Around 15 km from the Qutub Complex in Mehrauli is a road in Old Delhi’s Sadar Bazar popularly known as Qutab Road, which was part of a stretch that once connected Shahjahanabad to Mehrauli.
The old city of Shahjahanabad — the 17th Century Mughal capital under Emperor Shah Jahan — lies to the west of the present day Qutab Road. According to INTACH convenor Dr Swapna Liddle, before the creation of New Delhi in the 20th Century, this was part of a long and frequently plied road extending to Mehrauli, which was the first capital of the Delhi Sultanate under the 13th Century Mamluk dynasty’s founder Qutb-ud-din Aibak.
“After New Delhi came up, there was a slight change in the alignment of the road with the addition of Connaught Place. As it exists today, the road moves southwards and becomes Chelmsford Road. It meets at Connaught Place and moves down to Janpath and later Aurobindo Marg before eventually leading to the Qutub Complex,” said Dr Liddle.
Historian Sohail Hashmi said that he remembers a time when Aurobindo Marg was also known as Qutab Marg. “When I was in college, some deep sewer work was carried out in central Delhi’s Shahjahan Road, which led to the discovery of a medieval road running parallel to it,” Hashmi said.
He added that close to this medieval road, there probably flowed a perennial stream — a tributary of the Yamuna — which flowed through Lodhi Garden to where Dyal Singh College is currently located.
According to Dr Liddle, while the route of the old road took on more modern names over the years like Chelmsford Road, Janpath and Aurobindo Marg, the section in Old Delhi continues to be popularly known as Qutab Road — even though its name too has officially been changed to Babu Ram Solanki Marg.
“This road would have seen a lot of traffic until the 18th and 19th Centuries. A lot of people living in Old Delhi had second homes in Mehrauli, and they would move there during monsoon and when diseases would break out in the city,” she said.