Faridabad –  More than an Industrial Centre

In the tradition of towns and cities which hide an interesting medieval past behind their modern glitz, Faridabad stands as a stark example. To the modern conscience, Faridabad is the industrial hub of Haryana with an astounding two thousand plus factories which contribute to the economy of the state of Haryana generating sizeable employment. It is also home to a lot of corporates as well thus developing a sizeable eco system of housing societies, high end schools, hospitals, malls etc. However, unknown to most, there are ancient and medieval monuments spread across the breadth of the city hiding in plain sight. The spread consists of an eighth century kund , a tenth century dam, medieval mosques, temples, distance markers and a bridge. In fact Faridabad is home to some of the oldest surviving man- made structures of the Delhi NCR region.

The Origin of the Name

The name Faridabad comes from the founder of the old city , Sheikh Farid who was the treasurer of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Sheikh Farid, whose full name was Sheikh Fariduddin Ibne Syed Ahmed Bukhari, was a loyal servant to the emperor, and was instrumental in suppressing the rebellion of Prince Khusrau, son of Jahangir, post Emperor Akbar’s death. In lieu of this victory, he was honoured with the title of Murtaza Khan. The Sheikh also served as Governor of Punjab and Gujarat during Jahangir’s reign and died in 1615 AD. He lies today in the medieval village of Begumpur in Malviya Nagar, New Delhi where he built a sarai which survives to this day.

Sheikh Farid laid the foundation of the city of Faridabad (known as Old Faridabad today) to protect the imperial Delhi- Agra highway which passed through this route. However the region around Faridabad has a much greater antiquity going back to Mahabharata era. It was also intimately connected to shaping the Delhi of 11th Century. Lets first discuss that.

The Mahabharata Connection

The region of Delhi NCR is rich with Mahabharata legends with both Delhi ( Indraprastha/Indrapat) and Gurugram ( Guru Dronacharya) have their own stories associated with it. On a similar vein, Talpat or Tiliprashta in Faridabad district is believed to be one of the five pats demanded by Pandavas as a part of their share of the kingdom. The village stands atop a 30 metre high mound and archaeological evidence has suggested considerable antiquity.

The region was under the influence of Sungas, Kushanas, Guptas, Harsha and eventually Gurjara Pratiharas till 7th Century AD. However, while ample archaeological evidence in form of statues and art pieces have been discovered as a proof to it, unfortunately no built heritage of those eras has been left behind.

The Tomar Rajputs

The Tomars were Rajputs who started as generals of ruling dynasty of Pratiharas, then became governors of the region and eventually rulers when the Pratiharas era declined. They are regarded as founders of Delhi ( Dhillika then) which was their capital and their region encompassed the Haryana country. Evidence to the same is found in works of Abul Fazl as well bardic traditions like the records of 17th Century Gwalior Bhat Kharag Rai (Bhats were traditional genealogists of India). The Tomars were defeated and displaced by Chauhans who were eventually defeated by the Turks marking a new age in history of India.

As for Tomars and Faridabad region, the village of Anangpur (or Anekpur or Arangpur) still preserves remnants of that age. Anangpur (named either after Anangpala Tomar I or Anangpala Tomar II) is an important prehistoric site with associations to Paleolithic era. There exists an ancient kund/tank 2 kms south of it and a medieval dam within it

Suraj Kund

This is a 10th Century stepped water tank built by Surajpal Tomar which resembles a massive Roman Amphitheatre. It is believed that Surajpal was a Sun God worshipper and he got this tank built along with a sun temple near it. The tank survives thankfully but the place where temple would have existed has only massive blocks of stones left.

The tank was built in shape of rising sun with an eastward arc. Firuz Shah Tughlaq got repairs done in the steps and reservoir during his reign.

Anangpur Dam

This stone masonry dam, totally orphaned by neglect, was built in 11th Century and still has its drainage channels preserved which were used to drain excess water and maintain the water level. The purpose here was to block upstream rainwater for irrigation purposes.

The 50m wide and 7m high dam is now used by riders to do bike stunts and is surrounded on all sides by newly built by marriage halls

During the age of Delhi Sultanate this region witnessed disturbances due to rebellious Mewatis and the efforts to Sultanate to put them down especially Balban.

It was only with the advent of Babur and Mughal age did the Mewati influence waned. The present district of Faridabad was distributed between Delhi and Agra subahs during the age of Akbar.

Interestingly almost all the monuments of medieval age that exist in Faridabad today belong to the reign of Jahangir

 The Jahangir Era

Old Faridabad

When Sheikh Farid laid the foundation of Faridabad, he built here a fort, mosque, tank, baoli and an eidgah. The mosque, tank and eidgah still stand today while the baoli was filled up to make way for government quarters. He invited Syeds from Bukhara, Brahmins from Kannauj and Khatris from Punjab to populate his town. While the demographics of the town changed post partition, we still find localities in the old town with names like Sayad Wara, Khatri Wara and Sheikh Wara.

