The ruins of Firoz Shah Kotla are any storyteller's dream come true. It is a 14-century abode of a ruler who was one of the great builders of Delhi. This is a place that houses the relic carrying the message of another great monarch who lived even earlier, some 2300 years ago, a place that has hosted a couple of historical plays, and a place where Djinns are supposed to dwell today.
There are many reasons to visit Firoz Shah Kotla. It has something for everybody- history buffs, lovers of architecture, photographers, the devout, family picnickers and also for those looking for the paranormal.
Firoz Shah Kotla (Kotla meaning Fort) is considered the sixth city (followed by Qila Raipithora, Lal Kot, Siri fort, Jahanpanah, and Tughlaqabad) that makes up the historical Delhi as we know it today. It is a 14-century made royal citadel of the Sultan of Delhi Firoz Shah Tughlaq. It is also the first city fort in Delhi to be built along the banks of the Yamuna river. Located near ITO in Delhi (just next door to Feroz Shah Kotla cricket stadium), it is a five minutes walk from the nearest metro station on the Red Fort line of Delhi metro.
Besides the ruins of the royal palace, the fort has a very impressive baoli (stepwell) also, which is the only circular baoli in Delhi, a huge Jami Masjid and Ashokan Pillar.
Under the orders of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, Topra Ashokan Pillar from 3rd century BCE was removed and carried from Topra Kalan, near Ambala in Haryana, on large barrages on the Yamuna River and installed here in 1356. The inscription on the pillar is written in Brahmi script, Pali and later on, in Sanskrit. The pillar is installed on top of a three-floor high pyramidal structure which has corridors and chambers on all floors. It is these dark chambers that add another dimension to this place. For the uninformed, it is one of the few places that are famously considered haunted in Delhi.
The Firoz Shah Kotla draws a huge crowd every Thursday. Most of this crowd’s centre of attraction is the pyramidal structure. It is here that the believers offer their prayers and ask for wishes from the djinns which are supposed to descend here on the day. This three-story structure on top of which the Ashokan Pillar is installed is well known for another reason.
The dark old chambers on the lower levels of the structure are considered to be the centre of paranormal activities. There are tales of visitors going through strange and unexplained experiences while moving about these lower chambers. One can see incense and other offerings in these chambers which only add to the spookiness of the whole complex. Every heritage walk leader who brings a group here never fails to mention this spooky character of the whole place, adding some unverified but interesting sounding anecdotes highlighting the spooky quotient of this place.
The large courtyard of the Jami Masjid is the favorite spot of the Delhi news photographers at every Eid festival. It makes for a perfect shot of the devout offering their prayers that appear in newspapers the next day.
Firoz Shal Kotla has also played the perfect setting for Dharamvir Bharati’s epic play Andha Yug and Girish Karnard’s play Tughlaq. These historical plays were staged, after dark, amongst the ruins of Feroz Shah Kotla a few times over the years to a mesmerized audience.