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Growing up in Green Park in south Delhi, my friends and I spent a large part of our summer holidays skipping in and out of the many monuments that dot the area. We would cycle down the road near Aurobindo Place Market and along just that one road leading up to Hauz Khas Village, we had access to five monuments, then some more within Deer Park, and even a chance to explore two smaller monuments near Green Park market.

Invisible City—The Hidden Monuments of Delhi: By Rakhshanda Jalil, photographs by Prabhas Roy, Niyogi Books, 342 pages, 795.

“There are so many beautiful old buildings in Delhi, but there is very little information about these places," says Jalil, who used Delhi: The Built Heritage—the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (Intach’s) two-volume listing of Delhi’s monuments—for her bare-bones research. She also relied on Asarus Sanadeed by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Monuments of Delhi by Maulvi Zafar Hasan. “Both these books have information translated from Urdu and Persian from many of these monuments," says Jalil. She also looked through Steven Carr’s The Archaeology and Monumental Remains of Delhi.

Jalil picks five places she thinks make for a great journey of discovering Delhi through its not-so-well-known neighbourhood monuments.


Exquisitely preserved: (left) Tile work inside the Jamali Kamali tomb; and a view of the monument in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Courtesy Invisible City

From a small gate to the north, there is an entry into the funerary enclosure where a square tomb houses two small graves. The ceiling is covered with exquisite stucco in blue, green and white and a border of blue tiles runs on the outer walls.

Find it: Between Delhi and Gurgaon on the Mehrauli-Mahipalpur road

Why it makes it to Jalil’s list: Unusually well-preserved, with a beautiful surrounding ambience.


Simplicity of style: Sunderwala Mahal, near Sunder Nursery.

Find it: Near Sunder Nagar Nursery, off Mathura Road

Why it makes it to Jalil’s list: Exploring this area is tantamount to taking a short heritage walk.


Intricate work: Atgah Khan’s tomb in Nizamuddin West.

Atgah Khan’s tomb, built by his son Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, is a handsome red and white structure, with elaborate detailing in red sandstone and white marble interspersed with tiles. The four walls have deeply recessed arches with lattice stone screens. You will also find the tombs of Amir Khusrau, Mirza Ghalib and princess Jahanara nearby.

Find it: In Nizamuddin West

Why it makes it to Jalil’s list: The delicate red and white stonework looks beautiful.


Perfect proportions: Qila-e-Kuhna Masjid, Purana Qila

Find it: Inside Purana Qila, next to Delhi Zoo, Mathura Road

Why it makes it to Jalil’s list: Different building materials have been used well together.


In ruin: Bara Batashewala Mahal.

Find it: Inside the Bharatiyam Complex, towards the Boys’ Scout Camp, facing the Humayan’s Tomb parking

Why it makes it to Jalil’s list: Because the guards will stop you. These are public monuments and we should all be allowed to see these hidden gems.

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