Metcalfe House


Metcalfe House used to be a residential mansion, built in the 19th Century by Sir Thomas Metcalfe who was the 4th Baronet, a Civil Servant, and the last British resident and Agent of the British Governor General at the Court of the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II. The structure located near Civil Lines was built in 1835 and called the ‘Town house’ initially where Sir Metcalfe lived up till his mysterious demise in 1853. Many believe that he was poisoned by Zeenat Mahal, the wife of Emperor Zafar II. It was constructed in the Old traditional British colonial style but got damaged during the 1857, uprising but was later repaired and inherited by his son, Sir Theophilus Metcalfe. The laborers who built the Metcalfe Mansion often called this House the ‘Matka Kothi’ where ‘Matka’ was short for ‘Metcalfe’ and ‘Kothi’ means ‘House’ as it was hard for them to pronounce his name correctly. After several inheritances, the Government of India acquired the Metcalfe Mansion and converted it into a highly secured residence and official complex of the Defence establishments. Although it is closed for public visits and photography is strictly prohibited, you can still get an exterior view of the mansion.

The architecture of Metcalfe House 

Image Src : Nvvchar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Metcalfe named his Mansion ‘Jahan Numa’ which means ‘Showing to the World’ and took great pride in his inheritance built as a massive double storied palatial Indo-European style mansion encircled with wide galleries supported by beautiful stone columns, high ceilings, small windows imitating the Red Fort Palace ventilators. The exquisite architecture of the front of the house is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and walkways fringed with cypress trees, orange orchards, and a huge variety of flowers. It had an underground Billiards Room and other ‘tykhanas’ or rooms used mainly during summers for resting and seeking respite from the hot weather. His library hosted over 25,000 books and the relics of Napoleon were proudly displayed in the Napoleon gallery along with exquisite Georgian furniture made of rosewood and beautiful canvas oil paintings.

Sir Metclafe’s ‘Dilkusha’ 

Image Src: Nvvchar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sir Metcalfe built another mansion as his ‘Summer Retreat House’ in Mehrauli, as this part of Delhi was considered as a hill station, with many people visiting the place during summer breaks. Metcalfe made sure that the mansion featured manicured gardens and numerous rest houses designed extravagantly. The Boathouse has steps leading directly to the mansion. The other or second Metcalfe House located within the Mehrauli Complex in South Delhi was named by Sir Metcalfe as ‘Dil-khush’ where ‘Dil’ means ‘Heart’ and ‘Khush’ means ‘Delight’ and hence meaning ‘Delight of the Heart’ and also called as ‘The Retreat’ in English. 

The Metcalfe Mansion was also leased to many couples on Honeymoon vacations as it provided a panoramic view of the Qutub Minar and the other historical structures surrounding it. Today, this mansion is seen partially in ruins and is enclosed within the recently developed Archaeological Park maintained by ASI within the Qutub Complex and deemed as a protected Heritage site and welcomed for all tourists to visit at a decent entry fee. 

How to reach Metcalfe House 

The nearest metro station to Metcalfe House is the Kashmiri Gate metro station. Although entry to Metcalfe House is prohibited, you can still get a view of this structure from a distance. On the other, to reach Dilkusha, situated in Mehrauli, the nearest metro station is Saket. From the metro station, you can further take an auto-rickshaw or e-rickshaw to reach your destination.

Places to visit near Metcalfe House

  1. Nehru Place – Nehru Place is your one-stop destination for all your tech needs. You will find all sorts of hardware, software, and other accessories in this market at great deals.
  2. GK M- Block market – This market is considered the most happening place in Greater Kailash. From trendy clothes at flea shops to amazing food at numerous cafes, you will find it all here.
  3. Academy of Fine Arts and Literature – Academy of Fine Arts and Literature is an art gallery, founded in 1975 by famous writer Ajeet Cour. Do visit this gallery if you have a keen interest in art and literature.
  4. Lotus Temple – Lotus Temple, opened its gate to the city in 1986 and is Delhi’s prominent tourist destination. This temple is famous for its flower-like structure. One shouldn’t miss visiting this magnificent temple.