Replete with hundreds of forts and monuments from different periods and dynasties, the city of Delhi speaks of mighty rulers and their need for defence systems during those eras. As one traverses away from central Delhi and moves towards extreme southern direction towards Khel Gaon, one can see stretches of a long fort wall that is broken at different junctions and has almost disappeared over a period of time. Straddled by Panchsheel Park and the Asiad village Complex on one side, the Siri fort is in total ruins today with most of its gates destroyed.
Lying five kilometres from the Qutub Minar, the Siri Fort wall which stretches from Shahpur Jat village to Panchsheel Park, was constructed with a mixture of stone and bricks and considered to be very strong. Fortified with seven gates for entry and exit, only the south eastern gate stands today but is in utter ruins. Built in a oval shape, it is said that the fort was an architectural marvel with many domed structures like the Tofhewala Gumbad Masjid and a palace with thousand pillars but built outside the fort limits. Many structures existing in the eastern part of the fort speak of the prowess of a dynasty that was known for its building activity.
It is said that Ala-ud-Din Khilji, who was known as the first real emperor of India, built the Siri Fort in the second city of Delhi, that is Siri to stop the invading Mongols and their army who had already plundered Punjab. This architectural heritage is considered as one of the best historical monuments from the 13th century. Securing the fort from frequent invasions, Khilji managed to defeat the Mongols and captured thousands of soldiers who were brutally trampled by elephants to death. The heads of 8,000 soldiers lie buried in its walls and so the city was named as Siri after the Hindi word ‘sir’ meaning head. Historical records also show that Ala-ud-Din later mounted ruthless attacks on the Mongols who never dared to invade or attack India again.
With Ala-ud-Din’s death in 1316, the fort was plundered and destroyed by a succession of local rulers and all the building material like stones, bricks including artifacts looted to build their own structures.
Siri was the second of the seven cities of medieval Delhi and if one wants to take a peek into that era, a visit to the palace is a must which will give you an idea of the riches and architectural heritage of those times.