Deer Park is located in South Delhi’s urban village named Hauz Khas. Even though the urban village attracts a lot of attention of the young elite, Deer Park seems to be a place remembered only by kids playing sports or couples trying to escape from the eyes of the world.

The park walks right next to the Hauz Khas fort and lake which are always bustling with activity and life. The fort is always filled with the selfie-clicking set of youngsters and a couple of tourists trying to capture the beauty of the lake. Whereas the historical monuments in and around Deer park are ignored and neglected.

When you walk inside the park, you will encounter a beautiful canopy of trees over an area of 400 acres. This park lies in the area called the lungs of Delhi, survived by deer, peacocks, ducks, pigeons and other migratory birds.

As you stroll in the park, you will come across herds of Deer running around, looking for greens to eat. Along with horned and unhorned deer, the charm of the woods is enhanced by the presence of peacocks; they make the park come alive with their enticing colors and their sweet sounds.

Now, after looking at the flora and fauna of this biologically diverse pace, you will find a big tomb, with a plaque calling it a “protected monument” by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). Ironically, this red colored “protected” tomb has no sign that signifies its name. After some research, it is realized that the name of this historical monument is Tohfewala Gumbad.

The tomb dates back to Tughlaq era and emulates the structures of this period; it has unadorned, simple walls lacking ornamentation but the platitude is broken by the arches over all four entrances. There are four small squared holes just above the entrances and they form a plus. There are four well-preserved graves inside the tomb but the interiors are soiled by wrappers and garbage which diminish the beauty and significance of this “protected” monument.

Just a few hundred meters away lay Bagh-I-Alam ka Gumbad. The ornate Gumbad is shaded by the cover of leafless branchless trees that add to the charisma of this Lodi-era building. The tomb has three huge entrances, with the fourth wall acting as a mihrab- the wall indicating the direction of Mecca and the direction in which Muslims offer their prayers. The mihrab is characteristic of all the Lodi era structures.

The structure is made of locally quarried red and gray stones which are intricately placed together to create a stunning patchwork which shines in the ubiquity of the sun rays of this cold season. The exteriors give the semblance of a division of floors by the arched niches placed on three levels of the single chamber. The niches at the lower level act as windows and the ones above are filled with same red and gray stones.

The Gumbad, largest in the Deer Park, has become a site of wedding photography, where couples come with professional photographers who instruct them about different poses. You will find at least two-three pairs, on different walls of the Gumbad, trying to capture the beauty of the structure to highlight the beauty of their love.

A Wall Mosque, right next to the Gumbad, adorns the Bagh-I-Alam. The Qibla (wall mosque) had a courtyard for the devotees who came to worship. The Qibla has five arched niches set within larger rectangular indentations – the central of these niches is the largest both in terms of height and width. The length of the wall is marked by neat leaf motifs and smaller niches, probably to keep little lamps at night.

Two rows of graves are lined in the courtyard meant for prayer space. Both ends of the Qibla wall have towers which have entrances built through them; the towers are octagonal in shape. The walls are slightly blackened and flaky but in better condition than the other two monuments in the park.

On a Monday winter morning, strolling through the park, the tranquility of the woods is broken by a group of boys in their school uniform- screaming while playing a game of football or volleyball. Right next to them, stands Kali Gumti, justifying its name.

The Gumti’s origins are identified being of Lodi era as it stays in the middle of an apparent forest, old and neglected. The Gumti is disfigured by vandals and youths who have carved multicolored messages on the wall of this forgotten structure. The building also has three entrances, the third wall being a mihrab.

The plastering of the interior walls is almost gone and even the dome’s bricks are visible through the feeble paint. The roof of the gumti is embellished by Kanguras ( battlement-like ornamentation) and the look of the gumti is simply militaristic. On the outside, the whole structure is plain except for a slight rectangular embossment around the entrances.

The children’s park, adjacent to the gumti provides a splash of color and joy with the kids enjoying the swings and running around the park.

School kids playing in the park

The paucity of guards and caretakers have somewhat worn out these neglected monuments and they are not as famous as some other historical sites in the capital city. Most citizens of Delhi are unaware of the plethora of history and historical sites present in this part of the city, called the city of Siri.

Thus, the authorities lag behind in giving importance to these structures which are forgotten and are left hidden behind the foliage of over vegetation in this forest-like park. It is sad that the authorities have decided to pay attention to a handful of monuments in the city, with no concrete steps to conserve these “protected” monuments, as labeled by the ASI.

(Photographs By Richa Kohli)