Zafar Mahal, in South Delhi’s Mehrauli, is considered the last monumental structure built as a summer palace during the fading years of the Mughal era. The palace has a forlorn history because Bahadur Shah Zafar, who wished to be buried in the precincts of the space, was deported by the British to Rangoon, where he died of old age. But as long as he remained in India, the last Mughal would visit this palace for hunting during the monsoon season, and enjoy its lush green beauty and mango orchards.
Reviving this Mughal-era tradition of visiting Mehrauli during the monsoon season, the Delhi government’s tourism department has organised a three-day cultural festival at the palace, beginning on Friday. Besides the sounds of malhaars and kajris that will resonate in the palace and, whiff of monsoon-specific cuisine such as pakodas and ghewar, the festival is also aimed at giving a push to the Mehrauli Archaeological Park as a tourist destination. The festival will be spread over three venues — Jahaz Mahal (pictured), Aam Bagh and Jharna — starting at 2pm everyday and going on till about 8pm. A series of activities, ranging from melas at Aam Bagh to heritage walks around Hauz-e-Shamsi, a 13th-century water body, have been planned.
There will also be dastaans, qawwali and dance performances. While the celebrated Qutbi brothers will give a qawwali performance against the backdrop of Jahaz Mahal on the inaugural day, the audience can also witness a Kathak recital by Rani Khanam (pictured) and her group. The second day will open with a folk performance by musicians from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Hindustani classical musicians Kashish Mittal and Shashwati Mandal regaling the audiences, and a ghazal fusion act later in the day. On Sunday, after a Haryanvi folk act, the festival concludes with a late evening concert by Bollywood singer Javed Ali.
Spread over 200 acres in Mehrauli, the park houses over 100 heritage structures. While some of them date back to the 10th century, others such as Metcalfe House were built during the British era. Officials say the place was selected for its historical significance: it’s the only place in Delhi that has witnessed over 1,000 years of continuous habitation.
Entry free on all days. More details at https://www.facebook.com/events/970876716585591/