Qutb and Mehrauli: The Past and Present of an Iconic Site

#1 Nov 30th, 2017, 22:19
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Qutb Minar. Credit: lensnmatter/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Mehrauli is truly a magical place. The average visitor skims but the surface, marvelling at the towering Qutb Minar and taking a cursory stroll through the other buildings that lie within the popular UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Qutb complex. Those who go beyond, into the neighbouring village, may visit the shrine of the Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, or a restaurant. There is now, of course, a smaller group of more adventurous explorers who are discovering the treasures of Mehrauli – particularly in the village and the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, mainly through the medium of increasingly popular ‘heritage walks’.

But though one may visit these monuments and learn the stories that lie in this locality’s long and eventful history, there are many layers that lie awaiting a more rigorous and meaningful analysis. A scholarly study by a leading art historian is, therefore, a very valuable addition to what is admittedly the rather sparse literature on the subject.

Catherine B. Asher’s Delhi’s Qutb Complex: The Minar, Mosque and Mehrauli starts by setting the monuments of the Qutb Complex within the physical space and history of Mehrauli, and in the context of its many historic structures. Construction on the oldest congregational mosque of Delhi and its attached monumental tower began in the late 12th century, and was commissioned by a newly-arrived political power, the Turks – under Muizzuddin Muhammad bin Sam, also known as Muhammad Ghori – as part of a capital complex that comprised fortifications, palaces and water works. Many structures had of course already been standing there, the legacy of the earlier regimes – those of the Chauhan and Tomar rulers.
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#2 Dec 1st, 2017, 12:23
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Qutub Complex and Mehrauli Archaeological Park are full of history. Am planning a visit there on Sunday.
#3 Dec 1st, 2017, 15:59
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Originally Posted by RahulDeva View Post Qutub Complex and Mehrauli Archaeological Park are full of history. Am planning a visit there on Sunday.
Make sure you don't just visit the "ticketed" area. A larger part of the park is "unticketed" and contains among other things the "Rajon ki Baoli" and Ghias-ud-Balban's tomb.
#4 Jan 13th, 2018, 16:11
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Wilting Beauty: The Sad State of Mehrauli’s Monuments


A part of Chaumachi Khan’s Tomb. The tomb is encroached by the buildings around. (Photo Courtesy: Majid Alam)

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Mehrauli is one of the oldest settlements in Delhi. It has been the centre of power since the medieval centuries.

Today, it has monuments dating back to the Slave Dynasty, Lodi Dynasty and the Mughal Era. Some of the heritage structures include the Zafar Mahal, Hauz-e-Shamsi, Jahaz Mahal, Tomb of Adam Khan, Chaumachi Khan’s tomb, Jharna (fountain), Gandak Ki Baoli, Qutub Sahab ki Baoli and any many other heritage structures which remain unidentified.

Most of these heritage structures fall under the list of “Protected Monuments” by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

But the heritage structures in Mehrauli suffer from state neglect, lack of maintenance and encroachment. Urban settlements have sprung around these monuments violating the laws. The existence of many such monuments is threatened with the rise of buildings. Today, Mehrauli is an amalgam of old and new civilisation where the people coexist with these heritage structures.

Delhi has been home to many dynasties. Each dynasty brought with it different cultures, people and architecture. Delhi has a number of areas which have been the centres of different empires and dynasties. Mehrauli Historical city is a unique example where the old civilisation, with its heritage structures, survives with the current settlements.

People from the adjoining areas have modified the heritage structure into a house to live in.
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