The Ruins Of Mehrauli

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……….

Balban's tomb, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
The tomb of Balban, Iltutmish’s slave and the last of the Mamluk sultans is said to be the first structure in India to use Islamic arches.. The grave (see thumbnail) is now believed to be that of Balban’s son, Khan Shahid,DSC_4461 copy

Balban's tomb, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi

Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
Jamali Kamali Mosque
Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
Mirhab, Jamali Kamali Mosque
Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
The Jamali Kamali Mosque
Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
A small tip to the caretaker gains one entry into the tomb of Jamali Kamali – an unassuming structure, with impressive interior ornamentation.
Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
The spectacular painted ceiling
Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
The dome of a Lodi period tomb in the distance
Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
Metcalfe’s folly!
Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
View of Qutub Minar from Quli Khan’s tomb or Dilkusha. Quli Khan was the son of Akbar’s wet nurse, so considered a foster brother. Sir Thomas Metcalfe later converted this tomb into a summer residence.
Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi
Rajaon ki Baoli – a step well and the tomb of Adham Khan

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.

Posted by

Hi, I'm Madhu. Wanderer. Travel blogger. Story teller. Bitten late and hard by the travel bug, I am on a mission to make up for lost time.

92 thoughts on “The Ruins Of Mehrauli

  1. 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.

    1. 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!! 🙂

  2. It looks like a lesser known Taj Mahal, or a Taj Mahal would-be look after devastation. 😉 India is a magical country.

    1. Yes, there is quite a bit of the magical here Rommel. The magic is not quite utilized to its full potential though.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. Really beautiful post, Madhu – not only entertaining but also educational for me.
    And that ceiling is truly amazing…colours, patterns, the mood…all…

  5. 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.

  6. 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. 🙂

    1. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

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