City Monument – Anonymous Ruin, Mehrauli
A sad beauty.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is there. And it is not there. This collapsed edifice in Mehrauli is the very essence of Delhi. Nobody seems to know its name. Most of it is lost to time and yet the remains are evocative enough to ship us into the past.
The monument essentially is left with a doorway, an arch, two tiny domes and a wall crisscrossed with cracks. It is sandwiched between modern buildings and looks very fragile. Surely, a builder might soon demolish it to raise one more apartment block. That inevitability makes you want to embrace the monument and weep.
The ruin stands on a raised ground that is littered with plastic garbage, huge chunks of stones and fallen branches of a giant tree. These stones, in fact, look like parts of this fallen monument.
What was it? Who built it? It could be a late Mughal-era structure, for this part of Mehrauli has many monuments of that time. A boy on the adjacent street helpfully tells me that this was a mosque. He then walks back into his home, the balcony of which faces the ruin. Suddenly, those concrete blocks begin to look less invasive–they might one day swallow the whole of this history but, at least, they are filled with life. Still, this ruin should be allowed to live. It gives our city its melancholic beauty.