Despite being the only woman ruler of Delhi, Razia Sultan lies forgotten today in her tomb in Chandni Chowk
Razia Sultan, who ruled Delhi from 1236 to 1240, was the only woman ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. At a time far removed from concepts such as women’s rights and female emancipation, she was trained to manage the army and rode elephants to know about her kingdom.
Despite being the torch bearer for women, she finds very little space in history. Today she rests in her grave at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana near Turkman Gate in Old Delhi along with her sister Sajia. Although unknown to most people living in Delhi, the residents of the Walled City know about it a little.
“People these days are not interested to know about Razia and the government also has not done much to make the tomb an attraction or to beautify it,” explains 62-year-old Mohammad Salim Sabri, a resident of Mohalla Bulbuli Khana. He says “very few people know that she was a simple lady who worked with her father and promoted Islamic values during her reign.”
Shujauddin, who manufactures sewing machines and owns a shop in the lane close to the tomb, says, “Not many people visit the tomb. Sometimes school children come here or some tourists who know about Razia Sultan or who research on her.” The tomb has nothing attractive and is approached through a narrow lane that has houses and small shops on it. A resident of the locality for the last 35 years, he says, “The tomb has been in this very state since I have been here. After the addition of mosque 18 years ago, now at least people come to offer namaz, else no one used to come here.”
Responding to the suggestion that the monument has not been preserved well, Vasant Kumar Swarankar, Superintending Archaeologist of Delhi Circle at Safdarjung Tomb, states, “The tomb is made of rubble stone and we keep checking for any damage due to rains or other natural processes. Annual Maintenance is done too. We cannot do much to beautify it as it is surrounded by illegal and unauthorized construction.”
The tomb is surrounded by walls of illegal construction with ACs peeping out of them. The number of visitors is also not known as “there is no ticketing there due to namaz and insufficient space. Secondly, the tourists don’t prefer to visit the tomb due to dirty and congested lanes,” he adds.
“No women come here except tourists or the ones who study Razia,” says Shujauddin.