Mehrauli was originally known as Mihirawali that means The Home of Mihir. It was founded and named after King Mihir Bhoja of the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty and is situated in the outskirts of Delhi. This region is situated in the South West District of Delhi with Hauz Khas situated to its north, Vasant Kunj situated to its West and Tughlakabad area situated to its south. The soil of this region consists of sandy loam to loam texture whereas the water level has substantially decreased due to excess usage and urbanisation. The water table measures approximately between 45 m to 50 m and may further decrease in time if the population and usage is not seriously tapped by the State Government.
Mehrauli is one of the seven ancient and medieval cities that form the present city of Delhi. It remained as the capital of the ruling Dynasties up till 1290 AD after which, the Capital was shifted to Siri Fort during the Khilji Dynasty. Historically, the first ancient city, Lal Kot Fort, was constructed by Anangpal I, a Gurjar Tanwar Chief around 731 AD that was later expanded by Anangpal II during the 11th Century AD. During the 12th Century AD, Lal Kot Fort was further expanded by Prithvi Raj Chauhan after he defeated the Gurjar Tanwars Clan and took command over the City. He renamed the City as Qila Rai Pithora. Later, the Rajputs were defeated by Mohammed Ghori in 1192 AD, who in turn handed over the administrative charge of the City to his General, Qutb-ud-din Aibak and then returned to Afghanistan. This battle laid the foundations of the Muslim rule in Northern India and the commencement of the Delhi Sultanate reign.
According to a 12th Century Jain Scripture, Mehrauli was called as Yogninipura and this is apparent to the presence of the famous Yogmaya Temple believed to have been built by the Pandavas of the Mahabharata era and is currently situated near the Qutub Minar Complex.
Mehrauli is distinguished by its historical past and showcases exquisite monuments and architectural insights. Despite the fact that the capital was shifted from this region to Siri during the Slave Dynasty, the other Dynasties who once ruled this place have definitely left a distinctive feature in terms of the architecture seen in this region. The most renowned and visible feature is the Qutb Complex which is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Others include the Mausoleum or Dargah of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki who was a 13th Century Sufi Saint that is situated near the Qutub Minar Complex and is also a venue for the ‘Phoolwalon-Ki-Sair’ Festival celebrated every year. This Dargah Complex also houses the graves of Mughal Emperors; Bahadur Shah I, Shah Alam II, and Akbar II that are situated in an adjacent marble enclosure. The Moti Masjid [Mosque] constructed for private prayer by Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I is situated towards the left of this Dargah. Mahatma Gandhi Ji had also visited this Dargah on the Urs of this Sufi Saint on 27th January 1948.
Mehrauli also homes the Tomb of Balban and the ‘Tomb of Khan Shahid’ [Balban’s son] which is situated close by in Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Khan Shahid died before he was crowned as the Sultan. The Rajon Ki Bain Baoli or Step-well is another beautiful feature in Mehrauli. This Baoli was constructed in 1506 AD during the reign of Sikandar Lodhi with the primary purpose to store water in those days, however, today; it is completely dry and hence renamed as Sukhi Baoli or Dry Step-well.
Another historical feature in Mehrauli is the Jamali Kamali Masjid [Mosque] that was built in 1528 AD in honour of Sufi Saint Shaikh Hamid Bin Fazlullah who was also known as Jalal Khan or Dervish Shaikh Jamali Kamboh Dihlawi. His Mausoleum that was built in 1536 AD is situated adjacent to this mosque. Other monumental features in this region include the Tomb of Adham Khan also known as Bhulbhulaiyan, the Tomb of Mughal General, Muhammad Quli Khan [later converted into Metcalfe House or Dilkusha by Sir Thomas Metcalfe], Sultan Ghari’s Tomb, Madhi Masjid entrance gateway, the bastion of Lal Kot Fort, Zafar Mahal, Bagichi Ki Masjid [Mehrauli Archaeological Park], Jahaz Mahal on the banks of Hauz-i-Shamsi and Palam Masjid are a few to name.
Besides the architectural delights to visit, Mehrauli is also a well planned region that has its own residential complex with schools and hospitals situated in close proximity. The Jawahar Lal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication are a few of the several other educational institutes situated in this area.
Mehrauli encompasses areas such as Khanpur [New Delhi], Malviya Nagar and Saket. It is easily accessible by road and offers public transport such as buses, taxi cabs and auto rickshaws that are easily available for hire and operate to and from this region. The Qutub Minar – Gurgaon Metro corridor will open to public on June 2010 while the Qutub Minar Central Secretariat Metro Corridor will commence from July 2010 and onwards, hence, in the interim, visitors can use the public transport for commuting to and from this region.
Mehrauli is situated approximately 11.5 Kms or 31 minutes from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, 16.2 Kms or 41 minutes approximately from the New Delhi Railway Station and 20.9 Kms or 52 minutes from the Old Delhi Railway Station by road.