Living and studying in JNU has its advantages. Besides the academics, one can benefit from the sprawling campus placed ideally near the Aravali ridge on one side and Sanjay Van on the other side. During my stay there in the early nineties, I used to often wander off into Sanjay Van outside the eastern edge of the campus. And it is during one of these peregrinations that I stumbled upon some ancient rocks that seemed to have been arranged in an organised manner. It seemed like a wall to me. And it seemed to extend all the way to Qutb Minar that I could see in the distance.
Barely out of my teens, I was excited at my startling discovery and started to wonder at the origins of this seemingly medieval wall. I had scant knowledge of history or architecture in those days. However I was guessing whether this was the famous Qila Rai Pithora where Prithviraj Chauhan had ruled? I went back to the JNU library and tried to do some research on this subject. Yes, we did research in those days, there was no internet! And I did find out that this was indeed the place that was founded by the Tomar Rajputs who preceded the Chauhan Rajputs. Unfortunately, I did not get back there for a very long time… until recently.
More than two decades had passed. And I found myself suddenly in the company of a Russian gentleman, George V Melnikov, a person of extraordinary knowledge of Indian medieval history, who expertly guided me back to this place from a completely unknown access, from the other side, near the Mehrauli Archeological Park.
How he found this hidden entrance is a story best told by him. I was very fortunate to return to this lost site and to be doing this amazing heritage walk with people who not only loved India but were also avid learners of its history and culture.
It was a chilly Saturday morning in February when I undertook this archaeological heritage walk and we scaled the walls of the erstwhile Lal Kot, or the Red Fortress which became Qila Rai Pithora later, a millennium old structure, mostly in ruins; however the walls, mostly intact despite the seemingly rudimentary construction and the amazing bastions that have stood the test of time, showing the resilience that made the Rajputs so legendary.
The fort walls may seem rudimentary in nature. But it is evident that they were very cleverly constructed to be genuinely protective in nature. Green grass and much vegetation have grown on them since. However, the charm of walking on the ramparts and the excitement of rediscovering this lost bastion of resistance on that Saturday morning will remain etched in my memory. And there is still plenty left to discover. Delhi is more steeped in history than one can imagine.
Thank you George V. Melnikov for the walk.
Want to do such tours? Please contact our travel partner at Maavalan.