During the second decade rule of Sultan Muhammad Shah Tughlaq, the economic conditions of the Delhi Sultanate was in distress due to very high expenses incurred on the war campaign inSouth India (Deccan) and also due to the Sultan establishing his southern capital at Daulatabad. Both these acts necessitated increasing taxes to enhance the treasury coffers to meet large expenses. But people were dissatisfied and distressed with these developments. Some tribalgroups, such as the Chaghatai tribes, had rebelled, launched raids on many places in North India and even posed serious threats to Delhi, when the Sultan was on his south Indian campaign. In the period between 1334 and 1344, repeated droughts had caused famines that were further compounded by the Black Plague. These two natural calamities had added to the suffering of the people in the country. Urgent solutions had to be found to remedy the distress conditions. One of the viable options planned was of building the Satpula, the seven arches bridge or gate controlled weir/dam, to tap the water resources of the local nallah (stream) feeding the Yamuna river, which could be used to bring large areas of flat land in the vicinity under controlledirrigated agriculture to grow food crops to stem the famine conditions. This solution was also thought to provide the much needed defense to the walls of the newly built city of Jahanpanah.
It is locally believed that the waters stored by the weir had healing powers because the sufi saint Nasiru’d-Din Mahmud is reported to have used the waters of this reservoir for daily oblations before offering prayers at the Mosque
On both banks of the weir identical towers (defensive bastions, projecting on the south and north sides) of 5.97 m (20 ft)) diameter, but with octagonal shape chambers, are built, which once functioned as madrasa (Islamic school of learning). Hence, the Satpula is also known as “Madarsa”.
The second level sluice bays on both banks lead to arched corridors. The walls of the octagonal chambers have graceful decorations. The stream tapped by this weir, has been diverted now further east. The indication of the use of the sluices of the structure, either as a dam or for defense purposes, could be gauged from the platforms provided at the appropriate levels. Siltdeposition in the storage area of the reservoir side at the southern end is also seen now
Come, explore and fall in love the Beauties of Delhi (Dilli ki Ranaiya’n) and the World with me, Rana Safvi
I have a masters in medieval history from the prestigious Centre for Advanced Studies, Dept. of History, AMU. A firm believer in our Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb, I am passionate about gaining and sharing knowledge and these days I am doing it via the social media platform.