Siri and its Surroundings

The focal point of this historically rich area is the ancient city of Siri, established by Alauddin Khalji in the early fourteenth century as a military camp to protect the capital of his empire from the attack of the Mongol army. Little did Alauddin know that his newly founded city would, in the following centuries become the backdrop for buzzing construction activity undertaken by every subsequent dynasty that established itself in Delhi. Since Siri was established primarily for defence purposes, there are very few remains of any major buildings from this period within or outside the fortifications except perhaps, the Tuhfewala Gumbad, a ruined mosque. Alauddin is said to have built a vast palace, ‘the palace of thousand pillars’ but it is not certain where this was located. C

ertainly no remains of it are in evidence. Closer to the fortifications, stand the ruins of the Chor Minar, an intriguing and mysterious tower thought to have been used by Alauddin Khalji to bring to justice those proven guilty of theft and robbery. Building activity outside the Siri walls continued to take place in the later centuries making the area home to many tombs and mosques in the subsequent Tughlaq and Lodi periods.

The Muhammadi Wali Masjid, the mosque of Darwesh Shah, the Nili Masjid, and the Idgah, all located in close proximity to each other, testify to the fact that the vicinity of Siri remained an important location for religious and other structures. Till the recent extravagant burst of urbanization in Delhi, the landscape here remained predominantly rural and pastoral, dotted with many ancient buildings. Some of these rural communities had even developed protective walls around their settlements in order to provide security during periods of anarchy.

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