‘I’m going to Kotla Firoz Shah’— say these words to a Delhi-ite, and more often than not, his/her first impression would be that you are going to watch a cricket match at the stadium by that name. Yet, just behind the stadium lies the Kotla Firoz Shah monument complex, housing the ruins of the fifth city of Delhi. With numerous arches and pathways with steep steps, the ruins are surrounded by lush green lawns. Birds of prey are constantly gliding around the area, making for quite a dramatic setting. It is not surprising then, that people think this area is haunted. The ruins were almost deserted on a Sunday morning, but that is not always the case. Popular belief about the presence of djinns brings throngs of people to the complex on Thursdays. They carry offerings and bring their wishes/prayers written on a piece of paper, in the hope that the djinns would fulfill their desires.
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Doing a heritage walk in Lodi Gardens is quite different from most of DHW’s other trails. More often than not, the ruins we wish to explore are empty on a weekend, and seem to be part of a distant world. But Lodi Gardens at 7:30am on a Saturday is bustling. It’s not called ‘Jogger’s Paradise’ without reason— walkers, runners, and exercise groups of all ages were out and about.
It was 7:30am on a Sunday morning, and the sun was already beginning to shine. The usually bustling Delhi roads were empty, with many residents staying in to enjoy a lazy Sunday. Not everyone though. A group of history enthusiasts were braving the dusty Delhi heat, to explore the neighborhood of the Old Fort, or Purana Qila. We would be going to a number of historical sites, but not actually inside the fort. In fact, most people don’t even know of the existence of these sites. But of course, the fact that they are lesser known does not mean they aren’t rich with history. Our first stop was Khair-ul-Manazil, a mosque built by Maham Anga, the wet nurse of the Mughal king Akbar. The mosque’s name translates to ‘the best/most auspicious house,’ however it may not have held such positive connotations in the eyes of the King — we learnt that an attempt on Akbar’s life took place here. Initially, the main gates to the mosque were closed, so we all clambered through a smaller opening. As luck would have it, the security guard showed up just as we had all entered, and opened the main gate! Perhaps our method of entry was more memorable. Inside the massive courtyard, we could see the patches of intricate carvings on the arches…one can only imagine how grand the mosque must have looked when it was built.
These photographs were taken at the Mehrauli Village heritage walk, 3Aug14, by Tejinder Singh
For good or bad, Qutb Minar has over shadowed the rest of Mehrauli. I can give you names of several monuments which are completely neglected and in the danger of completely disappearing under modern city; it is high time for us to give due to these forgotten monuments. Mehrauli village is a unique place with ancient buildings, medieval tombs, mosques, sufi shrines, palaces and havelis, sarais, reservoirs, step wells and tanks, you name it and it has it all. Our heritage walk this Sunday, covered a little bit of this vast area. We started our trail with Yogmaya temple. (more…)