(Last Updated on : 31/03/2016)
The tomb and mosque of Isa Khan Niyazi stand to the south of Bu Halima's Garden. The Persian inscription on a red sandstone slab over the mihrab inside the tomb gives the tomb its identity: It was built during the reign of Islam Shah, son of Sher Shah, by Masnad AH Isa Khan, son of Niyaz Aghwan, the chief chamberlain (1547- 48 AD).
Isa Khan's Tomb is built mainly of local grey quartzite with ornamental use of red sandstone. The rough masonry is covered with stucco plaster, and glazed tiles of different colours have been used in decorating the walls. The tomb stands in the centre of an octagonal enclosure, the walls of which are crowned with plain battlements and the angles provided with circular bastions, giving it an air of strength. It is entered from the north through a gateway that stands on a podium approached by a flight of five steps. The main gate is in a dilapidated condition and the main gate chamber has collapsed.
The square-headed doorway is of Hindu design. The tomb is further enclosed by an inner low octagonal wall and is itself octagonal on plan. It stands on a podium just over one metre high. The square headed doorways on all sides of the tomb chamber except the south and the west are enclosed with jalis within recesses having four-centred arches.
The western side of the tomb is occupied by a four-centred mihrab, bordered by quotations from the Quran, while the southern side contains the entrance to the tomb-chamber. The medallion in the centre of the dome is enriched with painted floral decoration in Persian style, fringed by a quotation from the Quran. Inside the tomb chamber there are two large graves and four smaller ones. The monument over the grave of Isa Khan, one of the two larger ones, is of marble and red sandstone. The floor is paved with sandstone slabs.
The main tomb chamber is surrounded by an arcaded verandah having three stilted, four-centred arches on each side of the octagon. The spandrels of the arches contain the remains of blue, green and yellow tile-inlay. It is crowned by a stone chhajja. The parapet above the verandah contains false merlons and from the eight angles rise slender pinnacles, topped with lotus-flower design. The squat dome springs from a 16-sided drum, the eight chhattris supported by columns of red sandstone rise from the roof level to surround the main dome and to harmonise the design.
The tomb of Isa Khan is similar on plan to those of Khan-i-Jahan Tilangani, Mubarak Shah, Mohammad Shah and Sikandar Shah Lodi, all in Delhi. The tomb of Khan-i-Jahan Tilangani, in the village of Nizamuddin, is the earliest octagonal tombs to be found in the Delhi area. Persian influence can be seen in the octagonal tombs of 14th century Tughlaq monuments, e.g., at Hauz Khas in Delhi
. The mosque of Isa Khan stands immediately to the west of the tomb inside the same enclosure-walls. It is a simple structure in contrast to the tomb. Built mainly of local grey quartzite, it is faced with red sandstone and is decorated with coloured tile inlay. It stands on a platform almost a metre high and consists of a single prayer chamber that is divided into three bays. Internally the central dome is carried on squinches and the lateral domes rise from pendentives. The interior of the mosque is not elaborately decorated. The floor of the chamber is plastered. Each bay is pierced by a four-centred arched entrance. The borders of the arches and the spandrels are decorated with blue and green tiles. The framework of the central arch is relieved at intervals by panels. A stone chhajja projects over the side bays. The parapet contains merlons in relief, and the corners of the central bay are decorated with pinnacles.
The central dome is high shouldered and springs from a 16-sided drum. The domed pavilions, supported by grey stone pillars, stand on either side of the central dome and retain the remains of blue tile inlay. About 2 kms south of Purana Qila, on Mathura Road, is Hazrat Nizamuddin, one of the 'many historic village settlements that continues to exist within modern Delhi. Nizamuddin gets its name from the Sufi saint, Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya, who was born in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh in 1236, and lived most of his life in Delhi until his death in 1325. Among his illustrious disciples were the sultans, Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Amir Khusro, one of India's most celebrated poets.
