Our walking tour in Lodi Garden is a story of an English garden & medieval tombs in it. It is interesting to see the transition of Bagh-i-jud to Lady Willingdon Park and finally to Lodi Garden, post 1947. There are massive monuments within the garden, well preserved and standing out as objects of beauty among beautifully landscaped parks.
The first stop on our heritage walk was the tomb of Mohd Shah Sayyid, of the Sayyid dynasty. It is surrounded by Royal Bottle palms. These trees are not native to the subcontinent, and were introduced as typical features of formal landscaping. Khizr Khan, the founder of Sayyid dynasty sat on the throne of Delhi Sultanate some time in may 1414. Three generations of Sayyids could only rule for only about 30 years & Mohd Shah was the third among these. His successor is said to have built this tomb for him. It is a very well proportioned building and has the best of Sayyid’s. The tomb has finials in stone and lotus pattern pinnacle over the dome.
Most buildings within the garden belong the reign of the Lodis, hence the park is named after them. When the fourth Sayyid ruler was ruling Delhi in the year 1447, Bahlol Lodi, an Afghan leader, took charge and forced the last king to abdicate the throne and retire and live in Badaun. The new rulers were the Lodi dynasty which came to the throne in Delhi from the year 1450. After the death of Bahlol, Sultan Sikander came to the power in 1489 AD. Bada Gumbad or Big Dome, one of the largest structures of Lodis in Delhi is centrally located in Lodi Garden. We saw the neatly cut ashlar stone placed on top of each other to construct the gateway of Big dome and the adjoining mosque on its right side. One of the inscriptions on the mosque tells us about the date of its construction and its builder (a nobleman during the reign of Sikandar Lodi). The assembly hall or guesthouse (we don’t know exact purpose) stands in front of the mosque, is quite plain and minimally ornate.
One of the beautifully decorated buildings of Lodi Dynasty, Shish Gumbad, stands across Bada Gumbad, among colourful flowering plants. Even though the restoration of the structure is done half heartedly, the tile work and calligraphic inscriptions tells us that the architecture and the construction activities were at its zenith during the reign of Sikandar Lodi.
Sikandar was the most famous of all the three Lodi kings. It is believed that he is also the founder of Agra in 1504 AD; he certainly had made Sikandra (town near Agra) his capital city. After his death in 1517, the control of Delhi came in the hands of his son Ibrahim Lodi, who is believed to have constructed the tomb of Sikandar Lodi in 1517-18. The tomb is a fortified building matches the formidable personality of Sikandar Lodi.
Ibrahim was not favourite among his chiefs; it was these two disgruntled Afghan chiefs, Daulat Khan and Dilawar Khan, who invited Babur, the Mughal king of Kabul to come to Delhi. Babur won the battle of Panipat and the Mughals came on the throne of Delhi to rule more than 300 years and added numerous buildings in Delhi. A few buildings made during the reign of later Mughals were part of Lodi Garden. These include Athpula, an eight pillared bridge, a congregation mosque & a pleasure pavilion in a rose garden. A step well too existed near the mosque but it has disappeared now. The Mughal rulers including Babur, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan & their successors were great naturalists and fond of gardens. The garden pattern typically followed by them was the four-fold enclosed garden or the char bagh. The plan today is not the original, but a result of multiple attempts at re-landscaping. We walked through the rose garden to our last spot, the flute like turret which looks rather lonely, tucked away in a corner. During commonwealth games, these buildings were restored & lighted up, which has remarkably improved their appearance.
(posted by Moby Zachariah & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)