Mehrauli – The Spiritual City of Delhi

There are many things which make Mehrauli one of the most unique parts of present day Delhi. Besides being the oldest continuously living part of Delhi, Mehrauli houses a whole bunch of monuments from different historical periods. The most interesting aspect of this city (now known as an urban village) is the coexistence of places of worship of different religions located within its confines, some of which date back to the 11th century A.D.

After defeating the ruler of Lal Kot- Prithviraj Chauhan, Turkish ruler Muhammad Ghori established the city of Mehrauli right next to Lal Kot. Soon thereafter, he handed over the reins of this city to another Mamluk or slave ruler, Qutb-ud-din-Aibak. He was the one who set out to build one of the highest towers in the world – the Qutb Minar. Aibak however died before the completion of the tower or minar, and the task was fulfilled by his slave, Iltutmish. Pause a second before you assume that this tower was then named after Aibak. It was named after a sufi saint called Khwaja Qutbuddin Baktiyar Kaki.

The patron saint of Mehrauli, Qutb Sahib belonged to the Chisti order and was the disciple of Moinuddin Chisti whose shrine is present in Ajmer. The shrine of this now famous sufi saint is the oldest dargah of Delhi. The thriving cultural lives of the people living in this area since around the 11th century can be gleaned from the presence of very old Hindu (Jog Maya ji mandir) and Jain (Dada bari) temples.

Sometime in the nineteenth century Mehrauli became the place of summer retreat for Mughal kings like Bahadur Shah Zafar when it enjoyed the shades of huge mango and lichi orchids. Such was the appeal of this beautiful corner of Delhi that even British rulers like Thomas Metcalf ended up spending their summers in this part of the city.

Today Mehrauli can be taken to represent a micro picture of Indian cities. The choc-a-bloc houses located in its narrow streets sit snugly next to gated colonies. The presence of a number of historical monuments located in this tiny village is an indicator of the massive ruins that the whole country actually sits upon. The worshipping sites of different religions participate in one way or the other in the celebration of flowers’ festival called the ‘Phoolwalon ki Sair’ which marks the true secular spirit of India! Finally, to complete the picture, this urban village is also home to quaint bars and restaurants, besides housing stores of some of India’s leading fashion designers like Sabyasachi.

Bottom line: If you are in Delhi do plan a visit to this part of the city for an eclectic taste of India!

Nearest Metro Station: Saket/ Qutub Minar

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