January, 2021July 15, 2022
Top 5 Places to Visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park – Top Offbeat Attractions of Delhi
Delhi, a city that has been in existence for centuries, a city that has been ruled over by several dynasties and experienced everything from massacre to carnivals; Delhi was divided into seven different cities and Mehrauli was one of them. Today, Mehrauli is home to some of the most ancient historical monuments that you will get to see around. Mehrauli Archaeological Park which is a heritage park holds several monuments with a 1000-year-old history. The moment you walk into the park, you walk into an era where Delhi served as a home to several outside rulers. It is believed that the monuments of Mehrauli Archaeological Park are around half a century older than those of Shahjahanabad. Here, I will tell you about the top places to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park which you shouldn’t miss whenever you are here.
The historical significance of Mehrauli Archaeological Park is so rich that historians believe that the first-ever true arched tomb to be built in India was built in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. However, some don’t confirm it but a majority of them back up this theory. After visiting Mehrauli Archaeological Park twice, I have realized that I had missed such a historic gem even after spending so much time in Delhi. One of the biggest reasons is that this place isn’t highlighted that much. It’s free to visit and doesn’t contribute to commercial tourism. Who knows someday it may…
Among the top historical places to visit in Delhi, Mehrauli Archaeological Park stands silently and is often visited by history and heritage lovers only. Several independent heritage walk organizers conduct tours of this area and highlight the history and other stories. If you are planning to spend a weekend in Delhi with dose of history, now you know where to go.
Take a look at the history of Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Mehrauli Archaeological Park has been in existence for over 1000 years old. The ruins of Lal Kot can be traced here. Note that Tomar Rajputs built Lal Kot which is also known as Kila Rai Pithora.
Spread in an area of around 42 acres, this place has seen several dynasties including Khalji, Tughlaq, Lodhi, Mughal, and finally the British. Thus, one can imagine the age of Mehrauli Archaeological Park. This place holds not only a historic but cultural significance in the history of Delhi. You will find several other monuments near Mehrauli Archaeological Park which you can visit along with it. No doubt, Delhi has several places which are visited by not only the Indians but foreigners as well. But when we talk about Mehrauli Archaeological Park, even the local Delhi people may have difficulty in recollecting if there is any place by this name in the city.
Top 5 Attractions and Places to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Mehrauli Archaeological Park is home to countless monuments and ruins. Many of these ruins and monuments date back to several centuries and are an example of the architecture of that period. When Delhi was continuously attacked and ruled over by foreign dynasties, those dynasties left their impressions in form of these monuments which narrate their stories in form of architecture. Today, there are nearly 10 places to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park which are somewhat maintained and kept safe. While several monuments have been turned into ruins, I found some monuments in Mehrauli Archaeological Park which had no name. The only thing that was known, was the era these monuments belonged to.
Let’s have a look at the top places to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park in one day.
1. Tomb of Balban
Just when you enter Mehrauli Archaeological Park from the metro side, the very first monument that you will come across is Balban’s Tomb. This tomb now lies in ruins and only walls are standing. This cluster of ruins belongs to Balban, the king of Mamluk or Slave dynasty. Born as Ghiyas-ud-din Balban in 1206 AD to a Turkish nobleman, he was sold as a slave in Afghanistan’s bazaar. As per the historic records, the tomb is said to have been built in 1287 CE. This tomb is known to be the first tomb built in India that used a true arch in construction. Just next to the tomb, you will see the grave of his son. However, the sarcophagus of Balban is missing from his tomb.
2. Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb
The second place to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park is Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb. These two monuments are located opposite the tomb of Balban. The mosque is said to be a forerunner of Mughal mosque designs in India. Well, the year of its construction isn’t clearly known but it is believed that its construction started around 1528-29 and finished by 1536 during Humanyu’s rule. Jamal Khan was a disciple of Sheikh Sama-ud-din who was a great Sufi poet. Jamal himself was a Sufi poet and was well known for his soulful poetry. It is not known was Kamali was. Some say he was Jamal Khan’s servant. Some believe they both had homosexual relationships. Some believe that Kamali was Jamali’s wife while some say that Kamali was a poet and Jamali took all credit.
3. Tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan
Mohammad Quli Khan was Akbar’s foster brother, brother of Adham Khan, and son of Maham Anga. The exact date of construction of Quli Khan’s tomb is not known. Yet it is said that the tomb was built in the 17th century during Jahangir’s rule. The tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan is built in traditional Mughal architecture style. Based on a raised platform, this tomb has been incredibly decorated with different colored tiles and ink designs on its walls and ceilings. This is one of the most beautiful monuments to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. The monument was later modified by Sir Thomas Metcalfe and used for recreational purposes.
4. Rajon ki Baoli
There are two stepwells in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Rajon ki Baoli is one of them. As per the facts, this stepwell was built during Sikander Lodhi’s rule and was commissioned by Daulat Khan in 1506. There are several chambers like structures in the baoli which were supposed to be built for passengers so that not only they would drink the water but also rest for a while. This is a three-storeyed monument that has arches on both sides. On the top floor of this monument, there is a tomb and a domed structure that has a sarcophagus. I am not sure about them. It is said the mosque belonged to some Khwaja Mohammad.
