overall impression of the ruins are of bygone magnificence. They are surrounded by the modernity of present day Delhi yet retaining the mystique of the distant past. Today, the ruins offer a beautiful spot in the middle of a bustling metropolis where one can rest, reflect upon the Islamic past of Delhi and enjoy the sun in winter. The many eateries and shops in the adjoining village offer the visitor to sample the past and the present in a single visit.


Bio: I am an amateur , retired and a late entrant to photography. I live in Gurgaon near New Delhi with my wife and one daughter. I use a Nikon D800. These pictures were shot with a Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4 and a Nikon 18-35 F/3.5-4.5 lens in two visits.

I am a retired amateur and a new entrant to photography. I use a Nikon D800


  1. Partha Neogy says

    Very nice photographs and descriptive narrative. They capture the essence of the juxtaposition of ancient ruins and a bustling metropolis.

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