Mehrauli Archaeological Park: The Remains of Delhi’s History
Bordering the Qutub Minar complex, but overlooked by most of the tourist hordes, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park preserves some of the  historic relics of Delhi. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
Bordering the Qutub Minar complex, but overlooked by most of the tourist hordes, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park preserves some of the historic relics of Delhi. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

Mehrauli Archaeological Park: The Remains of Delhi’s History

Mehrauli Archaeological Park, or should I just say, a park in Mehrauli.

Bordering the Qutub Minar complex, but overlooked by most of the tourist hordes, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park preserves some of the historic relics of Delhi.

I set out to see this place when a colleague told me about it being older than the all-so-famous, old Delhi.

Being new to the city, I trusted Google to lead me to this place. As ordered by my usually trusted companion, I got off at the Qutub Minar metro station, well equipped with my camera and four lenses.

I negotiated with an autorickshaw driver to take me to the park. Initially, he found it weird that I wanted to go to this park instead of Qutub Minar, as all his other passengers did.

A nondescript gate holds the entrance of the place that holds a wonderful collection of 1,000 years of Delhi’s history.

There was no board or person to welcome you into the place.

The entrance of the park. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The entrance of the park. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
People have been bending the rules of the park, and the board too. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
People have been bending the rules of the park, and the board too. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The autorickshaw left and I had no other option as the sun was setting on me, literally. So, I entered the place which seemed like it hadn’t been inhabited by a living soul in ages.

A few steps inside the gate, and I saw some movement near a dilapidated construction called the tomb of Khan Shahid. I approached it to see small kids in white kurtas and skull caps, running around. As I reached out to get my camera, I saw an elderly man asking the kids to assemble in front of a wall, to pray.

They started their evening prayers as I clicked them from a distance.

A sneak-peak of the kids praying. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
A sneak-peak of the kids praying. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The first time I felt that this place was an archaeological site is when I saw this huge gate built in the Mughal style.

The motorcycle, however, didn’t belong to the Mughals. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The motorcycle, however, didn’t belong to the Mughals. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The first monument I saw in the park was Jamali-Kamali’s mosque and tomb. The mosque was guarded by one guard. His eyes lit up when I asked him if I could take pictures of the place. I asked him if people came to visit the place.

He said that there is nothing to see, why would people come. He also mentioned that, if the government took a little care of the place, then it might have more visitors.

The thing to be noted here is that this place if one of the 15,000 monuments protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.

I asked him if I could see the tomb. He didn’t approve of the idea and said that it is not safe to enter the tomb after sunset.

Jamali-Kamali’s mosque. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
Jamali-Kamali’s mosque. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
The mosque hasn’t really been protected lately. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The mosque hasn’t really been protected lately. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
The tomb, which was out of bounds after sunset. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The tomb, which was out of bounds after sunset. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

I followed the walking track that took me through the gardens, where I saw people walking, kids playing and some young couples engaging in a little public display of affection.

The road took me to the next protected monument, the tomb of Muhammad Quli Khan who was from Akbar’s time. The tomb was built significantly higher than the rest of the constructions and had a great view of the gardens and the Qutub Minar. The interiors of the tomb were exquisitely ornamented with painted plasterwork while the exteriors had some glazed tiles.

The front view of the tomb. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The front view of the tomb. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
The beautiful interiors. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The beautiful interiors. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
This kid was elated looking at my camera and I could convince him to pose for me. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
This kid was elated looking at my camera and I could convince him to pose for me. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
The view from the rear end of the tomb. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
The view from the rear end of the tomb. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The garden behind this tomb had a few young men playing cricket.

An old and abandoned place serves as a good playing ground specially when there is scarcity of playing grounds in metropolitan cities. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
An old and abandoned place serves as a good playing ground specially when there is scarcity of playing grounds in metropolitan cities. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
There were at least three groups of people playing cricket that evening. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
There were at least three groups of people playing cricket that evening. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The monuments here had a million love stories etched on them, but not from the Mughal era. The love stories were fairly recent, from the 20th and 21st century. Couples took the liberty to write their names of the walls of the monuments to ‘decorate’ them.

Some love stories will live on, forever. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
Some love stories will live on, forever. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)
While a few other weren’t as successful. It seems Rakhi  broke up with Vikas. Sorry, mate. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
While a few other weren’t as successful. It seems Rakhi broke up with Vikas. Sorry, mate. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

While wandering through the place, I came across another guard. This one was guarding the Rajon ki Baoli, the third and last monument in the park. Unfortunately, I could not see this monument because the guard had just locked the gates to this place which had huge walls. I requested him to open the gates for a while because there were still two hours before the place officially closed.

He said he couldn’t do it because young boys often come there to do drugs after the sun sets.

He left the premises asking me to see other things in the park.

He was a young man himself who quite noticeably had problems with other young people doing drugs. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
He was a young man himself who quite noticeably had problems with other young people doing drugs. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

The rules of conduct inside the park were mentioned quite a few times in the park and also at the entrance. The rules included not bringing in food, playing or cycling and so on. But, to my utter surprise, I saw people living inside the park in temporary tents. These people were not here to work nor were they part of a construction crew. They just found a place to live.

There is a small children’s playing area next to the first tomb near which these tents were set up. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
There is a small children’s playing area next to the first tomb near which these tents were set up. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

Delhi is one of the world’s oldest cities, where monuments unexpectedly crop up amid roads and lanes. Depending on where you are in the city, you could be close to one of at least seven ancient capitals set up by emperors and badshahs of various dynasties.

A couple had just left this place after their pre-wedding photo shoot. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
A couple had just left this place after their pre-wedding photo shoot. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

But earlier this year, the Indian government withdrew its nomination from the UNESCO World Heritage City list.

With the ways the things are in this archaeological park, the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better either.

This beautiful construction is now covered with unwanted plants and moss. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/<b>The Quint)</b>
This beautiful construction is now covered with unwanted plants and moss. (Photo: Abhilash Mallick/The Quint)

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