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Title: Hauz-i-Shamsi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jahaz Mahal, New Delhi, Mehrauli, Chor Minar, List of parks in Delhi
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


View of Pavilion in Hauz-i-Shamsi
Type reservoir
Basin countries India
Surface area 2 ha (5 acres)
Settlements Mehrauli

Hauz-i-Shamsi (Persian: شمئ حوض, literally "sunny watertank") is a water storage reservoir or tank built by Iltutmish of the Slave Dynasty in 1230 CE, at a location revealed to him in a dream by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. A palace called the Jahaz Mahal was built on the eastern edge of the same reservoir during the Lodi dynasty period in the 16th century as a retreat or Inn for use by pilgrims. Also at the edge of Hauz is the tomb of 17th century Persian writer in the Mughal court, Abdul-Haqq Dehlavi. The monuments are situated in Mehrauli, Delhi.[1][2][3][4][5]


A popular legend narrated is of Iltumish’s dream in which Muhammad directed him to build a reservoir at a particular site. When Iltumish inspected the site the day after his dream, he reported to have found a hoof print of Muhammad's horse. He then erected a pavilion to mark the sacred location and excavated a large tank (reservoir) around the pavilion to harvest rain water.[1][2][3][6]

Stone slab depicting imprint of Muhammad's Horse's hoop
Another version of the legend linked is that Muhammad appeared in a dream not only to Iltumish but also to the Muslim sufi saint KhawajaQutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki R.A. indicating the same particular location, where the hoof print of Muhammad’s horse was imprinted, for the construction of a water tank. Since drinking water supply was acute in the newly founded capital of Iltumish (the first medieval city of Qila Rai Pithora of Delhi) a tank was dug at the location indicated in the dream, which resulted in water jetting out from a spring source. It was, thereafter, named as Hauz-i-Shamsi, and Khawaja, the saint who divined it, came to be known as Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki or simply 'Kaki'. The name Kaki was attributed to him by virtue of this keramat (miracle). The Khawaja died in 1235 AD. He is buried in Mehrauli (near the Qutab Minar) and it is inferred that Qutub Minar was also named after him.[7] His dargah or tomb is considered one of India's oldest and revered shrines. His exalted divinity has also been extolled by Moinuddin Chishti who had said:[8]
Kaki was such an exalted divine person that even Moinuddin Chishti had decreed that those coming to seek his blessing should first pay homage to the former. The practice is still adhered to.


View of Jahaz Mahal from Hauz-i-Shamsi.

Hauz-i-Shamsi originally covered an area of 2 ha (4.9 acres).[9] The domed pavilion (pictured) constructed by Iltumish to mark the foot print Muhammad’s horse located in the middle of the tank is a double storeyed structure made of red sandstone supported on twelve pillars. It could be approached only by boat (now a foot bridge exists). The original stone, on which the foot print of the horse of Muhammad was imprinted, was located at this pavilion. It has since been removed but replaced by a new one. In view of its religious significance, the water stored in the tank was considered sacred. Many famous emperors and saints have been buried on the periphery of the reservoir. Because of reduction in the size of the reservoir over the years, due to encroachments and siltation, pavilion's present location is seen in the eastern edge of the tank.[3]

A painting of Hauzi-i-Shamsi feeding a Jharna for the garden with two pavilions
Jharna pavilion built by Akbar Shah II

A Jharna or water fall emanating from the Hauz-i-Shamsi is located close to the Jahaz Mahal. It is identified as a significant water structure that had been developed by Nawab Ghaziuddin around 1700 AD as a pleasure garden during the Mughal rule. An underground pipe (still visible in ruins) supplied the runoff to the Jharna from Hauz-i–Shamshi. This was in addition to an open channel close by that carried the overflow of the tank to Tughlaqabad fort to enhance the drinking water supply.[6] The Jharna structure was built in three parts (pictured – painting from Metcalfe’s album). The first part consisted of the reservoir or the tank, the second part was the water fall and the last part consisted of the fountains. Akbar Shah II built the pavilion on the side and his son Bahadur Shah II added the central pavilion, more in the style of hayat hakhsh pool in the Red Fort.[2] The Jharna, which was once the Mughal retreat and the highlight of the three day festival of the Phool Walon Ki Sair, is seen now partly in ruins and the surroundings have been encroached upon (25 families are reported to be living here now). The water fall is seen more in the form of a drain in need of urgent restoration measures.[10]


Hauz-i-Shamsi and the Jharna, which are in state of deterioration, has drawn the attention of the Delhi High Court. The High Court commented severely on the inaction of the concerned authorities on their upkeep of the monuments and observed:[11]
Since 2000, we have been hearing this case and only files are getting thicker. The concerned authorities should now start taking action, seriously.
A conservation architect has remarked:[10]
The Jharna is an extremely significant water structure and connected with protected monuments like Jahaz Mahal and Hauz-i-Shamsid. However, the multiplicity of ownership has led to neglect of the monument. The festival here is held by the MCD and the land otherwise belongs to the DDA. Ideally, the archaeological department or the ASI should take it over along with the MCD and the DDA ensuring that the environment around it is restored and the encroachments removed.

Hauz-i-Shamsi is also considered as one of the heritage components of the historic & traditional water management systems of the city of Delhi and is mandated to be conserved under a ruling of the High Court.[12]



  1. ^ a b "Hauz-i-Shamsi(Hauz)". Pilgrimage Tours. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  2. ^ a b c Lucy Peck (2005). Delhi - A thousand years of Building. Hauz Shamsi (New Delhi: Roli Books Pvt Ltd.). p. 233.  
  3. ^ a b c Y.D.Sharma (2001). Delhi and its Neighbourhood. Hauzi-i-Shamsi (New Delhi: Archeological Survey of India). pp. 63–64 &73. Retrieved 2009-04-24. A red stone domed pavilion resting on twelve pillars located near the south-western corner of the tank, but originally believed to have been situated in its centre, is identified with the pavilion built by Iltumish. The original stone with hoof print is believed to have been removed, the present stone being a later renewal. The waters of the tank are regarded as sacred, and several graves of Muslim saints lie around it. 
  4. ^ Patrick Horton; Richard Plunkett; Hugh Finlay (2002). Delhi. Jahaj Mahal and Hauz-i-Shamsi (Footscray, Vic.: Lonely Planet). p. 128.  
  5. ^ "The Tomb of Shaikh ‘Abdul Haq Dihlavi".  
  6. ^ a b "Exploring the Mehrauli Archaeological Park: Hauz -e –Shamshi" (pdf). Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  7. ^ "Khawaja Qutabud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki (R.A)". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  8. ^ Sameer Arshad (2008-09-28). "Attack took place close to emblem of Indian secularism". Times of India. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Historical tank cries for attention". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  10. ^ a b "This monument seeks a protector". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  11. ^ "From the courtroom". Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  12. ^ "Chapter – 7 : Conservation & Heritage Management" (pdf). Historic & Traditional Water Management Systems. p. 21. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 

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