Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

The legacy of Firoz Shah, 14th-century ruler who built Kotla in Delhi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Notable works by Firoz Shah Tughlaq

Mains level : Major happenings in his reign

  • Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium is set to be renamed Arun Jaitley Stadium after the former Finance Minister.
  • The stadium took its name from a 14th century fortress Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq

  • Firoz Shah was a Turk ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388.
  • He worked to improve the infrastructure of the empire building canals, rest-houses and hospitals, creating and refurbishing reservoirs and digging wells.
  • He founded several cities around Delhi, including Jaunpur, Firozpur, Hissar, Firozabad, Fatehabad.
  • He imposed Jizya tax on all non-Muslims and did not even exempt Brahmins and beggers as done by his predecessors.
  • He tried to ban practices that the orthodox theologians considered un-Islamic.

Notable works

  • He built Feroz Shah Kotla (kotla means fortress), peppered Delhi with gardens, constructed canals, hunting lodges, and repaired Qutub Minar, Hauz Khas (royal tank) and Surajkund (lake of the Sun).
  • Firoz Shah was the first ruler to build a fortress next to river Yamuna which was a quite an urban sprawl.
  • Emperor Ashoka’s pillar, erected near Ambala in 250 BC, was transported to Delhi and placed in Firozabad. Spear writes.
  • Firoz Shah did public construction activity on a massive scale. Welfare projects such as gardens, serai (inn), water supply were his priority.
  • By improving sources of water supply and irrigation facilities in Delhi and surrounding areas, he helped bring down the price of food grains too.
  • It’s a known fact that Haryana’s irrigation systems go back to his era.
  • The British called him the ‘father of the irrigation department’ because of the many gardens and canals that he built.

Repairing older structures

  • Apart from indulging in building his own structures, Firoz Shah “felt a sense of responsibility” towards old structures that needed repair, among which Qutub Minar, Huaz Khas and Surajkund stand out.
  • In his reign, an earthquake damaged the two top storeys of Qutub Minar. He repaired the Minar and added a little pavilion at the top.
  • In the late 18th century, however, during another round of repair, an engineer called Major Smith replaced it with his own pavilion.
  • Firoz Shah also repaired Hauz Khas, the royal tank built during Alauddin Khalji’s reign in the late 13th century.
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