The entry point to Nizamuddin is marked by a traffic island with a blue-domed tomb known as Sabz Burj (sabz, green; burj, dome). The blue tiles are a recent restoration effort, but some of the original green, yellow and blue tiles can still be seen on the walls. It has high recessed arches on all sides and a high-drummed double dome covered with coloured tiles which gives it its name. Architecturally, the building probably belongs to the early Mughal period. The British used this building as a police station for many years till the beginning of the last century.
The constant crowd of devotees outside Nizamuddin's dargah is testimony to the devotion that the saint still commands. Every Thursday, after sunset, qawwals sing the lyrics of Amir Khusro. Shaikh Nizamuddin died in 1325, and his original tomb does not exist any longer.
Faridun Khan, a nobleman, built the present structure in 1562-63 during the reign of Emperor Akbar
. The area around the tomb of the Shaikh has many big and small tombs that have been built over the centuries since it is considered auspicious to be buried near a saint's grave. To the south of Nizamuddin's grave is the Tomb of Amir Khusro. Nearby are the marble screened tombs of Jahanara, the dutiful daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan
and the late Mughal emperor, Muhammad Shah Rangila (1719-48). Princess Jahanara's grave is covered with grass in accordance with the inscription on it, which says 'let naught cover my grave save the green grass: for grass well suffices as a covering for the grave of the lowly'. At the northern gate of the dargah complex is a large baoli, the water of which is believed to have healing powers.
An interesting legend associated with the dargah is that of the skirmish between the saint and the first Tughluq king, Ghiyasuddin. Shaikh Nizamuddin was getting the baoli constructed at about the same time as the king was engaged in building his fortress at Tughlaqabad. The king forbade his construction workers from working elsewhere, and so they decided to work for the Shaikh at night. This made Ghiyasuddin prohibit the sale of oil to Hazrat Nizamuddin, but the workers found that their lamps could be lit with the water of the baolil. To the west of Shaikh Nizamuddin's tomb lies Jamaat Khana Masjid, veneered in red sandstone. It has three bays, each topped with a low dome. Its arches are fringed with lotus-bud decoration as in the arches of Alai Darwaza
in the Qutb Complex. The mosque was built by a son of Ala-ud-din Khilji
, and is the oldest structure within the complex.
On the northern edge of Nizamuddin village outside the dargah complex, is Ataga Khan's tomb. It is an impressive structure in red sandstone thickly inlaid with marble and coloured tiles. Sandwiched between two modern buildings, its original grandeur is still visible. Ataga Khan was the husband of Maham Anga, Akbar's wet nurse, and held an important position in Akbar's court. In 1562 he was killed by Adham Khan, son of Maham Anga another wet nurse of Akbar. Adham Khan's tomb is in Mehrauli and is locally known as Bhul-Bhulaiyan.
The tomb of Mirza Aziz, Ataga Khan's son, built in 1623, is known as Chaunsath Khamba, because, as its name implies, it has sixty-four pillars supporting the roof. It is entered through a lofty, arched gateway adjacent to the Ghalib Academy. In Nizamuddin West is also buried the famous 19th century Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib. Mirza Ghalib's tomb, covered by a small marble structure, is kept locked within the precincts of the Ghalib Academy. The Ghalib Academy has a large library and an interesting museum which, besides some paintings, also has a large collection of rocks.
The Tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, is on the opposite side of Mathura Road. Abdur Rahim Khan, who died sometime in 1626-27, was the son of Bairam Khan, Akbar's loyal protector during his early years. An influential courtier in the courts of both Akbar and Jahangir
, he was given the title of Khan-i-Khanan. Today Rahim is remembered as a popular Hindi poet. The now completely dilapidated tomb was an architectural landmark in its time. Built of red sandstone, it followed the design of Humayun's Tomb and also had a marble dome. The dome was stripped of its marble slabs, which were later used on the dome of Safdarjung's tomb.