Mehrauli, lying on the south-west of Delhi is one of the most important group of villages which developed around the shrine of the Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, popularly known as Qutb Sahib. He was born in Central Asia but came to India during the reign of Iltutmish as a disciple of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. The settlement of Mehrauli has evolved over several centuries, each layer leaving an imprint of its own in the development of the village. Probably the oldest area of Delhi to have been continuously inhabited, the Mehrauli village is adjacent to the site of the fortified city of Tomar Rajputs, Lal Kot, founded in ad 1060. In the subsequent centuries the population of Mehrauli expanded to spread across the area outside the walls of the fortification. Lal Kot functioned as the capital city for more than two centuries; but even after the centre of political power moved elsewhere Mehrauli continued to flourish.
It is today one of the hundred odd traditional settlements or ‘urban villages’ within the city of Delhi. The outer limits of the village were defined by an imaginary line called the ‘Lal Dora’ to protect the existing resources like cultivation lands, orchards, wood, and settlement as determined in 1980–89.
Today, the settlement is a culturally rich area consisting of several historic structures dating from the Rajput, Sultanate, Mughal, and colonial periods. These include mosques, the shrine or dargah of Qutb Sahib, tombs, temples, etc. In addition to this the market spine is lined with secular buildings of the late Mughal period while the village has its own traditional local architecture. The central spine divides the village into two parts. The eastern side consists of the dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and the palace remains of Zafar Mahal, the other side consisting primarily of the oldest residential cluster of the ‘urban village’. During the festival of Urs, commemorating the death anniversary of the Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, the shrine as well as the historic Auliya Masjid become sites of pilgrimage. Even at other times the shrine receives many devotees, particularly pilgrims on their way back from the shrine of Ajmer Sharif come to offer prayer at the dargah.
The village is also the setting for the annual festival of Sair-e-Gulfaroshan or the Phoolwalon ki Sair, focused on the dargah and the temple of Yogmaya nearby.