Quli Khan’s Tomb, Mehrauli, Delhi
Quli Khan’s Tomb
Also see: Monuments of Mehrauli
As I walked out of the Qutab complex, two strange looking pyramid like structures attracted my attention. In a bid to explore I took the footpath between the two and reached an open area marked as Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Straight ahead was an octagonal structure.
Suddenly a few lines from Willam Dalrymple’s famous novel The Last Mughal flashed into my mind “To the south of Delhi, Metcalfe established a second country house, “Dilkusha” (Delight of the Heart), in a converted octagonal Mughal tomb near Mehrauli ….a Mughal garden – a four part charbagh – was laid out in the front of the tomb.”
The octagonal Tomb of Mohammad Quli Khan, was converted into a garden house, in about 1830s, by Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalf, civil servant and agent of the Governor General of India at the imperial court of the last Mughal Enperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Metcalf called it the Dilkhusha meaning “delight of the heart,” and used it as a pleasure retreat. Located in the shadows of Qutub Minar, it was surrounded by gardens and follies.
The two strange looking pyramid like structure, at the entrance of Mehurali Archaeological Park, were also part of the ornamentation of Metcalf’s Dilkhusha.
Metcalf used to lease out the house to honeymooning couples.
But the history of Dilkhush dates back far beyond the days of Metcal or of the British. The tomb belongs to Mohammad Quli Khan, a general of Akbar’s army.
Nothing much is know about Quli Khan or the battels he won. He was the son of Maham Anga, who was often considered as the foster mother of Akbar.
Quli Khan was also the brother of notorious Adam Khan, whose tomb stands next to the Mehrauli Bus Stop.
In 1830s Mercalf transformed the tomb into a country house, which served as a pleasure retreat till his death in 1853.
During the revolt of 1857 Metcalf’s Dilkhush was vandalized and left in ruins. For the next century and half Quli Khan’s Tomb, along with the other monuments of Mehrauli, were forgotten and left in utter neglect.
It was only during the beginning of the new millennium Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) took up the initiative of restoring the tombs of Mehruli, leading to the formation of Mehrauli Archaeological Park.
Since then the Tomb of Quli Khan has been restored to its former glory, can be considered as one of the most stunning tombs of Delhi.
The tomb stands on a high plinth and is approached by a flight of stairs. Its is octagonal on outside and square on Inside.
The exterior has designs of stuco plasters consisting on calligraphy, floral and geometric designs. A few traces of coloured glazed tiles can also be seen. The interiors are exquisitely ornamented with intricate and painted plaster work.