Alaudin Khilji has become a household name, thanks to the swirling row over ‘Padmavati’, but not many know that Delhi Sultanate’s most powerful ruler lies buried in the Qutub complex. Ironically, the tomb which is located in the same complex as the Qutub Minar, a popular tourist spot, is often overshadowed by the grandeur of the world’s tallest brick minaret built by his ancestors. Historian and writer R V Smith argues that the popular contention that Khilji was a womaniser is untrue, and asserts that he was the one who “saved Hindustan from the Mongols”. “Had he not been there, the shape of Hindustan would have been different, in terms of geographical and racial compositions,” he told PTI Bhasha.
He clarified that Khilji invaded Chittor, but only to expand his kingdom like any other ruler. “It was not done for Rani Padmini,” he said. According to Smith, Khilji defeated Rajput king Ratan Singh, conquered his territory, and then asked to see the queen, about whose beauty he had heard. Rakesh Batabyal, a professor of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said there is not much left for historians to say on the ‘Padmavati’ issue, as it has now become a debate on freedom of expression, creativity and a political discourse. “History is a product of knowledge but today, forces have emerged in the country who do not recognise history.
“Ignorance levels are so high that period films are now being considered history,” the professor said. A careful tour of the complex reveals that the tomb is located within a madrasa built by Khilji as a college for education on Islamic scriptures and theology. However, even the security guards at the complex seem to be unaware of this significant name in history. “Is he the same Khilji, who is being talked about in the film ‘Padmavati’?” asks one of them.