5. Gandhak ki Baoli
Gandhak ki Baoli is located just outside the enclosures of Mehrauli Archaeological Park. I had a hard time navigating the way to this monument since I was locating it within the walls of Mehrauli Archaeological Park. This monument is now closed with fences and public entry is restricted. It’s named so due to the presence of Sulfur in its water. The baoli is believed to be built around the Slave dynasty (1211-1236). It is said that once Iltutamish visited Saint Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki who lived in the Mehrauli area. The king found that Mehrauli faced extreme water shortage issues. Thus he commissioned the construction of this baoli.
Lodhi Era Tomb in Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Other than these top 5 monuments in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, there are several other monuments that have no information. These monuments were my center of curiosity when I visited them. One monument was a Lodhi era tomb which was located just opposite Rajon ki Baoli. The information board that is put here only tells that it is a Lodhi era monument. Nothing else is mentioned more like who built it, for whom it was built, when it was built, etc.
Pathan Era Tomb in Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Take a walk towards Gandhak Ki Baoli and you will find another such monument which has no information, no name. This monument is the last one to visit in Mehrauli Archaeological Park if you take a walk towards Gandhak Ki Baoli from the park. The information board put here only reads that the monument belongs to the Pathan Period.
Top 5 Places to Visit near Mehrauli Archaeological Park
When you are done visiting Mehrauli Archaeological Park and you still have enough time to explore around, there are several other monuments to visit around Mehrauli Archaeological Park. But ensure that you have enough time else you may consider coming back some other time.
1. Zafar Mahal
Zafar Mahal was built in the 18th century by Akbar Shah II and was later by Bahadur Shah Zafar II. Also known as Jangli Mahal sometimes, this is the last Mughal monument that was built in India, built as a summer palace. When you walk out of Mehrauli Archaeological Park, you can take a short walk to the monument. You will have to enter the dargah of Khwaja Qutubddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. Take off your shoes, hold them in your hands, and walk enter the dargah. You can ask people around. Zafar Mahal now lies in ruined forms, surrounded by houses and markets.
2. Adham Khan’s Tomb
Adham Khan was Akbar’s foster brother. Akbar ordered to kill him by defenestration when he found out that Adham Khan murdered Atagah Khan whom the emperor respected like his father. Tomb of Adham Khan is located just close to Mehrauli Bus Terminus. Also known as Bhul Bhulaiya, the monument had two graves, one belonged to Adham Khan and one to his mother Maham Anga who died in his son’s grief 40 days after his death. Today, his mother’s grave is missing from the monument. Built in octagonal shape which was a primary feature of Lodhi tombs, Adham Khan’s tomb was the first Mughal tomb to be built in India in 1562.
3. Qutub Minar Complex
Qutub Minar complex, located near Mehrauli Archaeological Park houses several monuments such as the world-famous Qutub Minar, the tomb of Iltutamish, the tomb of Imam Zamin, Alai Minar, Alai Darwaza, etc. Qutub Complex is a ticketed complex which means you need to buy an entry ticket. Qutub Minar is open for the night as well.
Read Here – Interesting Facts about Qutub Minar
4. Tomb of Azim Khan
When you enter Mehrauli Archaeological Park from the metro side, you will see a monument with greyish walls, standing on a rocky plinth opposite the park. It is the tomb of Azim Khan. Not much is known about him. He was a general in Akbar’s army and the emperor titled him as Akbar which meant magnificent. Azim khan later became spiritual and turned a saint. He chose this place as his meditation and residential place based on such a height so that he could avoid disturbance by people and meditate in silence.
Unknown Lodhi Era Tomb in Lado Sarai
When you walk to Azim Khan tomb, you will see a small ruined monument on the other side of the road, located in a busy park of Lado Sarai. The monument bears no date, no name, no information, etc. The only thing those information boards tell is that it is a Lodhi era monument and tells a little bit about its architecture.
How to reach Mehrauli Archaeological Park?
The easiest way to reach Mehrauli Archaeological Park is by metro. The nearest metro station is the Qutub Minar metro station on the yellow line. You can take a shared auto rickshaw or you can book your own, both online or offline as per your comfort. It hardly takes ten minutes to reach here from the metro station. You will be dropped at the gate of the park. Mind that there are two gates to the park.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park Travel Guide
Mehrauli Archaeological Park opens at 6 AM and closes by 6 PM. There are no shops, stalls, etc. inside the park. So, you will have to carry your own water bottle and eatables. There are parks, benches, you can sit and relax for a while. Make sure that you don’t throw garbage around and only throw it in the dustbins. Mehrauli Archaeological Park is among the free entry places/monuments of Delhi, thus you don’t have to buy an entry ticket. There are several food outlets, restaurants, and cafés near the park and near the Qutub complex where you can have nice meal options.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park is among the top offbeat places to visit in Delhi. I was surprised when I visited this park for the first time in January 2020. I had visited Qutub Minar several times and never knew about this place. It was later in late 2019 only when I got to read about this heritage place and decided to explore it. If you are looking to explore unseen places in Delhi, consider Mehrauli Archaeological Park and you won’t be disappointed. If you are someone who loves history, ancient architecture, this is where you should come and spend some time roaming, exploring the ruins which were built centuries ago.
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I am a food & travel enthusiast, a music aficionado, poet, artist, and someone who loves to explore unexplored/off-beat places. I started this blog to share my food and travel journey.