Delhi’s architectural vestiges, the remains of its seven original cities, represent its complex and convoluted history. The spectacular rise of empires and the disasters and conflicts that led to their fall, writ large on every crumbling stone..
Mehrauli is the second of the seven cities, built around 1206AD by Qutub ud din Aibak, a former slave and general of Mohammed Ghori, who set up the first Sultanate of Delhi. Over a hundred haunting relics ranging in antiquity from the 11CE foundations of the Hindu fort that existed at the site before the Ghori invasion of 1192, to a few structures from the Raj era some seven centuries later, are now encompassed in a 200 acre archaeological park of the same name.
Tourist interest rarely strays beyond the adjacent Qutub Minar complex (a UNESCO heritage minaret, also constructed by the founder of the Slave dynasty), making for a tranquil and atmospheric visit.
Come see for yourself……….
Several tour companies conduct three to four hour long walks through the park, early morning or late evening. We got a private car and driver to drive us as close to each site as possible, thus saving a bit of time and effort, but possibly losing out on a lot of atmosphere. The Slave Dynasty water tank: Hauz i Shamsi, the stunning 15th century Jahaz Mahal and the Bakhtiar Kaki Dargah near the village outside the park, we saved for a future visit. Hopefully soon.
Happy travels, no matter where life takes you.
92 thoughts on “The Ruins Of Mehrauli”
Such beauty! I have always seen them from far, but never ventured into them…I feel so bad about it now. Hopefully on my next visit to Delhi…
You should. The archaeological park is well worth the effort. Sept/Oct when the Phoolwalon ki Sair festival takes place in Mehrauli might be a great time to visit.
Thanks for the input madhu! I will try that!
My grand mother used to talked a lot about Mehrauli, I am very keen to see all these magnificent places .
Hope soon I will visit India..
Fantastic, Madhu…. I would love to see this place for myself, who knows maybe one day
I do hope so Sue. You would love it, with your fondness for decay! 🙂
I’m sure I would! 🙂
Thank you very much Bijit 🙂
absolutely stunning. mehrauli is a corner in delhi i hvnt explored as yet…the post makes me realise!
Thanks Amit. Most of us put off playing tourist at home for that opportune moment that never seems to materialise….I am as guilty of neglecting monuments around Chennai 🙂
This place must have been magnificent in its heyday Madhu.
I am sure it was Colline, and each city that followed, grander still!
Good write up as well photos!
Thanks for the visual travelogue along with the commentary.
Thank you for reading Sally. Have a great week ahead.
I really want to visit India! Beautiful photos as always 🙂
I hope you do and soon Jodi. Thank you, happy to see you here 🙂
Surreal. Your images are, as always, amazing. Of course, I have trouble getting past your header image and all the detail there!!!
The header to this post or the main background image? That is from Calcutta. Strangely nothing else seemed ‘right’! 🙂 Thank you very much Gary!
Good thing there is UNESCO to watch over places like this, otherwise, many heritage places will be lost to the world. Thanks for sharing, Madhu. 🙂
This park isn’t a UNESCO site as yet Imelda. Only the Qutub Minar next door has been given heritage status so far, and hence its popularity. Or perhaps the reverse is true! The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage is maintaining this park along with the Delhi tourism board.
Another super Madhu post! I’ve heard of Qutub Minar and wish I’d visited now I see your photos 🙂
Thank you very much Gilly! The Qutub Minar complex and this park are two different entities although they are both in Mehrauli.
…”atmospheric visit” indeed, Madhu and the tranquility is also apparent. What an amazing ceiling!
Happy full moon and weekend! 🙂
There was not another soul in sight while we were there late afternoon Marina…can’t get more ‘off the beaten path’ than that! Appreciate your comment and share as always 🙂
Thank you Chillbrook! 🙂
Amazing – excellent captured… 🙂
Not a single bad word about tourist guides – but I prefare if possible “non-uniformed” local people for the advises – gives the best result I believe – okay we miss some of the general tourist infos – but get a lot of non-written facts… 😀
Very interesting post… 🙂
Thanks Drake. Me too. Guides are indeed a bit of a toss up. Some have added immensely to our enjoyment of places. A few have been very disappointing. Partly because I research my destinations to death before I arrive 🙂 I find organised walks a lot more enjoyable these days.
Madhu, Is this an entrance to a Baori?
This is a 200 acre park full of ruins Tony. There is just that one Baoli next to Adam Khan’s tomb that I featured in a post named ‘Vanishing Wells’. Link below.
India is full of wonders.
It is! Not always looked after sadly. Surprised this has been taken up for conservation even without pressure from UNESCO!
The ceiling inside the Jamali Kamali tomb is particularly breathtaking! Judging from your photos, the motifs look different from the ones found in Central Asia or Iran, I suppose. It is true that interesting places often lie a few meters away from where everyone goes as I also experienced visiting such place in Central Java where a temple compound sat peacefully 1 km away from another temple compound flocked with tourists. Beautiful captures, Madhu, as always!
That is indeed a unique ceiling Bama, especially so in the humble tomb of a saint! Didn’t see even one other like it in all the tombs we visited, and we saw many! Yes it always pays to get away from the heavily touristed paths, although those are usually the grandest sites 🙂
Stunning architecture, woodwork and photos. Beautiful, Madhu.
Thank you Judy. Decay holds a strange appeal! 🙂
Amazing, Madhu – and thank you for the snippet of history 🙂
Most welcome Eric. Thank you for reading 🙂
I need to someday come back and spend a
Month or so seeing India. Such a huge country with so much to see!
Hope you do Nicole. This was in Delhi though, right next to the Qutub Minar. Did you visit that at least?
No I didn’t visit sadly. Every time I’ve been there it has been brief so I will have to put this on my list to do when I make it back someday. 🙂
This place looks magical to me!
