A brief stroll through the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi

One of the oldest existing cities in the world, Delhi is unsurprisingly rich for historical ruins, tombs and other monuments. However, some like the Red Fort can get extremely crowded and it is not feasible to walk from, say the Old Fort to Lodhi Gardens. If you do have a beautiful day and are looking for a leisurely walk where history surrounds you at every turn, make a visit to the Mehrauli Archaeological Park in south-west Delhi, not very far from the Qutub Minar complex.

Hindi names are given whenever required to make it easier for you to locate a place.

If you are coming north on the main road Anuvrat Marg, (Qutub Minar side), you will see signs (in Hindi only) for the small cut-off on the left for the Jain Dadabadi Temple, just outside the park. Make a turn in the lane, and not far away, on the left side is a nonfunctioning mosque, Madhi Masjid.

Backside of the mosque
Thought to be from the Lodi period (1451 - 1526), the mosque is now generally forgotten by most tourists and even many locals are unaware of its existence. When I visited, some restoration work was going on, and they kindly explained to us about the history of the mosque. The structure probably served as a temple before becoming a mosque, as evidenced by the construction of a lotus on the dome.

There are many more monkey visitors than human ones so be careful and don't carry any food. 

If you return to the main road and make a left, and keep going on the left side of the road, you will see the entrance to the park on the left. The path is not much wider than needed for one car, but you can drive in and stop at the various ruins, there are too few visitors to make driving in a challenge. 

Inside the park (free entry) the first structure you'll come across is Balban's tomb (Balban ka makbara). Although undergoing restoration work when we visited, there were no restrictions to visit and the workers didn't seem to mind.

Ruins of the gateway leading to Balban's tomb
Built in the latter half of the 13th century, the tomb complex is said to be the first appearance of the arch in Islamic architecture in India. The tomb is of Ghiyas ud din Balban, a ruler of the Slave dynasty of the Delhi Sutanate from 1266 to 1287.

Balban began his career in the Sultanate after being bought as a slave by Sultan Iltutmish in 1233. He quickly rose through the ranks and had power in some capacity for about 40 years. A very hard worker, Balban was the de facto ruler during Sultan Mahmud's reign, who had no interest in governance. After Mahmud died, Balban was pronounced sultan.

Looking around the tomb complex
Continue onto the complex of an enclosed tomb, of which little information is given.

Further ahead is one of the area's more popular and better maintained sights, the Tomb and Mosque of Jamali Kamali (Jamali Kamali ka Makbara aur Masjid).

Entrance to the Tomb and Mosque of Jamali-Kamali
What a rhythmic name! Jamali, the alias of Shaikh Fazlu'llah was a Sufi saint during the Lodi dynasty and Kamali was a person associated with him, though exact details are lacking.

Exterior of the Mosque
Detail in the interior
Right opposite the mosque compound is a slightly elevated, grassy area which can serve as a nice picnic ground and provides aerial views of both the Jamali Kamali Mosque Compound and up to Qutub Minar.

Aerial view of Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tombs

View of the Qutub Minar
You can also treat your taste buds to one of Delhi's popular street food specialties- a chaat of sweet potato locally known as shakarkandi.

There must be enough visitors to make it worth their while to sell here.
Still not crowded though, on the holiday when I visited. 
A stepwell is exactly that, a well with steps, locally known as baoli. Slightly further ahead is Rajon ki Baoli.

Rajon ki Baoli
Believed to have been built during the Lodi dynasty in 1516, this stepwell is an architectural gem and was used to provide drinking water at that time. Of course, now you may not want to get too close to the unsightly green at the bottom- be careful not to fall in while admiring the architecture!

In the interior, climb the narrow steps (again, with caution) to go one level up, to get a better view of the adjoining mosque. 

The mosque

Interior of the mosque, definitely in need of some work!

The area is also home to some more, you guessed it, tombs
Unfortunately I could only spend a bit over an hour here, clearly the size and scale of the place suggests that one could easily spend 3+ hours out here. 

Restoration work is going on at several monuments here. Let's hope for some results.

'Protected Monument' signboards waiting to be put against the respective monument
Restoration work in full swing

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