Sultan Ghari was the first Islamic Mausoleum (tomb) built in 1231 AD for Prince Nasiru'd-Din Mahmud, eldest son of Iltumish, in the “funerary landscape of Delhi” in the Malakapur village (near Vasant Kunj). Iltumish was the third Sultan of the Slave Dynasty who ruled in Delhi from 1210 to 1236 AD. The area where the Ghari (meaning: cave) tomb is situated, was part of the first city of medieval Delhi known as the Slave Dynasty that ruled during the period 1206 to 1290.This area is now part of the Qutb complex.
The Slave Dynasty was the forerunner under the early Delhi Sultanate that ruled from 1216 to 1516. This dynastic city was followed by creation of other five cities of Delhi ruled by different dynastic rulers of the Delhi Sultanate, namely, the Khilji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). The rule of the Mughal Empire then followed and lasted from 1526 to 1857.
The crypt or the tomb is implanted in a Ghari (cave), approached by winding steep stairs made of stone, and supported by pillars and flooring. The cave is covered by an unusual octagonal roof slab. The exterior of the tomb structure built in Delhi sandstone with marble adornment exhibits a walled area with bastions (towers) on corners, which impart it the look of a fortress in aesthetic Persian and Oriental architecture. The other tombs inside the Ghari have not been identified.
Iltumish, ruling from Delhi since 1210 AD, invaded eastern India
in 1225 AD to capture Lakhnauti (now a ruined city in West Bengal called Gaur). The resultant battle ended in signing of a treaty between Izaz, the then ruler of Eastern India (Bihar and Bengal) and Iltumish; the former ruler agreeing to pay a surety of 80 lakh tankas (silver currency), 38 elephants, mint and issue of coins in the name of Iltumish and accepting Sultan’s suzerainty over the region. Before returning to Delhi, Iltumish divided the region into Bihar and Lakhnauti, and installed Alauddin masud jani as his feudatory in Lakhnauti. But Jani’s control was short lived as he was overthrown by Iwaz soon after Iltumish’s departure.
Worship at the Tomb:
The tomb is a revered place for devotees of both Hindu and Muslim religious communities of the nearby villages of Mahipalpur
and Rangpur since they consider the tomb as the dargah of a saintly ‘peer’; a visit to the tomb is more or less mandatory for newlyweds from these two villages. Because of the religious veneration, the monument is maintained better by the local people than the Archeological Survey of India who are the formal custodians to maintain the heritage structure.
Thursday is a special day for worship at this tomb when devotees, both Hindus and Muslims, visit the shrine, which represents a festive display of Hindu – Muslim syncretism of religious tolerance. Every year, on the 17th day of the Islamic month of Ziqad (month occurring between Ramadan and Eid festivals), the “Urs (death anniversary) of Nasiruddin Shah” is held when pilgrims from all parts of Delhi visit the tomb.