Forts in North India

Siri Fort

Siri is the second city of Delhi and was built by Sultan Alaud-Din Khilji in about 1303, to the north of Mehrauli. The few remains of the city can be seen in the Siri Fort complex near the Asian Games Village area, east of Hauz Khas. Visitors can reach the fort complex by either taking the Khel Gaon Marg on the west or Josip Broz Tito Marg on the east. High Rubble-built walls in stretches in the southern direction and western direction, some bastions and flame-shaped battlements are all that are left of the strong fortress city today which compelled ferocious fighters like the Mongols to accept defeat. The city derives its name from the Hindi word sir meaning head because about 8000 heads of Mongol soldiers were buried in the walls of the city.Siri Fort is one of the many forts of Delhi, which were built during the time of the Delhi Sultanate (AD 1191-1526) in the medieval age. The kingdom of Delhi was constantly threatened by hoards of Mongol tribesmen who had been descending in waves to loot India since the 13th century. The Slave dynasty (AD 1193-1290), which was the first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, also faced this threat in the later half of its reign. Balban, the last important ruler of this dynasty successfully countered the Mongol threat. In the course of time, the reins of the Delhi Sultanate passed into the hands of the Khilji Dynasty (AD 1290-1316).Siri Fort commands a special place in the realms of history because of the various aspects. The very first is that, Siri was the second city to be built in Delhi and the second is that, it was never conquered. The city was build by Sultan Alaud-Din Khilji in year 1303. The city was situated in a ravine north of Qutab Minar.

History

Ala-ud-din Khilji was a powerful ruler who belonged to the Khilji dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate. He was also a great patron of architecture and to him goes the credit of getting the Siri Fort in Delhi constructed. The fort was mainly built by Ala-ud-din to protect the people of his capital from the frequent invasions of the Mongols, who easily penetrated the weak defenses of India's borders time and again to reach all the way up to Delhi. He succeeded in his mission of protecting his subjects after building the Siri Fort.Ala-ud-din Khilji ascended the throne of the Delhi Sultanate in AD 1296. He was a strong monarch, who was constantly expanding his empire. Ala-ud-din was also a great builder. He built the fort city at Siri, which served as the administrative center of the Khilji kingdom and was the first city in Delhi to be built by the Muslim rulers of India. The rulers of the Slave dynasty, who were the first Muslim rulers of India and the first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate before the Khiljis, used Lal Kot, the fort city of the last Hindu rulers of Delhi. He also began to put into shape his grand plans of beautifying the Qutab Minar complex. He added the Alai Darwaza, a magnificent gateway with inlaid marble decorations and latticed stone screens, which showcases the remarkable craftsmanship of the Turkish artisans who worked on it. He also planned to build the Alai Minar, which was conceived as a greater tower than the already existing Qutab Minar but the construction of this tower was abandoned after the completion of the 24.5-meter high first story.In AD 1303, the Mongols under their leader Taraghai plundered Delhi and almost captured it. However the marauders did not capture the city and without reason turned back and left. Meanwhile, Ala-ud-din Khilji was away from Delhi, busy in one of his military campaigns in the Deccan region in South India. Returning back to Delhi from his Deccan campaign, Ala-ud-din Khilji decided to build a defensive fortress at Siri with strong fortified ramparts and impregnable bastions. This was the third fort to be built within the city of Delhi. The construction of the Siri Fort and the city within it began in AD 1304. The place he chose was a plain ground around five km to the north-east of the Qutab Minar where forces attacking or defending Delhi used to camp.


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