 Shahi Jami Masjid

The foundation of the Jami Masjid was laid by Sheikh Farid in 1605 AD . This is a glorious three arched mosque with a pylon (high central arched gateway) in centre, bulbous dome with inverted lotus finial, kanguras ( merlons) at the parapet, and quranic medallions in spandrel of arches.

The kutba of the mosque thankfully still survives and mentions that : During the reign of Emperor Jahangir, who is pious, just  and liberal; Murtaza Khan ( Sheikh Farid), who is honoured, powerful, generous and liberal, laid the foundation of this mosque in Hijri 1014 ( or 1605 AD).

The mosque has been recently painted with minarets added to it. There is also a domed tomb in the premises which dates to 200 years post the foundation of mosque. The cenotaph in here is of an unknown person but is deeply revered by the people around.

Barahi Mata Mandir

Barahi ( or Varahi) Mata is one of the Mother Goddess of Hindu religion who is the feminine energy of Varaha – the boar avatar of god Vishnu. The Barahi Mata Mandir of old Faridabad is of considerable antiquity as is confirmed by its pyramidal domes.

An annual Barahi Mata ka mela is held here in the months of April to May

Barahi Talab

The Barahi tank (or talab as called by locals) exists adjacent to the Barahi Mata Mandir and gets its name ffrom it. It was built by Sheikh Farid for the benefit of the local populace.        

The tank is usually dry in hot summers while filled with water during the rest of the year. There are remnants of Lahori brick structures and cusped arches near the steps of the tank but the rest of the complex is modern. The renovation at a later date is confirmed by District Gazetteer of Faridabad.

Nawab Sahib ki Masjid

This three arched mosque with graceful, bulbous domes was built during the age of Nawab Mutalabi in Later Mughal era in the locality of Sayed Wara. It is difficult to find any text mentioning the Nawab and his lineage. All we know is that the Nawab’s descendants migrated to Pakistan during partition and the mosque was abandoned. Currently a temple functions in the premises.

Shiv Mandir, Barahi Talab

This temple lies near the medieval tank and most of its structure is modern. The antiquity is confirmed by the bulbous dome with lotus finial and cusped arches inside. There are also remants of lahori brick strcutures in the temple premises. This was probably built during later Mughal age.


The Eidgah was built by Sheikh Farid for the annual offering of Namaz on occasion of Eid in the forested area nearby. This was a simple wall mosque in semi ruins not so long ago. However today it is a full-fledged modern mosque with daily namaz being offered. The mosque is situated in Baba Nagar

Faridabad Kos Minars

Kos Minars were medieval milestones placed on every Kos ( each Kos = 3.22 km) all along the Grand Trunk Road by Akbar and Jahangir. They were almost 20 feet in height and built of rubble masonry/bricks covered with lime plaster. They had an octagonal base which tapered at the top finishing as a circle . There were inns and wells built around them as well as horses and riders placed for quick delivery of royal messages. Hence they were a Hub of activity on travel routes

Since Faridabad lied on the imperial route of Delhi to Agra, it has had 3 Kos Minars in the city area , 2 of which still exist. These Kos Minars were most probably built in era of Jahangir

Kos Minar 1

This one can be found near Sarai Metro Station and stands in a residential colony in a park. The locals unaware of the value of these heritage structures call it a half broken Qutub Minar.

Kos Minar 2

This one exists on the side of the road in Sector 29, Faridabad hidden by roadside trees and protected by an iron railing

Kos Minar 3

The one existed in Mujesor area but as Subhash Parihar, the author of the seminal book on monuments of Agra- Lahore highway –Land Transport in Mughal India: Agra-Lahore Mughal Highway and Its Architecture , confirms this one disappeared due to rapid encroachment and industrialization in Faridabad

There are other kos minars which exist in the Faridabad district in Palwal and Hodal towns as well

Khwaja Sarai Bridge

Jahangir was not a prolific builder of tombs and mosques like his ancestors or descendants . However his memoir mentions that he ordered the construction of bridges, big and small, across his empire so that travellers facing rivers can cross them without obstruction

Three of the bridges of his time still exist in Delhi NCR. While 2 of them lie in Delhi – Barapulla and Salimgarh Fort, the third one lies in Khwaja Sarai village in Faridabad

The bridge today stands over a naala called budhiya wala naala. And the locals call the bridge ‘budhia wala pul’

The bridge has been built in stone and has 3 piers with the arch in central pier strengthened by buttresses. There were 4 mini towers /pylons where the buttresses were. But only 2 survive today

Thankfully the bridge has been preserved by ASI and can be only used by those on foot now

With the death of Aurangzeb and decline of Mughal age, the region witnessed conflicts between Jats, the French, Marathas and British. In 1803, British came to the fore and eventually Gurgaon district was created of whom Faridabad was a part. In 1858, the region moved to Punjab. Unfortunately no monument of colonial era exists today in Faridabad city.

Lastly, it is imperative to be aware and visit these hidden spots so they become a part of mainstream conscience and efforts are made to save the orphaned ones

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