Walking The South Mehrauli Trail – Delhi Heritage

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Beautiful Jahaj Mahal in South Mehrauli
Beautiful Jahaj Mahal in South Mehrauli

Mehrauli or Mihirawali as it was once known has seen Delhi through the ages. And can tell you more stories about Delhi than any other place barring may be the Purana Qila.  My last walk covered the North Mehrauli Trail. For this walk in South Mehrauli, you can either start from where you left the last walk or you can enter Mehrauli from the other end. The turn that you take for Gurgaon at Andheria More, is where you can start the walk. Walk into the broad road, and you will see the current day Mehrauli with small temporary shops on both sides of the road selling clothes, vegetables and other items of everyday use. If it happens to be Ramzan month, you would see Mithai shops with hillocks of Phirni in shades of White, Yellow, and Brown.

Inside Jahaj Mahal, South Mehrauli
Inside Jahaj Mahal, South Mehrauli

South Mehrauli Walking trail – Places to visit in Delhi

Go a little further, and on your right, you would see an old structure with few windows peeping from it. Go inside and you are at Sohn or Son Burj Masjid.

Son Burj Masjid

I assume it must have been so called because its Burj or Domes would have been golden then. Today you would not see any domes, but just the ruins and remains of this erstwhile Masjid. The entrance to the masjid is actually at the back, where you see a pre-medieval period gate to the Masjid and a wall with few rooms. There are families occupying these rooms so you cannot see them. Putting temporary doors has closed the arches.

Opposite the main gate is the new masjid as it is practiced today. A cover of the asbestos sheet with the main wall painted in white and green. The basic prayer mats are lying around indicate that people still come here for prayers. We spoke to someone who was there, but he was not too willing to share any information about the masjid and we were soon to find out why.

Hauz-e-Shamsi South Mehrauli Delhi
Hauz-e-Shamsi South Mehrauli Delhi

Come back on the main road and keep moving into the Mehrauli town, the road starts tapering and converts into a street. On your right side after some time you would see a board telling you about Pankhay Wali Masjid. But you would have to ask your way to this place which is completely hidden between the houses.

Pankhay Wali Masjid

No one knows why it is called so, and what is the relevance of the fans. My guess is that the offerings made at this place might be that of fans, or maybe this was the first place to get a fan in the town. This small green building is absolutely simple, hardly maintained but a practicing masjid. Similar to this, on the opposite side of the road is Auliya Masjid, which is from about 13th century or so. But unfortunately, the old architecture is being broken and replaced by the current day tiles. When I went there a few months back, I could see a couple of old pavilions with arches and floral murals in the compound of the masjid, but I am not sure if they still exist.

Mix of architectural styles at South Mehrauli, South Delhi
Mix of architectural styles at South Mehrauli

On both sides, if you keep looking keenly, you may spot a dome or two. You can walk up to them and try and decipher what period and who they belong to. Most of these are occupied by the villagers and are now their homes. Someone might have been buried there at some point in time, but now there are people who call it home.

Locals

The people living in these domes were not willing to talk to us. And wanted to know if we are going to report in the newspaper that they are living in the old monument. The fear of losing their homes was written on their faces. When we told them that we are just going around and trying to know Mehrauli, they were friendlier. They requested us not to take pictures and we respected their wish.

From a historians angle, these are encroachments. But from a humanitarian angle, they are homes for many families.

Pankhay Wali Masjid or Fan Mosque in Mehrauli, South Delhi
Pankhay Wali Masjid or Fan Mosque in Mehrauli

Shamsi Talab

Walk some more into the town and you would see a huge tank on your left with an old structure, called Jahaj Mahal standing by its side. This tank is the famous Shamsi Talab or technically speaking Hauz-e-Shamsi, which was built in Iltutmish in the 13th century.

Legend

The legend is that Iltutmish got a dream, according to which he was instructed by the prophet to send his horse and wherever the horse stops build a huge water tank. The spot where the horse stopped is the point where a red sandstone pavilion stands. And the tank was built around it. It is also said that the original tank was at least 4 times the size of the current tank. And pavilion was in the middle of the tank. The pavilion now stands at its one corner.

Jahaj Mahal

Standing by its other side, Jahaj Mahal may have been a holiday place for the kings, a hunting place or may be a serai for the travelers to rest. It is probably called Jahaj Mahal because it may have given an impression of a parked ship by the huge lake. It had two levels as mentioned in some literature. And is also evident from the remaining structure, with a wide moat around it, probably to keep the animals or any other type of enemies away.

Red Stone building

Built in Red sandstone, the tall gate welcomes you into the building. Which has a courtyard and many small cenotaphs on top, with glazed blue and green tiles. There is an indication of a small mosque inside this building by way of a Mihrab on the western wall. Against the water of the lake, it makes a beautiful skyline. You only wish the palace, lake and the area around them were cleaner. Recently a small ASI sandstone board tells you a bit about this place. But what it does not tell you is that these two landmarks of Mehrauli are witness to a lot of history that happened around them. Across the lake on the other side is a Dargah Sharif and the

Across the lake on the other side is a Dargah Sharif and the well-placed boards will guide you to this place. I could not gather much about this place. On the road outside Jahaj Mahal, you would see a lot of vendors selling spices in a row.

Ruins of Jahaj Mahal, South Mehrauli
Ruins of Jahaj Mahal, South Mehrauli

Phool Walon Ki Sair Festival

A festival that keeps alive the spirit of this place is Phool Walon ki Sair. Which starts from Shahjahanabad and comes here to pay homage at Yogmaya temple and Baba Kaki’s Dargah. And finally reaches the spring opposite the Jahaj Mahal, which is the last point of this Sair or walks. There is a board that tells you about Phool walon ki Sair. From that point, you can look down and you would see some old structures. We could not locate the spring. But if you can ignore the filth around, you would see the greenery of Mehrauli Archaeological Park. There are supposedly the gardens that were built around the lake. And the spring was fed from the water that overflow from the Hauz-e-Shamsi.

South Mehrauli Walking trail
South Mehrauli Walking trail

This South Mehrauli walking trail has one of the biggest tanks in Delhi, with a beautiful palace guarding it on one side. And a lot of masjids to pray around. An easy walk that you can take on any day when the sun is not shining too brightly.

Recommend you to read following Places to Visit in Delhi on my Travel Blog.

  1. Delhi Tribal Museum – Tribal know-how under one roof.
  2. Jain Temples of Mehrauli.
  3. Delhi in & around Civil Lines.
  4. Exploring the Red Fort at Old Delhi.
  5. Anandgram: Sanskriti Museum of Terracotta, Everyday Art & Textiles.
  6. Flower Time at Garden of Five Senses, Delhi.
  7. The Fort at Ferozabad aka Feroz Shah Kotla.

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