To witness the unbeatable charm of lesser-known historical monuments of Delhi is undeniably the most amazing experience for history buffs and tourists. The beauty of these forgotten and faded-in-time monuments is that they fasten and bind one generation to another.
Dotted with centuries-old history and spectacular architectural marvels, the capital is marked as the favorite historical destination in India on the tourist map.
Out of an overwhelming number, we have handpicked the best historical monuments of the capital that must be on the bucket list of every travel enthusiast. Scroll down to learn about these hidden gems of Delhi.
Ala-i-Minar lies within the Qutub complex in Delhi. Estimated to be built around 1300 CE, Alai Minar is Alauddin Khilji’s incomplete grand monument that was his vanity project to mark the victory of his army who conquered many kingdoms across India within a short span of his reign. He was so proud of these glorious achievements that he became adamant to outdo Qutub Minar which was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak and was considered to be the tallest building of that era.
As the wealth poured in, he decided to build a massive monument that is double the size of Qutub Minar. However, this monument just remained a dream project as Khilji died in 1316 CE and the construction was stalled. Today all we see is just a rough-edged circular mass that has a story to say.
Also known as Bhool Bhullaiya, Adam Khan’s Tomb is the octagonal monument that lies behind the Qutub Complex. Adham Khan who was the son of Maham Anga, a wet nurse of Akbar, was a general in Akbar's army. He murdered Atgah Khan in 1561 who was Akbar’s favorite general and was the husband of Jiji Anga. This brutal act and betrayal of Adam Khan led to fury and Akbar ordered to throw him down from the ramparts of Agra Fort till he died.
Maham Agha died after the fortieth day of grieving and mourning her son’s death. The tomb was commissioned by Akbar in 1562 and both son and mother were buried in this tomb that has thick walls that enclose a maze of passageways. This grey sandstone and rubble masonry monument are believed to be cursed by Rani Roopmati whose lover Baz Bahadur was killed by Adam Khan.
Atgah Khan Tomb situated near the famous Sufi shrine, Nizamuddin Dargha in Nizamuddin Basti is one of the most magnificent mausoleums of the Mughal era that is made up of red sandstone and exquisite marble. Mirza Aziz Kolkaltash who was the son of Atgah Khan built the tomb in the memory of his father in 1566-67. The chief advisor and foster-father of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Shamsuddin Muhammad Atgah Khan was brutally murdered by Akbar’s foster brother, Adam Khan.
Distressed by the death of Atgah Khan, Akbar ordered the construction of a tomb for him right next to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin. Inside the medium-sized square tomb are the peacefully lying graves of Atgah Khan, his wife, and his daughter. Don’t forget to miss this beautiful architectural masterpiece when you visit Nizamuddin Dargha.
Located next to the Humayun Tomb's enclosure, Bara Batasha Tomb was commissioned in 1603 and was completed in 1604. This beautifully adorned tomb was made in the memory of Mirza Muzaffar Husain who is believed to be the son-in-law of Akbar and the great-nephew of Humayun.
Constructed in typical Mughal style, the tomb is a single storey monument that is 30 feet tall and has a square structure that is strikingly similar to the Jal Mahal and Humayun tomb. Also famous as the Bara Batashewala Mahal, it is one of its kind funerary complex that does not exist anywhere else in India. Bara Batasha is definitely a must-visit place in Delhi.
The Tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, the elaborated name to Balban’s Tomb is located in Mehrauli. This rubble masonry tomb that was built in 1287 CE is a significant historical monument of Delhi that boasts Indo-Islamic architecture. A ruined rectangular structure that is believed to be the grave of Khan Shahid who was Balban's son lies to the east of the tomb. Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was a Turkic ruler of the Mamluk dynasty which is also known as the Slave dynasty.
He ruled Delhi Sultanate from 1266 to 1287. His son, Khan Shahid, alias Muhammad died when he was fighting against the Mongols near Multan in 1285. The tomb where the first true arch made its appearance in India is also famous as it is surrounded by the innumerable relics of late-medieval settlement. This monument in Delhi is worth a visit for history buffs and photographers as it also offers the most remarkable view of the Qutub Minar.
Located in Connaught Place, Barakhamba Tomb is a handsome relic made of red sandstone that was supposed to be built during the reign of Sher Shah Suri somewhere between the 15 and 16th centuries. As the famous Barakhamba road is named after the tomb, it can be believed that this tomb served as a landmark of its time. The architectural facade of the tomb that has twelve immaculate pillars (that probably has been the reason behind its name) and artistic symmetry piques the attention of passersby.
Not much is known about this beautiful monument that sits in the heart of Delhi, however, this fourteenth-century edifice must be belonging to a significant nobleman who had much importance in his time.
Isa Khan's tomb is located at the entrance to Humayun’s Tomb in Nizamuddin. The tomb was built between 1547-1548 by Isa Khan himself. A few months later the construction of the magnificent octagonal tomb, Isa Khan died and his corpse was laid to rest. Isa Khan was the most trusted nobleman in the court of Sher Shah Suri. He helped Sher Shah Suri to establish his empire in Delhi by defeating Humayun in1540.
The emperor was happy with his wisdom and graced him with the title of Azm-e-Humayoon and also gave him the governorship of Multan. Sher Shah Suri died in 1545, however, Isa Khan continued to serve his son Islam Shah Suri. Exquisitely adorned with varnished tiles and ornated awnings, Isa Khan Tomb in the Humayun complex boasts lattice windows and expansive verandahs. This pre-Mughal style tomb is a must-visit monument in Delhi as it is one of the best sunken garden style tombs in India.
Located within the Qutub Minar complex, Mehrauli, Iltutmish Tomb is the mausoleum of Shams ud-Din Iltutmish who was the second Sultan of the Mamluk Dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. Iltutmish endured many hardships as a child as he was sold into slavery. He spent his early life in Bukhara and Ghazni under multiple masters. In the late 1190s, the Ghurid slave-commander Qutb al-Din Aibak purchased him in Delhi and during this time Iltutmish rose to prominence in Aibak's service.
Built-in the name of Iltutmish in 1235 A.D, this simple-looking tomb has a beautiful entrance that is intricately carved with geometrical and arabesque patterns. There are three prayer niches inside the tomb that are known as mihrabs. The white marble cenotaph is placed on a raised platform in the center of the chamber that is profusely decorated with motifs.
Built-in 1528 by Shaikh Fazl al-Allah, also known as Jamali, this tomb and mosque complex is housed in an enclosed garden that is situated in the Mehrauli village district. It is named after Jamali Kamali since both Jamali and Kamali were buried next to each other. Jamali was a highly regarded Sufi saint of the pre-Mughalera while not much is known about Kamali. He surely was closely associated with Jamali and it’s rumored that they were a gay couple who were passionately in love with each other.