Delhi Heritage Walks – Protected Monuments in Delhi
Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb in Mehrauli – Hidden Attractions in Delhi
Delhi is a city of cities. So many cities were built in Delhi that sometimes it is rather difficult to identify and date the monuments which are sprinkled across the city and buried amidst the settlements. There are many which are very hard to locate for casual travelers and even the heritage and history enthusiasts. In this sense, Mehrauli Archaeological Park adjacent to Quwwat ul Islam Mosque (Better known as Qutub Minar Complex) is not that difficult to locate. But as the saying goes one seldom notice what is so obvious to eyes. Mehrauli Archaeological Park is an art museum in itself at a scale nearing grand yet almost neglected lying mostly in ruins. There are quite a few structures almost in ruins and then there are some still preserved and awe inspiring to behold. Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb is one such well preserved structure inside the Mehrauli Archaeological Park.
Life and Works of Jamali
Jamali was the alias of the Sufi saint Shaikh Fazlullah, the poet saint lived during the reigns of Sikandar Lodi, Babur and Humayun and died in 1536. Many consider Jamali Kamali as lover and the Tomb constructed as an ode to homosexual love. But while Jamali is described as a Sufi saint, the records say that Kamali is just fiction or a nom de plume. Inside the Tomb, there are 2 Graves. Next to Jamali’s grave is another, his beloved disciple Kamali is buried.
Jamali was initiated into Sufism by Sheikh Samauddin and is considered to have travelled exptensively across Asia and Middle East becoming one of the most popular Poets during that era. He was also appointed as the Poet in the Imperial Courts of the Lodi Empire and continued through to the Mughal era. Even today, Jamali is known for his famous works named ‘The Spiritual Journey of the Mystics’ and ‘The Sun and Moon’. One of his important works was “The Mirror of Meanings”, a classical hagiographic account of the Indian Sufis for which he is most remembered.
Mirror of Meanings – Jamali’s Most Famous Work
The Mirror of Meanings is considered to be Hamid Fadl Allah or Shaikh Fazlu’llah finest expression of Sufi thought which made him immensely popular in India, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. This piece of work was an explanation of the symbolism used by Sufis composed on people request to get a better understanding of Sufi terminology. Written in the figurative and erotic language of Sufis, the poem portrays the union of mystical with eternal shows through the knowledge of the lover’s body and treating each part of the body as a road, leading the mystic lover to the eternal Living. It does sound something akin to the metaphysical poets especially John Donne’s poetry. It is a journey from the phenomenal world into one’s real self, which is the Truth. Each part of the body is a road, leading the mystic lover to the eternal Living.
Jamali Kamali Mosque
Jamali Kamali Tomb and Mosque construction took place somewhere between 1528 and 1536. The Tomb was commissioned by Jamali himself as was the tradition. It is one of the few structures near Quwwat ul Islam Mosque structure with distinctive Mughal Architectural design. Jamali Kamali Mosque is somewhat similar in appearance to Qil’a I Kuhna built by Sher Shah Sur during the interval of Sur dynasty rule and which is located inside Purana Quila. The mosque is built like a small fort with corner turrets and a monumental gateway built in the style of Lodi tombs consisting of rectangular courtyard with 2 prayer halls. The mosque has 5 arched openings with central arch higher than others. The arches are adorned with medallions and there are Koranic inscriptions on the niches and walls which includes the west wall Mihrab decorated with Koranic inscriptions.
Jamali Kamali Tomb
The Tomb of Jamali Kamali is often closed and you’d have to be really lucky to find it open. It was on my third visit that I was able to have a peek into the interiors of the tomb. Another way to gain entrance to the tomb is to look for the Guard (chowkidaar) find him and persuade him to open the door. It’s not that difficult as I found out, the difficult part is to locate the guard on duty inside this massive Mehrauli Archaeological Park as he keep taking round from one monument to the other. One can’t even imagine how grand the interiors of the tiny tomb structure could be lying among the nearby ruins of Balban’s tomb and a not so heavily ornamented Mosque adjacent to it.
Interior Decor of Tomb of Jamali Kamali
The interior of the Jamali Kamali Tomb is a work of art in itself. Stepping inside is actually like stepping into a jewel box. The modest and simple looking square tomb without any dome is exquisitely ornamented from the inside. Two marble graves inside belong to Jamali and Kamali and one could only marvel at the ornate stuccowork, intricate calligraphy creating a sense of awe for the exquisite interior décor. Some of Jamali’s verses are inscribed just underneath the stunningly inlaid colored tiles and some text from the Koran is also inscribed on the walls.
Why Should you Visit
A visit to Jamali Kamali is a must thing to do if you are interested in history heritage and architecture of Delhi. Even if you are a casual traveler, visit to Mehrauli Archaeological Park is a fulfilling experience with its serene ambience, pastoral setting and an array of monuments (some of which are in very good shape indeed). The photo ops are many when you are visiting this place. Most notable structures inside are Rajon ki Baoli, a Lodi period stepwell; Balban’s Tomb, Gandhak ki Baoli, Quli Khan ka Maqbara which was later converted by Metcalfe into his Dil Kusha and some of the Metcalfe’s Folly (additional structures erected by Thomas Metcalfe including canopies, chhatris and a ziggurat).
How to get There
Getting there is easy. You can take Delhi Metro and disembark at Qutub Minar Station or just drive inside the park if you have your own vehicle. Four wheelers could drive as far inside as Jamali Kamali Mosque. One can also park inside Qutub Minar Parking and there’s a entrance near Qutub Restaurant from where the Metcalfe’s Ziggurat is visible from where visitors could gain entrance on foot. There are no entry tickets for the park.