One of the lesser known sites of Delhi, this 100 acres green land has 70 odd monuments scattered around. The reason why Mehrauli Archaeological Park fascinates history lovers is because of its wild, un-kept look interspersed with monuments dating back from the first fortified capital, Lal Kot up till British period. The first monument we covered on this heritage walk was built by one of the powerful ‘slave kings’, Sultan Balban. Balban’s tomb is considered the first building in India which used the technique of construction of true arches. The central chamber is empty & the adjacent chamber contains the burial of his son, Khan Shaheed.
From here we take a steep flight to stairs leading to a group of ruins dating from the later Mughal times. A narrow path from here leads to a fine mosque locally known as ‘Jamali Kamali’. The rectangular prayer hall with five openings has lotus decorations in white marble & red sandstone. The turret like design of either side of the central opening reminds us of the design of the famous Qutb Minar. The song ‘dhage thood lao” from the Bollywood movie ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ starring Abhishek Bachchan and Preity Zinta was shot in Mehrauli Archeological park especially in the tomb of Jamali Kamali and Rajon ki baoli as the backdrop.
We walked to the uphill to one of the follies of the Thomas Metcalfe, who Resident appointed by English East India Company at the Mughal court. Metcalfe has purchased this land & converted it into a pleasure retreat, naming it ‘Dilkusha’ or delighter of the heart. The estate included a boathouse, a bridge over water, extensive landscaped gardens, a few follies & a tomb converted into Metcalfe’s residence! Mohd Quli Khan was a nobleman under Akbar whose tomb was purchased by Metcalfe from the former’s descendants & modified into a house. The area where Dilkusha stands was part of Lal Kot & subsequently Qila Rai Pithora, the first 2 cities of Delhi.
From here we traced our way to another part of Mehrauli Archaeological Park, one which leads to the Mehrauli Village. There are two baolis (step wells) close by & our walking tour covered one of them: Rajon ki Baoli or mason’s step well. According to the inscription on the mosque close to the step well, the tomb was built by Daulat Khan in 1506 during the reign of Sikandar Lodi.
It was a great pleasure to organise this heritage walk & walk around these monuments. Thank you all for joining in.