The Tombs of Ala-ud-din Khilji, Sultan Iltutmish and Imam Zamin lie within the precincts of the Qutb Complex in Mehrauli, South of Delhi which is easily approachable via local cabs, auto rickshaws and buses.
Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji formerly named as Ali Gurshap was the second ruler of the Turkic-Afghan or the Khilji Dynasty and was known as one of the most powerful rulers to have reigned over the Delhi Sultanate between 1296 AD and 1316 AD. He was also known to have been one of those few rulers to repeatedly defeat the Mughals and hence save India from their hostile raids and severe attacks.
History has that Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji was so mesmerised by the beauty of Rani Padmini, who was then the wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh and reigning Queen of Chittor, so much so that in order to win her, he attacked Chittor in 1303 AD, an epic battle that will remain engrained in the minds of people up till time in memoriam. This fact has also been penned down by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in his epic poem named 'Padmavat' written in 1540 AD.
The last name of Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji sometimes spelled as 'Khalji' is derived from the Persian and Arabic languages however, the original surname in their Pashto language is 'Ghiljai'. He was married to his own cousin and the daughter of Jalal-ud-din who initially appointed Ala-ud-din as the Governor General of Kara, which is a city near Allahabad. Ala-ud-din was not satisfied with this position as he was highly ambitious and wanted to rule. He killed his own uncle in 1296 AD, however, after learning about his death, Jalal-ud-din's wife, Malika Jehan, declared her younger son, Rukn-ud-din Khilji, as the heir to the Throne. Upon hearing this, Ala-ud-din marched to Delhi on 3rd October 1296 AD with the head of Jalal-ud-din pierced on a spike and declared himself as the Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate Throne. He imprisoned Malika Jehan and blinded both her sons, Arkali Khan and Rukn-ud-din Khilji.
Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji plundered over the wealth of the Nobles and sometimes resorted to even imprisoning and blinding them. His Army along with his two Generals, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan plundered Gujarat in 1297 AD and looted the Somnath Temple as well as the Sacred Shivalinga which broke into pieces. After Kanhad Dev Songara, the ruler of Jalore in Rajasthan, learned about this misconduct, he attacked the Generals along with assistance from Muhammad Shah who was then a General in the army of the Khilji Empire. The Shivalinga was re-possessed and washed in the Holy Ganges River. The fragmented pieces were then re-established across different Hindu Temples in Jalore.
After this battle, Muhammad Shah travelled to Ranthambore and stayed with Hammir Dev Chauhan. This news was soon delivered to Ala-ud-din Khilji by Ulugh Khan who then ordered his Generals to conquer Ranthambore. A Cavalry of 80,000 armies and infantry marched to Ranthambore in 1299 AD to battle Hammir Dev Chauhan. The Army were defeated by Hammir and Nusrat Khan was killed in the process while Ulugh Khan fled to Delhi. Ala-ud-din Khilji resented his defeat and in 1301 AD, he marched with his Army to battle and to conquer Ranthambore again. Hammir was a skilled warrior and prepared strategically for this battle. Despite the bloody encounter, the Fort stood erect and strong against all attacks and finally Ala-ud-din had to resort to Diplomacy. Hammir Dev Chauhan did not trust Ala-u-din and took advice from his royal counsellors who suggested that war was always not the best resort. Hammir then sent two of his generals named Ratipal (who earned the King's trust by bravely fighting all the battles) and Ranmal (Whose father was executed by the King and all property confiscated) to the Camp of Khilji. These generals were easily bribed by Ala-ud-din which consequently caused the fall of Ranthambore. After conquering Gujarat, the Sultan punished the innocent families of all the rebels and caused immense suffering to them.
In 1316 AD, Ala-ud-din Khilji eventually died of oedema and some state that Malik Naib who was his lieutenant help to hasten his death. The Sultan's loyal Nobles constructed a Madrasa and Tomb in his honour which exist today at the rear end of the Qutb Complex in Delhi. The L-shaped Madrasa is situated southwest of the Mosque which also houses the Tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji. The Madrasa is built as a series of small individual apartments where students were taught about Islam. The stretch runs along two edges of a quadrangle courtyard measuring 35 x 25 meters approximately. The small apartment-like rooms are covered by roofs similar to the roof of the Tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji. The Tomb in fact sits inside the central room of a building next to the Madrasa which is a unique feature witnessed for the first time in ancient history of the Country. The Dome of the Tomb has somewhat disappeared through these centuries while a few of the apartment rooms of the Madrasa are still intact and were recently restored.
The Alai Minar lie next to the Tomb of Ala-ud-din Khilji which was an ambitious project started by the Sultan to rival the Qutb Minar but was abandoned half-way due to his demise. Today the rubble structure stands north of the Mosque.
Ala-ud-din Khilji's Tomb and Madrasa are seen in ruins and renovation work is purely uncertain. The Tomb of Khilji houses two small chambers on the eastern and western sides that connect to a narrow passage where recent excavations revealed several graves. The three sections which include the Tomb and the two chambers are enclosed within two walls that have a clear passage between to enable a walk around it.
The Tomb of Iltutmish who was the second ruler of the Mamluk Dynasty or Slave Dynasty was built around 1235 AD and lies in the north western corner within the courtyard of the Qutb complex at Mehrauli in Delhi. The squinches around the central chamber measuring 9 Sq. Mtr. holds evidence that the Tomb once had a Dome that seems to have collapsed. The Cenotaph made of white marble can be seen placed on a raised platform within the heart of the chamber. The Chamber depicts a facade dressed with ornate carvings on the entrance as well as interior walls while parts of the exterior portion and the entrance are overlaid with quartzite.
The Tomb is square-shaped built in sandstone measuring 8.41 metres high up to the base of the dome and 9.1 meters along each side. The Tomb has north, east and south entrances as the western side of the interior wall is considered as the direction of Mecca and houses a Mihrab seen adorned with marble and richly decorated with geometrical patterns, inscriptions in Tughra, Kufic and Nakshi scripts highlighting verses from the Holy Book of Quran as well as diamond hallmarks, tassels, lotus, bell and chain motifs which are typical elements of Hindu architecture and hence showcasing the blend of both cultures within the Tomb Chamber.
The upper chamber which was once covered but is now an open site holds the marble cenotaph and the northern end reveals a flight of steps that lead you down to the burial chamber of the Sultan. The square-shaped base of the Tomb has an octagonal overhead that showcases ogee corbelled arches and the exterior wall is also 2.2 metres thinner than most of the Tombs seen in that era which may have caused the Dome to collapse due to lack of support especially not being able to withstand the outward pressure produced by the Dome.
The Tomb of Imam Muhammad Ali who was also known as Imam Zamin in short sits on a raised platform close to Alai Darwaza. History has that Imam Zamin was a Turkic Saint who settled in India during the reign of Sikander Lodi sometime around 1500 AD. He, like many others, constructed his own Tomb where he was buried with complete rituals and honour after his demise in 1539 AD and inscriptions on the eastern side of the Tomb entrance holds evidence to this fact. The Dome of the Tomb sits on a base structure shaped like an octagon built of sandstone while its interiors are perfectly polished with white plaster that depicts perfect and perforated Jalis also known as small screens which is a typical design seen in all the Monuments constructed during the Lodi era.
The Qutb Complex is opened from sunrise to sunset on all days except Fridays. Tourists and Visitors can view these Tombs for an entrance fee of INR 10.00 per head which is applicable for all Indian Citizens and visitors from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Thailand and Myanmar while Foreign Nationals are charged INR 250.00 or $5.00 per head as entry fee. Children who are 15 years old and below are allowed free entry.