Dungeons, Djinns and Devotion: The Mystery of Feroz Shah Kotla
Camera: Chandni Sharma
Video Editor: Ashish MacCune
Across the famous Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi – where Anil Kumble took 10 wickets in an innings and Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar scored many memorable centuries – lies the home of the other kind.
The Feroz Shah Kotla fort is the home of Djinns, and it is here that people who believe in the supernatural come to seek solutions to their problems, sharing their deepest, darkest, most private secrets. It is also the place where exorcism is performed on those who are believed to be under the spell of evil spirits, and many swear it has helped them personally.
According to Islam, humans were created from clay, while angels were created from light. The Djinns, on the other hand, were created from smokeless fire. Iblis was a Djinn who refused to kneel down before God, and was cast out of heaven as punishment. He is known as the the devil, or shaitan.
The devout write letters stating their problem, and leave it behind for supernatural beings, with the belief that their troubles would be taken care of.
Djinns are believed to have the power to control and manipulate humans. Myth has it that they live for thousand of years and can bear a family too, just like humans.
It is also believed that Djinns have a soft corner for women with long, luscious hair. The devout also claim that Djinns get attracted to beautiful women and try to possess them.
Feroz Shah Tughlaq, after ascending the throne from his uncle, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, built the Feroz Shah Kotla fort in 1354 AD. In the same year, he also founded the city of Ferozabad. The city and the fort were established on the banks of the Yamuna.
Feroz Shah built the fort because there was problem in water supply in his previous capital, Tughlaqabad.
It Started in 1977...
Asif Khan Dehlvi, founder of Delhi Karavan, says people started flocking the Feroz Shah Kotla fort "only in 1977, few months after the Emergency.” But the Djinns, he says, have been living here since at least 400 years.
During Emergency, a saint named Laddu Shah started living in Feroz Shah Kotla, and told his followers that there are certain energies in form of Djinns at the monument and they fulfill people's wishes, says Dehlvi.
However, the most famous Djinn here is the Laat Wale Baba, the chief of the Kotla Djinns. He is believed to be living in the Minar-e-Zareen, a 13.1-metre polished sandstone pillar. The pillar is surrounded by a railing and people push themselves against it believing that their wishes would be heard if they touch it.
This 14th century structure has stood the test of time. And people still hold on to their beliefs, undeterred.
As William Dalrymple writes in his book City of Djinns, “When a dust storm blows it means the djinns are going to celebrate a marriage…”
(The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an 8-month-old who was raped in Delhi on 28 January 2018. The baby girl, who we will refer to as 'Chhutki', was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin when her parents were away. She has been discharged from AIIMS hospital after undergoing three surgeries, but needs more medical treatment in order to heal completely. Her parents hail from a low-income group and have stopped going to work so that they can take care of the baby. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate)