The city of Hisar Firoza, which is now known as Hisar, was founded by Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq (r: 1351-1388). In a previous post, we explored the establishment of Hisar, enlightening readers on its historical origins.
Sultan Firoz Shah's passion for hunting also played a significant role in the establishment of Hisar. The Great Laras was his favourite hunting ground.
The Firoz Shah palace complex at Hisar boasts several remarkable structures, including the Diwan-e-Aam (Audience Hall), Lat ki Masjid, and an Ashoka pillar. Outside the fort, one can find the Gujari Mahal, another splendid palace.
Firoz Shah and the Milkmaid:
Legend has it that Firoz Shah built the Gujari Mahal palace for his beloved Gujari girl, a native of Hisar. The meeting between Firoz Shah and Gujari girl took place before Firoz Shah's accession to the throne.
During one scorching summer, Prince Firoz embarked on a customary hunting expedition and arrived at the Great Laras. In the vicinity, there lived a Sufi saint whose dera provided solace from the relentless desert heat and quenched the thirst of the weary.
In the evening, Firoz visited the saint's abode to pay his respects. As he prepared to depart, a captivating milkmaid entered the premises to quench her thirst after tending to her herd of buffalos throughout the day. Their eyes met, and it was a love that bloomed instantly. Thus began a tale of romance in the desert, where the prince, who had come to hunt, became the hunted, struck by Cupid's arrow.
Shortly after ascending the throne in 1351, Firoz Shah proposed his beloved to accompany him to the royal capital. However, she declined, unwilling to abandon her birth place, elderly parents and the buffalo herd she cared for. Faced with a dilemma, the Sultan sought counsel from the Sufi saint. Ultimately, it was decided that the Sultan would build a palace for his beloved right at her place of residence.
While constructing the magnificent Gujari Mahal for his beloved, Firoz also built a new city around it. While some assert that Firoz married his beloved and made her his queen, others are of the opinion that their love was never formalized through marriage.
Returning to our topic, chroniclers have documented Firoz Shah's two marriages. His first marriage was with a girl from the Tank caste of the Rajputs, which has a romantic background. The second marriage of Firoz took place after his accession, and his second wife was a daughter of Sultan Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah.
The Mirat-i-Sikandari mentions a narrative of Firoz Shah's marriage with a girl of the Tank tribe.
One day, during a hunting excursion, prince Firoz found himself separated from his attendants while chasing a deer. As dusk approached, he sought shelter for the night. Eventually, he spotted a village in the town of Thanesar and rode his horse towards it.
A gathering of landlords had assembled outside the village, and Firoz Shah, after dismounting his horse, joined them. He sought help from a villager to unlace his hunting boots. This individual possessed extensive knowledge in the fields of physiognomy and palmistry. Upon glancing at the sole of the prince's foot, he swiftly discerned the unmistakable marks of royalty. He informed his companions that the stranger before them was either a king or destined to become one.
The chief men of that village were two brothers, Sadhu and Saharan, belonging to the Tank family. Taking the opportunity, the brothers extended a kind invitation to the prince, urging him to spend the night at their residence. The prince, Firoz, graciously accepted their proposal.
The wife of Sadhu wisely cautioned against blindly trusting others based solely on their outward appearance of dignity. She suggested entertaining the guest with wine, as it has the ability to unveil people's true qualities. As Sadhu and Saharan delighted Firoz with a splendid feast, their enchanting young sister attended to him, serving wine.
Under the influence of the wine, Firoz playfully engaged with the young woman. Sadhu's wife agreed to the union, but on the condition that Firoz openly disclose his true self. Firoz thereupon revealed his identity. Upon learning this, Sadhu and Saharan readily consented to the marriage.
The following morning, Firoz departed for the capital with his newlywed bride, accompanied by the brothers Sadhu and Saharan in his retinue. Shortly after, the brothers embraced Islam. On his accession to the throne, Sultan Firoz Shah honored Saharan with the title of Wajih-ul-Mulk. The subsequent part of Mirat-i-Sikandari explores the establishment of the Gujarat Sultanate, known as Muzaffar Shahi dynasty.
The Gujari Mahal is an impressive structure situated on a massive rectangular platform, constructed using rubble and mortar. Its features suggest that it may have originally been located alongside a reservoir. The platform has two square projections resembling towers on its eastern side. A water channel with its own storage tank runs through the platform.
The Gujari Mahal consists of a baradari and a pavilion, which can be accessed via a flight of steps. The baradari, a square building, has 12 arched entrances, three on each side. Most entrances are adorned with stone door frames, except for one.
Below the building, there are three underground chambers, which can be reached through two staircases that extend from the walls of the Baradari. Two of these chambers serve as simple rooms, while the central one appears to have functioned as a bath, as it resembles a tank.
Twelve stone pilasters, embedded in standing pillars, divide the inner span of the roof into nine bays, supporting a magnificent hemispherical dome. These columns are made from materials of ancient temples. They feature fluting of the Hellenistic style and are decorated with carvings of pots and foliage on their capitals.
Adjacent to the main pavilion, on the platform's northern side, stands a rectangular building housing two chambers. Some experts argue that the smaller chamber served as a private mosque, while others contend that they were auxiliary rooms for the main building, devoid of any specific religious function.
There are also nine graves on the platform, seven of which are sarcophagi, two of them with brick shrines. These graves, dating back to a much later period, likely the 17th or 18th century, appear to have no connection to the original purpose of the structure.
The Gujari Mahal seems to have been built as a serene retreat, away from the complex of Firoz Shah Palace, enjoying views over the gardens around, and cooled by the water flowing through the core of the platform.