Delhi 101: #4 Surreal show in the basement tomb – Sultan Garhi

The Sultan Garhi tomb is known to be the oldest surviving resting place for anyone in Delhi. The basement with three graves is usually dark and damp, and you have to watch your step, and head, when you go in. Little stirs inside except on Thursdays.

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

It is the day when both Muslims and Hindus converge here all day to offer their prayers to Nasiru’d-Din Baba, and the underground turns all surreal. Hundreds of lamps and candles are lit by devotees, creating a smoky lighted wonder within. It is jostling time with scores cramping the space at any given time – but it will not disturb your senses. The sight will keep you transfixed, even moving you in a way. Faith does have a certain kind of an energy to it.

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Surprisingly, the tomb is not dedicated to a holy man but to a prince who would have been emperor, or sultan. Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud was the heir-apparent to the throne after his father Sultan Iltutmish but met an untimely death around 1231 A.D. Nasiru’d-Din was the brother of Razia Sultan, the first and only woman monarch to rule from Delhi. Tragically, all siblings met with untimely or violent deaths.


Thursdays are a day for prayers and feasting. The well-off serve free meals around mid-day, and a small flea market comes up in the surrounding area. People from neighbouring areas come in a festive mood. Located in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area, it is off the main thoroughfare in a forested area. You can see it from the road, but chances are you will ignore it. Don’t. Venture in, and spend some time with yourself on any day. You will not be able to stop yourself from wondering about the man who lies buried since nearly forever, and the times that were. Even as airplanes whiz by above you to and from the city’s airport nearby.

Travel Tip: Sultan Garhi is located opposite Sector C, Pocket 9 in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj.

The basement with the graves where the devout come calling on Thursdays at Sultan Garhi
The basement with the graves where the devout come calling on Thursdays at Sultan Garhi


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