“Cast your eyes upon Jamali with kindness and do not look at his idleness and shortcoming’
Mehrauli Archaeological Park is a unique experience in itself. Once a vibrant city of Prithviraj Chauhan, a thriving capital for the Tomars and the Chauhan dynasties, also the capital of the first muslim rule in India, lies unnoticed towards the south-east of Qutub Complex. The park which is scattered over 100 acres of land, is layered in history, right from the ruined tombs of the first slave dynasty till the British era. It shows that the park was never out of sight of all who came to rule over Delhi. A walk around the park is an adventure in itself, as you will be going back and forth in history.
The Tomb of Balban, commenced by himself is located on the western side. Dating back to about 1280 and erected by Balban himself, it is now a ruined, unattractive edifice but a notable landmark in the evolution of the style. For the first time in India we meet with the true arch produced by means of radiating voussoirs, a fact of more than ordinary significance. Such an innovation was a clear intellectual gain, and it is therefore not what this building is that is important, but what it signifies.
The baolis, especially, Gandhak ki Baolī of Sultan Iltutmish and the Rājon ki Baolī of the Sikandar Lodi, gives a deep insight of the water harvesting techniques. The name Rajon ki Baolī was apparently derived from the use of the step-well (baolī) by masons (raj) for some time. This is a four-storeyed step-well supposedly built in 1506, under Sikandar Lodi. It is consists of three long flights of broad steps leading down to the water surrounded by four-storeyed corridors or dalāns. It was obviously meant to act not just as a source of water, but also as a place of rest for thirsty travellers. This is why, besides the small cells (used as rooms) which line the walls, there is a small and pretty mosque here, decorated with more of the finely incised plasterwork. In addition, there’s a small tomb, in the form of a chhatrī (a domed pavilion) was built possibly by Daulat Khan, in 1506. Another baolīis known as Gandhak ki Baolībecause the water in it smelled of sulphur. It is a rock cut step well, four to five levels deep in the ground.Built in the around 1528-29, the Jamali Kamali mosque and his tomb resembling mosques constructed under the Lodis and is said to be the first example of Mughal architecture in Delhi. Sheikh Jamali is the pen name of Sufi saint Sheikh Fazlullah who started his career under Sikandar Lodi and continued the patronage of Babur and Humayun. Hehimself built this mosque and is composed of red sandstone sparsely, but very delicately, ornamented with white marble and grey quartzite highlights.Then the tomb of Quli Khan, the elder brother of Adham Khan is another architectural land mark of the 17th century. This domed octagonal structures speak effortlessly the grandeur of the Mughal glory. When this stretch of land came under the British and Thomas Metcalfe appointed an agent of the East India Company to act as an intermediary between the Company’s government and the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, between 1535-53, he changed the whole space into a resort. He not only built several new structures and additions but also changed the meaning and characteristics of considerable monuments. His creation of boat-house, Dilkusha(Quli Khan’s tomb), dining room etc., are the best example. Among the additions, the chhatrīs, bridge, gardens and lakes are notable.
With atleast a 100 significant monuments being un-earthed and several still lying buried under ground, join us and know as to what made this area so important that even 1000 years and on this place continues to be inhabited right till today.