Ranveer Singh has played the role of Alauddin Khilji in Padmavat, who is portrayed as a cruel villain of the Delhi Sulatanate. It also makes a conflicting opinion about the ruler. To talk about the Delhi-Khilji, DT took a group of historians and explorers to Khilji’s Tomb for a conversation. A child asked his parents “Who was Alauddin Khilji?”, who had come to visit the Qutub Complex. “He was a ruler and someone you will watch in Padmavat.” This brief conversation made smile on historian Archana Ojha face.
The professor of Kamla Nehru College gave us a tour of the Khilji Tomb and we talked about ruler influence on Delhi, contribution to city architecture, and also talked about some interesting facts and place of Khilji connection. Joining her on the tour were Ajeet Kumar a historical professor at Kirori Mal College and Soumi Roy from the Delhi –based tour agency India City Walks. Soumi organized walks at various monuments and told us that after Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie the number of tourist is increased in his tomb. Which was earlier neglected by tourists visiting the Qutub Minar. Soumi said: “Only a few know about Khilji and the history of this place. So earlier, most tourists would just ignore it as it wasn’t the most ‘beautiful’ monument around,”.
‘Khilji wasn’t a barbarian, stubborn ruler. He was a strategic administrator’
But the Bhasli’s film might remind you the Khal Drogo from the Games Of Thrones. Historians insist that’s how ruler is described by popular culture, but that was not khilji. He was a ruler who spent his 16-18 hours to discuss about the betterment of his kingdom. He works for his kingdom economic stability and plane army strategies.
Ajeet said: “If true history is shown in any movie, it will turn out to be a flop. I think we need to keep movies separate from history, so if Ranveer Singh looks like a Khilji who was a barbaric ruler, then that’s not surprising.”
Archana added: “In movies, they show that the lives of the rulers were grand, but the reality is that most of their time was spent in fighting wars and working long hours.”
‘Khilji is also called a medieval economist’
Delhi is known for its street market but nobody knows that he was khilji who intorduced different markets in delhi. Soumi siad: “People go to Chandni Chowk when they want to buy clothes and a different market when they want to buy electronics. This is exactly how markets were segregated in the medieval times,”
‘Bhansali’s Khilji wears furs, Allauddin used to wear cottons’
While Bhasali’s Khilji wears furs, but the real Khilji wore cotton clothes. Ojha told us,
“At the beginning of the Turkish invasion, particularly from the period of Qutub-ud-din Aibak, at the beginning of the Delhi Sultanate, new dressing styles were introduced. Rulers would wear long coats and pyajamas with leather boots. But after some time, they realised that wearing those kinds of clothes wasn’t conducive to the Delhi weather or anywhere in the northern part of India. Then they started wearing cottons rather than woollens. Ranveer’s look in movie is not what Khilji was. The film looks too exotic and grand.”
‘If it wouldn’t have been for Khilji, Delhi would have been a different city’
No matter how much people criticized Khilji but he contribution to medieval history is great. Archana siad: “What Delhi’s architecture is today is because of him. South Delhi, which is a prime location where everyone wants to own a house, is where the Sultanate also decided to establish their empire,”
Ajeet added: “Delhi would have been very different without Khilji.”
‘Khilji built the extended area of the qutub complex. The Alai Darwaza is an example of his architectural brilliance’
Soumi said: “Delhi’s architecture wouldn’t have been what it is if it wouldn’t have been for Khilji. The tourists and the locals love these places and the footfall at all these places, especially the Khilji Tomb, has increased significantly, thanks to the Padmaavat buzz.”
Ajeet said: “The Qutub complex was the first complex of Delhi – built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, sultan of Delhi – and the complex that we see today is an extended area built by Khilji. One of the examples of Khilji’s architectural brilliance is the Alai Darwaza. There were four darwazas initially, but all of them are broken now,”
Archana added: “We need to understand that the site where Khilji’s Tomb is, was not discovered by Sultanate rulers. It was the provincial city of the Chauhan dynasty. There was Lal Kot in Mehruali, which is very close to this place, with a six-feet-high fortification wall. So, this site was considered to be geologically, geographically and strategically important, because from here, one could also control Rajasthan,”
‘Padmaavat has created curiosity about Alauddin Khilji among people’
Nonody talks about Khilji Tomb except Historians. But after Padmavat the curiosity of people increase to know about Khilji and tourists increase to visit the Qutub complex.
Saumi said: “Whenever a Bollywood or a Hollywood movie is made on a specific topic, it generates an interest among people. For example, PK brought Agrasen Ki Baoli into the limelight,”
And Shrawan gave the example of Jodha Akbar and said: “When Jodhaa Akbar released, there was an increased interest in Agra Fort and Akbar’s personality. Movies – Hollywood or Bollywood – have acted as a tool in piquing the curiosity of the locals about the landmarks of the place where the movie is based. The Harry Potter series made a village in Edinburgh a major tourist spot. So, at present, we have Padmaavat which has made people curious about Alauddin Khilji’s dynasty and how he was as a person. Delhi also has its own connection with Khilji,”
Archana continuous taking about the Khilji said Delhi people will always be curious to know about Khilji because
“his association with Delhi, what he did for it, and the kind of architectural features that he added to the city.”