A walk in the Mehrauli Ruins

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Mehrauli archaeological park is littered with monuments from almost all phases of Delhi’s history, and it represents 1000 years of continuous occupation starting from Lal Kot  built by Tomar Rajputs in 1060 AD, upto British Raj.

Balban’s Tomb:

Balban’s tomb is credited with the fist one to achieve Roman Arch and Dome design in Indian architecture , possibly through teaching the Hindu planners well-versed in trapezium shaped temple designs, by skilled Central Asian architects and planners

Ghiyasuddin Balban, son-in-law of Iltutmish,  is credited as the first administrator to have successfully repulsed the Mongols by raising military outposts as the first line of his defense. His son “Khan Shahid” whom he lost in a battle against the Mongols, broke the King down emotionally so much that he died few months afterwards & the tomb stands as a testimony to the father-son story from the ancient Slave Dynasty. Setting of a network of spies throughout his Kingdom, he ruled with an iron hand from 1266 to 1286 & probably the only noteworthy successor to Iltutmish in the Slave Dynasty.

Setting of a network of spies and informants throughout his Kingdom, he ruled with an iron hand from 1266 to 1286 & probably the only noteworthy successor to Iltutmish in the Slave Dynasty.Ruthless to his contemporary kings, he used to lead military expeditions to annex other states and at the end, leave devastated settlements full of heaps of dead bodies and cut off limbs.

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Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb:

The tomb and mosque of Jamali & Kamali is dedicated to Jamali ( means lovable),  pen name of a Sufi saint and poet of late Lodi & Early Mughal periods. Jamali, travelled far and wide in Central Asia, was popular with Sikander Lodi , and subsequently in Babur and Humayun’s court at the beginning of the Mughal Empire.

The mosque with intricate architecture of Hindu-Islamic fusion is a fitting tribute to a building for one of the most tolerant of Sufi saints. Here sleeps Jamali with his companion Kamali, though it is only a matter of speculation who really Kamali was, but somehow was so important to him, that he found the final resting place along side with the saint.. ..under the blanket of a riot of colours; complete with poems written by Jamali.

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Metcalfe’s Dilkush:

Towards the end of the Mughal period, Sir Thomas Metcalfe, the East India Company’s Delhi Agent at the Imerial Mughal Court, and who was basically controlling the day-to-day affairs in the face of the crumbling empire of Zafar, bought the entire Mehrauli area and converted Quli Khan’s tomb as his weekend retreat. Quli Khan and Adham Khan were sons of Maham Anga, Akbar’s foster-mother or wet-nurse; who used to take care of Akbar during Humayun’s exile.

Hate him or love him, you can not discard Metcalfe, who did an effort for renovating and conservating Quli Khan’s tomb into his pleasure retreat and called it ” Dilkush” or happy-heart.

One of the landscaping efforts by Metcalfe was to build Chattris, Stepped Pyramids, Boat houses etc. Metcalfe’s boat house once stood on the edge of an artificial lake where he could be taking pleasure boat rides and a carriageway ran over the water canal leading to his Dilkush.

The former dining hall of his Dilkush is said to be on the very top of Quli Khan’s sarcophagus. He was so proud of that he had invited his daughters to come down and spend some time in India at his beautiful guest house

Thomas Metcalfe, an avid lover of everything Indian.. particularly heritage ruins, died few years before the 1857 uprising – possibly by poisoning by Zafar’s favourite wide Zeenat.

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Rajan Ki Baoli:

Rajon Ki Baoli, or the Masons’ stepwell is a Lodi Era Baoli, which  not only served as a place for bathing in the water starched Mehrauli, normally it was a place for socializing in the cool ambiance with large staircase and ample chambers for people to relax

Peeping into the well of the Baoli, one can see under ground well connected to the Baoli.

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Bar Khamba and Mosque:

The 12 pillared tomb ( Bar Khamba) is another unique example of how square planned structure is designed to taper into a rotund top, using trabeate arch.

Built by Sikandar Lodi, the mosque designed with stucco medallions on its wall, intricate mihrabs, and ample demonstration that Roman arch and dome has now been mastered by the natives.

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This walk was led by Kanika Singh of Delhi Heritage Walks.

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