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Adilabad Fort

Since the era of the epic the Mahabharata, different versions of the city of Delhi had been in existence. Delhi is sometimes called a combination of seven cities, sometimes a combination of nine different cities, spreading from the prehistoric era to the present day. Jahapanah was the fourth layer of fortified medieval Delhi, with its central citadel at Adilabad. Built by Mohammad bin Tughlaq of the Delhi Sultanate, Jahapanah spread from the Tughlaqabad fort on one side and the Siri Fort on the other side. With most of its walls and ramparts in ruins, Jahapanah gives the feeling of a lost jewel in the crown that is Delhi, and much of its remaining grandeur can be seen by an inquisitive tourist while accidentally visiting the Adilabad Fort, nestled between forests and foliage behind the more famous Tughlaqabad Fort.

History of Adilabad Fort

In the early Muslim era of Delhi Sultanate, the Sultanate was continuously threatened by Mongol invasions from its northwest borders. While the Mamluk Sultans of the Slave Dynasty refortified the Old Qila Rai Pithora and strengthened the walls of Mehrauli, Alauddin Khilji built up the Siri Fort to strengthen the fortification of the capital of the Sultanate from the other side. Vast lands in-between were inhabited by citizens of Delhi but did not have proper fortified walls, making that area relatively vulnerable towards any attack from the outside. After Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq had come to power in 1320 AD, he built up the massive Tughlaqabad Fort on one side of the city, but that did not solve the problem of protecting the entire area of the capital. Therefore, when his son Mohammad bin Tughlaq came to power in 1325, he decided to fortify the lands between Qila Rai Pithora and the Siri Fort to make the entire city of Delhi inaccessible to outside threats. Between 1325 and 1327, he built up huge fortified walls that connect the Siri Fort and Qila Rai Pithora and circumnavigating the city and gave the fortification the name Jahapanah which in Persian means the ‘Refuge of the World’. The small 14th-century fort of Adilabad, built as an outpost for the city of Delhi, worked out as the central citadel for this new fortification. In comparison to its predecessor the mammoth Tughlaqabad Fort, Adilabad is a dwarf as far as stonework is considered. However, with the construction of the peripheral fortifications around the areas of Jahapanah, the scope and utility of the fort increased multi-fold as it offered protection to the people living within the boundary. The fortified area had a palace citadel housing the royal palace as well as important administrative buildings. (more in the History section)

The Fort as one sees it today

Though much smaller than the Tughlaqabad Fort, Adilabad is a treat for any visitor. Much of the fort lies in ruins but fortunately, the basic structure has survived the ravages of time. Conservationists have called for more elaborate effort from the Archaeological Survey of India to protect this legacy of Mohammad bin Tughlaq. The Adilabad Fort can be reached by underdeveloped mud roads through undergrowth from the Tughlaqabad Fort, and the area is mostly surrounded by villages which make it difficult to develop both the Tughlaqabad and the Adilabad Forts as proper tourist destinations. But the potential of the fortresses are huge. There are not as many Tughlaq structures in Delhi as there are Mughal or even colonial. Each monument carries different characteristics and architectural style representing the era they come from.

The walls of Jahapanah, as has been mentioned earlier can be seen extensively spreading in between Siri and Mehrauli because of the redevelopment of the Siri Fort area into a cultural hub and the building of the Commonwealth Village during the Commonwealth Games in India, much of these ramparts have become partially inaccessible for the tourists visiting. Archaeological Survey of India has taken a project to make these areas more accessible and attractive for tourists visiting Delhi.

Tourist Information

The Adilabad Fort is an archaeological heritage monument controlled by the Government of India and is open between 9 AM and 6 PM, every day of the week. The remains of Jahapanah can be seen by clubbing it with one’s visit to the Siri Fort Auditorium or the Qutb Enclave of Mehrauli.

Text by Sammik C Basuu