TOMB OF BALBAN (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 - History)

News-CRUX-10     6th November 2023        

Context: The recently renovated Tomb of Balban, originally built in the 13th century, has held various roles throughout its history, serving as a shelter for debtors and fugitives, a Sultan's final resting place, and a significant landmark in India's architectural heritage.

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban (1266 – 1287 AD)

  • About: Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, a Sultan of the Mamluk (Slave) dynasty— the first of the Delhi Sultanate dynasties — ruled from Delhi between 1266 AD and 1287 AD.
  • Balban was sold as a slave to the then-ruler Iltumish in 1232 CE, who later released him. 
  • Early Life: Balban, one of the most remarkable rulers, was born to a Central Asian Turkic noble origin and in his childhood, he was seized as a slave.
  • Ascension to the throne: Balban was rewarded with the title of Ulugh Khan by Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah. He was also felicitated with the tag of Naib-i-mamlikat or Deputy Sultan.
  • Balban incorporated Persian customs and traditions into his rule, including sizda, paibas (the practice of kissing the sultan's feet), jamnibas (kissing hands), and celebrating Naurauz, the Persian New Year.
  • Diwan-i-Ariz: He established a defense department.
  • Balban took stringent measures against robbers and dacoits, making the roads of Delhi safe for travel.

Tomb of Balban

  • It’s a square building with spacious rooms on either side.
  • It is the same place where his son Sher Khan, Khan e Shaheed was interred only two years before him. 
  • However, only one grave is extant now,” wrote author Rana Safvi in her book Where stones speak: Historical Trails in Mehrauli, the First City of Delhi.
  • The structure served as a sanctuary for debtors and fugitives, offering refuge from debt collectors and angry pursuers.