When dusk falls, the gates of the Hauz Khas complex are closed for visitors. Alongside, the vibrant and youth-oriented market in Hauz Khas village comes alive. Almost every day, there seems to be an extravaganza of events from musical night to ladies' nights and open mics. Perhaps, the charm of the place also comes from its location wherein two worlds (of the past and the present) come together.
The emperors and queens of the Sultanate times are long gone but their presence is preserved by cities built around the capital that are now a part of modern life. Among many, one of them is Hauz Khas built within the Siri, the second Medieval city of the Delhi Sultanate, built by Allaudin Khalji.
From old people taking a walk around the water tank, couples engaging in a leisurely stroll, budding bloggers taking photographs around the large niches carved in the monuments alongside the tank, and the urban shopping for designer clothes- Hauz Khas in South Delhi is very busy landscape. Yet, one cannot say how many look through these niches at the stories of their origin.
Hauz Khas (Or the Royal Tank) was developed as the water reservoir of the city by Allaudin Khilji. However later re-excavated by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Tughlaq (1351-1388) was an able ruler and a major builder. He built several monuments around the tank including a madrasa(seminary or school) and a mosque. His own tomb was later built here.
Among the three madrasas built by Firoz Shah, the one in Hauz Khas was considered the best. It was the largest and best-equipped Islamic seminary anywhere in the world. Built in as an L-shaped structure, every floor has staircases that lead to the tank. Many cenotaphs, in the form of octagonal and square chhatris are also seen, which are reported to be possibly tombs of teachers of the Madrasa.
Taimur who invaded Delhi in 1399 camped here and was widely impressed by the tank but wrongly ascribed it to Firoz Shah.
After several temporary attempts to restore the water quality at the tank, it saw a permanent change in water quality in 2019 when EVOLVE Engineering, a citizen initiative created the Hauz Khas Urban Wetlands with public donations and with the help of a corporate sponsor. Two constructed wetlands were built, one to filter the incoming water flow and one to filter the existing water body, as well as numerous floating wetland islands that were adopted by members of the public. Together they form the largest constructed wetland system in Delhi and are unique in that they were entirely funded by and built by individual citizens and a corporation.
Given its otherworldly charm, the area has often catered to stories from the silver screen. Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali who has always vouched for his love for Delhi has shot many movies in the capital. The place where Jordan and Heer in Rockstar try local alcohol is indeed Hauz Kas. The dramatic sequence of Agar Tum Saath Ho from Tamasha was shot through the lanes of HKV and cafe Social. The song Agar main Kahoon from Lakshya starring Preity and Hrithik was also shot in the Hauz Khas complex.
The Hauz Khas area is surrounded by the Safdarjung development area and Deer Park perfect for morning walks.
Apart from its quirky and edgy cafes, the area is also known for independent fashion boutiques, art galleries and vintage Bollywood poster shops.
The arterial narrow lanes also bring a sense of coolness in the heat. Indeed, it forms an epicentre of Delhi’s vibrant social circle.