Mehrauli Archaeological ParkDelhi is said to have been ruled by over 80 rulers. It is believed that this historic city was blessed with around 1300 monuments. However, many of these got destroyed and ruined over time. Mehrauli Archaeological Park belongs to the league and consists of more than 100 historically significant monuments. The park is also an important ecological reserve for south Delhi and is located near the Qutub Minar.
The park consists of monuments like Balban's Tomb,Tomb of Khan Shahid, Rajaon Ki Baoli, Bastion of Lal Kot Fort, Gandhak Ki Baoli, Jamali Kamali Mosque, Jahaz Mahal, Bagichi Ki Masjid, Pavillion Tomb, ruined houses, structures, etc, to name a few.
A sneak peek into the History
Mehrauli is one of the seven ancient cities that make up Delhi. Presently, the area is in the South-west district of Delhi. It has served has a capital city of some important dynasties in the past. As a result, it is a treasure trove of historical architectural remains. It is the only area in Delhi known to have been continuously inhabited for around 1000 years. The first fortification of the city of Delhi, Lal Kot was founded by the Tomar Dynasty in the Mehrauli area. The area was never abandoned and numerous significant building, mosques, structures, etc came up during the rule of Lodis, Tughlaqs, Khiljis, Mughals and even the during the British period. The park is a vital asset for the city and efforts have been made to renovate the ancient structures.
Balban's Tomb is the first monument that one comes across in this park. It is the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-Din Balban, a ruler of the Mamluk/ Slave dynasty. It has a unique importance in the history of Indian architecture as the first true arch was built here. The first true dome was also built here, which collapsed overtime. The tomb is built in rubble masonry and is surrounded by the ruined structures of the late medieval period. The grave of Balban's son, Khan Shahid also lies in the vicinity. The tomb provides a spectacular view of the Qutub minar, which lies close to the park.
The Jamali Kamali Mosque is an impressive example of early Islamic architecture in India. Jamali was a pseudo name given to Shaikh Jamal Kamboh, who a known sufi saint of the times of pre-Mughal era. Kamali was an unknown person but both of them were buried adjacent to each other. Hence, both the Tomb as well as the mosque is named after them. This 16th century mosque is made up of red sandstone and has marble detailing. The courtyard has five arches, each of which is decorated beautifully. Jamali was a popular poet and the walls of the tomb are resplendent with inlaid colorful tiles, with his poems inscribed on it. The tomb is located next to the mosque and is square in shape, with a flat roof.
One of the most interesting facts about this archaeological park is that the monuments are located close to each other, presenting an admirable labyrinth of different historical periods in the minds of the visitors.
Rajaon Ki Baoli and Gandhak Ki Baoli are the two step wells that can be found here. Gandhak Ki Baoli is Delhi's oldest surviving Baoli and was built by Illtumish. Rajaon Ki Baoli is located at one end of the archaeological park. It is much bigger and beautiful in designing when it comes to comparison with the Gandhak. It was built by Daulat Khan, during the reign of Sikander Lodi, for the masons or rajmistries. This three storyed step well has colonnaded arcade and is decked out in plasterwork. According to some legends, Baolis were a favorite haunt of fairies. These two medieval era step wells are located at a walking distance from the Qutub Minar, but are lesser known among the tourists.
The Zafar Mahal is possibly the last monumental structure to be built by a Mughal ruler. The Mahal/ Palace was built by Akbar Shah II and the entrance gate to the mahal was renovated by Bahadur Shah Zafar II, who was the last ruler of the Mughal dynasty. Zafar was exiled by the British Army to Rangoon in 1857. The Palace is built in red sandstone and has three floors. The entrance was also known as the "Hathi Gate", mainly because it was so big as to allow decorated elephants to pass through. European as well as Mughal architectural trends invade the entire palace, which is now a ruined structure. Moti Masjid was built by Bahadur Shah Zafar I. This white marble mosque was the private mosque of the royal family. Zafar II used to visit his summer palace for hunting. He was also honored at this palace during the ecstatic Phool Walon Ki Sair festival.
One should not miss out the "Bhool Bhulaiya", a local name for the Tomb of Adham Khan, which it derives from the haunted stories associated with it. The tomb houses the grave of Adham Khan, a general in Mughal emperor Akbar's army. Adham Khan killed Ataga Khan, who was the Prime Minister of Akbar's army and a close friend cum guide of the emperor. Akbar ordered his army men to throw Adham Khan, multiple times from the balcony of the Agra Fort until he died. The grave of Adham Khan's mother and Akbar's wet nurse, Maham Anga was also placed here. The palace has also served as a police station, house during British rule.
The Jahaz Mahal was built during the Lodi dynasty to serve as a pleasure resort or inn. There are many stories debating about the purpose of its existence. According to one, it was built to provide accommodation to the pilgrims from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, etc, who came to Delhi. Another version is that it was built as a retreat for the royal family. The palace is now in partially ruined form and is located on the eastern side of the Hauz-i-Shamsi, a water tank built by Illtumish. Presently, the palace is the venue for the annual festival Phool Walo Ki Sair/ Sair-i-Gulfaroshan.
Quick Facts/ Guide -
Location: Opposite Qutub Minar metro station, Anuvrat Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi- 110030
How to Reach: Nearest metro station is Qutub Minar (Yellow Line). Also, Hazrat Nizamuddin is the nearest railway station from
Open: All days
Timings: Sunrise to sunset
Entry Fee: None
Approx. distance from the Indira Gandhi International Airport: 15 Kms