It is Frank. The air is heavy with the weight of all that history!
Beautiful pictures and the write-up a nice revision. Must confess I did go beyond the Qutub Minar but your information is very enriching. Thanks Madhu.
Thank you Dilip. I could relate to Indian history much better in Delhi! 🙂
Delhi is a textbook on history.
It certainly is Ian! Far more than any other city, and especially compared to those in the South.
I loved to visit the shops where they made all kind of things from wood. Watching the skill and precision of those workers squatting on the ground and working at speed was entertaining. One of my most prized possessions is the finely carved room divider from Old Delhi. I’ve faithfully nurtured my treasured office carpet from Delhi too, and it’s in excellent condition.
That is so much history out there and that makes me angry sometimes is we run to foreign shores including me to see all this when we have so much to discover in our own great nation 🙂
Nothing to get angry about I would think. One doesn’t make the other less interesting or beautiful.
Wonderful treasure of relics! Wonderful response to the challenge!
Thanks Connie! Glad you think so 🙂
I didn’t know this place existed, as I only went to Qutab Minar. 😦 Thanks for the heads up though with this great post, if I ever go back I will check it out!
You should. And the remains of four more cities that I haven’t visited myself!!! 🙂
That ceiling is so beautiful, Madhu.
I think India ‘wrote the book’ on relics 🙂
I think so too, along with Greece and Turkey! 🙂 That ceiling was most unexpected inside the tomb of a saint Jo!
Jo is right. Stunning place, Madhu, beautifully framed photos!
Thank you Paula. Happy you like them.
What colours and rich architectural detail, Madhu! The park looks beautiful and so utterly devoid of people. I’m fascinated by the life story of Qutub ud din Aibak; it’s amazing to think that a slave could rise to become a general and then the sultan of a new dynasty.
Funny how the ruins are interspersed with relics from the days of the British Raj. I’m not sure why Sir Thomas Metcalfe decided to appropriate someone’s tomb as his summer residence – it seems very odd through modern eyes.
I think they were born with amazing destinies James!! 🙂 It was the norm with Central Asian dynasties, to leave behind a ‘slave’ general to look after conquered provinces. This man declared himself ‘Sultan’ after Ghori’s death. He wasn’t the most benevolent of rulers and is certainly not remembered fondly. But his architectural contributions were impressive.
Metcalfe added layers to the tomb, and had his residence on the first floor….now stripped by INTACH. The main tomb chamber was left untouched. It is believed he wanted to keep a close watch on the last Moghul, Bahadur Shah Zafar, who lived in the Jahaz Mahal in Mehrauli. Still weird though!! 🙂
Beautiful photo tour Madhu. Great to clear the cobwebs of distant childhood memories. The ceiling of the Jamali Kamali tomb is gorgeous!
Happy to have nudged fond memories Kan. Thanks for coming along 🙂
Great photos, Madhu. I think Charles Metcalfe must have been quite a character, and he built his folly in such a picturesque spot. The painted ceiling inside the tomb, is exquisite.
Thanks Sylvia. The ceiling was a pleasant surprise! The builder of the folly is Thomas Metcalfe actually, the British resident at the Mughal court and the younger brother of Charles Metcalfe. The latter was the governor general of Bengal. It seems Thomas’s son was also in the Indian civil services!! 🙂
Wow… i dint know about this place…thank you madhu for introducing me to this wonderful place
You are most welcome Divz! Hope you can go see it for yourself soon 🙂
It looks like a lesser known Taj Mahal, or a Taj Mahal would-be look after devastation. 😉 India is a magical country.
Yes, there is quite a bit of the magical here Rommel. The magic is not quite utilized to its full potential though.
I regret that we didn’t get to include this on our trip. A short visit wouldn’t do it justice and I would prefer a guided walk as you suggest, by someone hopefully with a vested interest in the subject. Lovely pictures and unique history… To be absorbed.
Thanks Lynne. You would need well over two hours just for the park. That is the reason most people, even locals, skip this. The Qutub complex is much easily done though, but almost always full of tourists.
Really beautiful post, Madhu – not only entertaining but also educational for me.
And that ceiling is truly amazing…colours, patterns, the mood…all…
Thank you Ese. Glad you enjoyed this post. That tomb with its amazing ceiling was the highlight for me.
It was fun to drop by and get a quick history lesson on three different countries in a row! I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your photography in each post. Take care, and happy travels Madhu. I often wonder where your wanderings will take you next.
Thank you so much Elisa. Happy you enjoyed all three. I always struggle with the amount of history to include.
Mehrauli is my favorite history spot. Did you see Jahaaz Mahal? It is another amazing structure and catches you unawares – right in the midst of the little galis, it suddenly looms before your eyes: ‘come, check out this piece of historical elegance’!
Excellent images! I watched them many times over, soaking in the smell of the ages. 🙂
Delighted that you enjoyed the photos Meenakshi! We didn’t have time for Jahaaz Mahal and the neighbouring monuments sadly. A good excuse to return 🙂
Takes you back to history. Wonderful captures.
Thank you Niranjan. Yes, that walk spanned nearly a thousand years of our history!
What a terrific initiative, Madhu – making 1000 years of history easily accessible – and beautifully kept. Its good to see something positive about poor Delhi – all we (overseas) seem to hear about that beguiling city is about traffic, and overcrowding … you know, negative things.
You forgot the R word Meredith. Sad that Delhi’s ancient history is overshadowed by so much negativity. And that initiatives such as this are few and far between.
What a fascinating exploration, it feels so fresh and green in among all that rich history . . .
It does. And surprisingly clean Patti. Impressed with our authorities for a change!
Your pictures are simply amazing, Madhu!
As a bonus I’m sure it would be a lot more peaceful than the usual tourist haunts too