Cycling to the oldest tomb in India

The ride was destined for Qutub Minar and on the way back we had planned to explore the oldest tomb in India of “Sultan Gari” but we couldn’t help but notice a tomb on top of a small hillock on the way to the Minar.

Azim Khan Tomb

After taking a small chai break on a kiosk near the Archaeological (Land mine) park, we asked for the route to the hilltop Gumbad from the Chai wala, who in return pointed at a small path and cautioned us for not going as it might be occupied by some illegal elements of the society. What he didn’t know was our strong strength of 13-14 riders at that day, so we marched ahead on the road which welcomes you by the board of “Shamshan Bhumi”.

The tomb

The tomb which is in the dilapidated state so much so that even the name has been erased. Google search revealed that it was the tomb of a Mughal Army’s general for whom the tomb was commissioned in the 17th century. It offers a majestic view of Delhi and especially Qutub Minar on the other side of the Delhi-Gurgaon road. Feel free to intrude from one of the gates opposite to the tomb, climb the stairs and enjoy the view and creativity of Delhiites on the Tomb’s wall.

Second, we went to see Sultan Gari, near Ryan International School in Vasant Kunj. It’s one place of high importance and a place where you should take extra care of your cycles. In short “don’t leave them alone”.

Guarding the cycles

Welcome to the first tomb built in India, which is a mosque and a tomb, prayed by Muslims and Hindus alike and was a temple in the past. Welcome to Sultan Gari.

It’s astonishing at the vast numbers of archaeological sites Delhi has in store, most of them in plain sight but in ruin, because the authorities don’t give them the care they require and mostly because of the visitors who don’t respect the sanctity of the place. Almost in all the places of such stature, the visitors leave everlasting damage to it with writing and using them for unethical purposes.

Sultan Gari

But and a big but, Sultan Gari is one of those best exceptions which is taken care by the authorities along with the locals who have managed to convert the nearby area into absolute lush greenness despite it being in the Nangal Dewat forest and hidden from the limelight.

What about the stories? it’s a landmine of stories.

Gari, which means a cave is a place where the crypt is supporting an octagonal roof by 2 columns believed to be of Hindu (Jain) origin. It’s different from regular mosques as it has some tombs in its premises which is never the case. It looks like a castle from the main entrance built on raised platform cornered with Chhatris. Built by Iltumish in 1231 AD for Prince Nasiru’d Din Mahmud who had an unfortunate and untimely death after he won the battle of Lakhnauti in 1225 AD. This Jain temple was modified to be a mosque and now is also believed to be the resting place of a peer veneered by Muslims and Hindus alike.

The most beautiful Mihrab

The ceiling rests on columns raised with two pillars each robbed from an earlier Hindu shrine; carved lintels from another were found embedded in the thick lime-concrete roof. Other pieces were used in the ceilings of the prayer-chamber and bastions and the pillars re-utilized in the verandahs, originally used as a madrasa, after chipping the decoration off them. The tomb was repaired later by Firuz Shah Tughluq.

— Archaeological Survey of India, Sultan Ghari,

The interesting part was the basement area which can be reached by a staircase suitable for one person at a time, and it’s a surreal place to see. Dark and eliminated with stray rays of lights forcing themselves in. Crypts of peers covered with Chaddars and is a sight to experience.


The first chhatri which was first built in Moth ki Masjid also finds its place in the tomb of Gari.

It’s perfectly hidden in the forest of nearby villages of Mahipalpur and Rangpuri, the locals from both the villages visit this shrine on occasion of marriage and for receiving blessings. Thursday is when it receives maximum footfall and the famous politician Sajjan Kumar also came here to receive blessings.

The revered
Symmetry at its best

Not far from the Archaeological park which can be explored after this, it’s well connected on the Palam-Mahipalpur road.

There are no charges, and its open throughout the week but do maintain the sanctity of this respected place. The first tomb of India, “Sultan Gari”.

We abutted the ride with a whole lot of stories to brag about.


Instagram: Jo_Musafir

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