Today Pir Ghaib is the name of a small, damaged, double-storeyed monument, standing on Delhi’s ridge. . This was once a splendid hunting lodge built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in AD 1354 on the highest point of the Ridge, to the northwest of the city of Firozabad. It covered a large area and included the present Chouburji Mosque and Ashoka’s broken pillar. The remains that stand there today were part of the lodge.
Timur attacked Delhi shortly after the death of Firoz Shah Tughlaq and destroyed this area. His historian Yazdi, as was typical of the flattery of court chroniclers, says that Firoz Shah had named it Jahan Numa because it was written in its destiny that a world conqueror like Timur would bless it with his presence.
Many nobles built their mansions near it once the Sultan started frequenting it.
Sir George Everest used it as a survey station while making his baseline measurements for the Great Trigonometrical Survey, and it was called an observatory. During the Uprising of 1857, it was in the thick of battle as the British were encamped near it.
Initially, the Indian sepoys controlled the Ridge, but they lost it in the battle of Badli ki Sarai in June, giving the British troops a strategic advantage over the walled city during the siege of Delhi. The British troops used Pir Ghaib as an outpost and stationed their heavy battery here.
The change of name from Kushk-e Shikar to Observatory was due to Sir George Everest, but the presentday Pir Ghaib is very interesting. The monument itself is now a double-storeyed building built of rubble masonry and has steep stairs leading right up to its roof.
On the second floor are two rooms. These rooms have arched openings towards the east and mehrabs in the western wall. A few incised plaster medallions containing names of Allah remain over the mehrabs. Perhaps this area was used as a mosque.
This room is said to have been the chillahgah or spiritual retreat of a saint who disappeared mysteriously. This cenotaph was made in his memory and locals gather on Thursday to offer flowers and burn incense sticks. When I went here, I saw oil stains of the lamps. The cenotaph is 6.8 feet x 3 feet and 1.7 feet high, and to the left of this grave are mehrabs of a mosque