One dreamy ruin that you must visit with your lover is Metcalfe’s Folly in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, a dense jumble of trees, graves, and domes in south Delhi.
On the peak of a grassy mound stands a stone canopy built in the 1850s by Charles Metcalfe, a British Indophile, as a ‘folly’. The folly was a very British thing, a new building meant to look like old and to be viewed in a picturesque landscape.
By itself, Metcalfe’s hexagonal structure is unremarkable. The columns are minimally carved; the semi-circular arches are not ornamental, the surface is cobbled. It is the folly’s lighthouse setting — commanding a view of the towering Qutub Minar, the lovely Jamali Kamali mosque and the rolling greenscape — that fills your senses with passion.
Arousing special, clandestine, buried sentiments, the seemingly insignificant ruins have great emotional potential. The softened stones, the abandoned state, the raw elements work together to cloak you with a sudden rush of feeling. Images from your past, voices of lost friends, and other awakened memories contribute to the ruin’s effect on you. It is tough to figure out why you have been so moved by an old decrepit structure. There is a reason why most people never say, “I like that ruin.” It’s always, “I love that ruin.”
The afternoon hours are the best time to visit the folly, especially if you are planning a date. There are very few people around this hour; being solitude-seekers, they won’t bother you. There is an orange coloured bench just below the folly, and unknown tombs towards the Jama Kamali mosque on which squirrels play their catch-me-if-you-can game. The most inviting is the slope’s trimmed grass. You may be tempted to lie down and kiss your lover’s lips, or continue with the unreadable Marcel Proust or listen to Kishore Kumar songs on your iPod.
Sometimes, the slope is invaded by grazing cows. Watching the crows coming to sit on their humps, you may wonder, “God, am I really in Delhi?” One charm of urban havens, which a jungle resort lacks, is to experience the petrol-powered din of a city being tuned into a comforting hum. Metcalfe’s Folly looks to the wild but the continuous roar of the flying planes makes it clear that an airport is nearby. The highway is a stone’s throw away. Don’t despair. The rumble of a DTC bus has a place here as vital as that of bird sounds. After emerging into the Mehrauli-Gurgaon highway, you will love the city more. Promise.
Metro Stop: Mehrauli
Time: Sunrise to sunset