I love to go on heritage and nature walks in my city Delhi (as regular readers on my blog now know very well know). I find it one of the most interesting ways to keep re-discovering my city. It was, therefore a pleasure to go on a heritage walk with noted Historian and Author Rana Safvi on a curated walk in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, listening to the interesting stories and history of Delhi’s First recorded city in history, now located in Mehrauli.
The Mehrauli Archaeological Park walk was organized by an interesting travel group on Facebook.I have been on couple of heritage/nature/food walk with various walking groups in city (to Lodhi Garden, Old Delhi and Hauz Khas among others), however, this walk had an interesting mix of walkers were from diverse professional backgrounds but had the common interest of travel writing/blogging & photography. It’s been some time that me and the husband got the opportunity to indulge ourselves with a walk together (due our toddler, who we cannot take along), so we were quite excited.
The Mehrauli Archaeological Park is a huge area and it is not possible to cover all the heritage structures/complexes in one day, so Mrs. Safvi took us along select route. Our walk started with Dar-ul-Aman/Balban Tomb & Khan-e-Shaheed tomb. It was fascinating to know about the historical significance Dar-ul-Aman in Balban’s time and Mrs Safvi told us many interesting stories interconnected with history. She also pointed out the ‘first true arch’ constructed in Delhi during that period.
The group then moved on to Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb compund. I was completely delighted as I stepped into the compound; the almost deserted compound, with two lone trees was a surreal moment (before other walkers walked in). Mrs Safvi had a special treat for us here; the Jamali Kamali Tomb is kept locked (in order to keep the delicate tiles work safe from damage) and she had obtained permission for all of us accompanying her for sightseeing. The Jamali Kamali Tomb was a serene experience and coupled with Mrs. Safvi’s narration about sufi saint Jamali, I was completely transported to the bygone era. The inside of the tomb is like a jewel box, with colored tiles and incised & painted plaster with verses by Sheikh Fazullah Jamali (known as Jamali) inscribed on the edges. There are two tombs
here, one belonging to Jamali and other to Kamali (about which there is no historical information, other than he may be have disciple or relative of Jamali).
The group then moved onto Rajo’n Ki Baoli, which by many heritage lovers in Delhi has been described as the most beautiful of all baolis/stepwells in Delhi. Indeed, the Rajo’n Ki Baoli is a beautiful structure and elaborate one too. We got to know that this baoli/stepwell was named on masons (Rajo’n) maybe due to its being frequented by Masons. Mrs. Safvi narrated many interesting historical facts here, which she beautifully intertwined with stories or myths associated with the structure; it was a pleasure listening to her and it would have been a perfect experience for me, had one walker from the group not tried to interject too many times with conflicting information, all of which had no basis (I sincerely wish that when in a such a group walk, people do not show off their Wikipedia/Google ‘gyan’ when a subject expert is speaking; it not only takes away from the narration but also cuts a bad figure for that one person!!)
The last part of our heritage walk was visit to Muhammad Quli Khan’s Tomb, also known as Dilkusha Complex. This complex had the most interesting history as it was somebody’s tomb which was then converted into a full fledged living quarters by another person in a later period (imagine living in a tomb!!). Thomas Metcalfe bought this tomb of Mohammed Quli Khan and converted it into his summer residence, complete with bedrooms, dining rooms, billiards rooms and a boating area adjacent! I felt Mrs. Safvi had kept the most interesting bit for the last and it was such a pleasure to go on a walk curated by her.
We (me and the husband) had the most enjoyable heritage walk after a long time and he is completely ready to go on another one, organized by TCBG (the fb group) I am part of). All kudos to the main organizer Alka Kaushik and many thanks to Mrs. Rana Safvi for such an enjoyable experience.