Unveiling the Enigmatic Hastsal Minar: A Hidden Gem of West Delhi’s Heritage

Unveiling the Enigmatic Hastsal Minar: A Hidden Gem of West Delhi’s Heritage

Strolling along the meandering lanes of Hastsal village in West Delhi’s Uttam Nagar, it is easy to miss a medieval tower that stands between the houses in the densely populated locality. Despite its Grade A heritage status, the minar remains shrouded in mystery, with its origins sparking local legends and scholarly debate.

Discovery and Description

  • The minar, constructed in 1634 during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, stands at a height of 17 meters (five storeys) on a square platform, boasting an octagonal body.
  • Although hidden behind a small locked iron gate, it is often overlooked by passersby amidst the closely packed houses of Hastsal.

Local Legends and Historical Accounts

  • Prithviraj Chauhan’s Elephant House: Some locals believe the minar was part of a larger structure housing elephants belonging to Prithviraj Chauhan, attributing the village’s name “Hastsal” to this.
  • Pandavas’ Connection: Another legend suggests the Pandavas also kept their elephants here.
  • Mughal Attribution: Historical sources like Zafar Hasan’s List of Muhammadan and Hindu Monuments attribute the construction to Emperor Shah Jahan, who likely used it as a hunting palace.

Architectural Significance

  • The minar’s design, with domed arches and red Lakhori bricks, reflects typical Mughal architecture.
  • Its Grade A status, awarded in 2018, recognizes its regional importance and architectural merit.

Speculations and Scholarly Insights

  • Chhatri Roof: Scholars suggest the minar might have had a chhatri or canopy-like roof in the past, possibly used as a resting place or for hunting activities.
  • Tunnel Connection: Local oral history mentions a tunnel connecting the minar to a nearby hunting palace, hinting at its multifunctional use.
  • Elephant Tusks and Trophies: Similar minars were often adorned with elephant tusks or hunting trophies, a tradition possibly inherited from Sassanids of Iran.

Comparative Studies and Odd Uses

  • Scholars draw parallels with other minars, such as the Hiran Minar in Fatehpur Sikri, which served as mileposts and hunting towers.
  • Comparative studies, like Péter T Nagy’s paper on Budapest’s minar, highlight the Mughals’ unconventional use of such structures for commemorating events like the demise of a pet antelope.

Present-Day Status

  • Despite its historical significance, the Hastsal Minar remains relatively unknown even to locals, sparking ongoing debates and investigations into its origins.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) with Answers:

  1. Who is believed to have constructed the Hastsal Minar?
    • A) Prithviraj Chauhan
    • B) Pandavas
    • C) Emperor Shah Jahan
    • D) Jahangir
    • Answer: C) Emperor Shah Jahan
  2. What architectural style does the Hastsal Minar reflect?
    • A) Gothic
    • B) Victorian
    • C) Mughal
    • D) Baroque
    • Answer: C) Mughal
  3. What does the Grade A status awarded to the Hastsal Minar signify?
    • A) National Importance
    • B) International Recognition
    • C) Regional Importance and Architectural Merit
    • D) Historical Preservation
    • Answer: C) Regional Importance and Architectural Merit
  4. What purpose might the chhatri on top of the minar have served?
    • A) Religious ceremonies
    • B) Resting place and hunting activities
    • C) Storage of artifacts
    • D) Gardening
    • Answer: B) Resting place and hunting activities
  5. Which historical figure is associated with an odd use of a minar, similar to the Hastsal Minar?
    • A) Akbar
    • B) Aurangzeb
    • C) Jahangir
    • D) Babur
    • Answer: C) Jahangir