Everyone in Delhi has seen, if not visited the Qutub Minar and yet, very few know what lies behind it is a vast treasure trove of monuments. The Mehrauli Archaeological Park is home to numerous (over a 100) tombs, palace ruins and mosques from the second city of Delhi dating back to the 11th century when the Tomars first built the Lal Kot here. Getting there is easy but also easily missed. Keeping the Qutub Minar Metro Station on your right while going towards the Lado Sarai red light, after crossing a few nurseries on your left you’ll see a DDA sign and a left turn. This left is a dirt track and is exactly what you need to take for an afternoon of mysterious history and architecture.
As you enter, the first ruin would be the Balban’s tomb. But the access to it is from around the Jamali Kamali Masjid, which is the first real monument you’d witness in the park.
Jamali Kamali Mosque
Next up is Balban’s Tomb, with Metcalf’s Folly on the way, which is basically a gazeebo on a hillock. Though Balban’s Tomb is in the most dilapidated state, Balban himself was the most powerful leader of the Delhi Sultanate between Iltutmish and Alauddin Khilji. Bet don’t let these names baffle you if you’re not a history buff. Just keep in mind that this ruler was a Turkish kid who got captured by the Mongols and sold off as a slave at Ghazni. He was first a paltry water bearer and then the King’s personal attendant.
Apart from the scattered monuments and ruins, the park is great place to walk around in, play some games and picnic as well. It’s best to wear good walking shoes and carry along food and water as there’s not much available inside. There are parts of the park that have dense vegetation and make up for good pictures.
Random tombs dot the entire park. You can walk up any that are open to public and click away. Other ruins
One of the most outstanding structures of the park is the Rajon ki baoli. Baoli is a term for step well. Rajon Ki Baoli, a stepwell built by Daulat Khan during the reign of Sikander Lodi in 1516. Though the water at the bottom of the baoli is stagnant and full of algae, you can still walk around the whole structure exploring its extremely narrow stairs from one floor to the other. This is a perfect place to sit for hours and soak up some winter sun and click a ton of pictures.
The park is huge and you can easily find a spot for your own. Some places are more crowded than the others, like the area around Metcalf’s Folly. You can also reach the park by walking about a kilometer or so from Qutub Minar, just pick a Sunday and picnic away.
Where: Opposite Qutub Minar Metro Station, Anuvrat Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi.
Nearest Metro Station: Qutub Minar