Mehrauli area of Delhi is one of those sites of the world that has a history of continuous habitation for almost a thousand years. One of the most famous monuments of India, the Qutb Minar (built in the early 13th century) is located in this area. But there are many other tombs, palaces, baolis (stepwell), shrines, mosques and other historical structures that are to be found there. Mehrauli Archaeological Park has trails developed around medieval monuments dating from the 13th to the 19th century. In other words, beginning from what is commonly referred to as the time of the Slave dynasty right up to the early colonial period.
Posts Tagged ‘Balban’s Tomb’
Many of us know that Delhi has the unfortunate title of one of the most polluted cities in the world. However, standing at the gate of Mehrauli Archaeological Park, an expansive 100-acre space, with greenery all around, it’s quite easy to forget about the pollution. To be sure, the park has many stories to tell; the Mehrauli area is the oldest continuously inhabited part of Delhi. From the 11th century Rajput cities of Lalkot, and Qila Rai Pithora, to monuments from Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal, and the British era— there is perhaps no other place in Delhi with such a diverse history. We started our exploration at Balban’s Tomb, the resting place of the Mamluk king who ruled Delhi in the 13th century. Interestingly, the only grave remaining in the tomb complex is not Balban’s, but that of his son, Khan Shahid. Khan Shahid was not known to be a religious figure, but people do pray in front of his grave, and the enclosure often smells of incense. An example of the past and present interacting— popular memory does not always follow historical accuracy.
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. (more…)
On the day of separation from you in helplessness and loneliness, nothing consoles us but the sorrow we feel for you.
O Jamali! Resort to the door of the friend, for our refuge is the door of the beloved.
These are lines by poet & traveller, Sheikh Fazlullah, who went by the pen name Jamali. And his name lives on today…the park where our heritage walk was organized is locally known as Jamali Kamali. Officially, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, very few know it by that name. The Mehrauli Archaeological Park is a minefield of archaeological remains! Everywhere the eye goes, there are remains of historic settlements, some almost devoured by vegetation. Close to the entrance is a clearing, beyond a gateway, which is a recently excavated archaeological site. I shared some of my surface finds with the group: a small clay toy shaped like a horse, bits & pieces of pottery! (more…)