This year began with a pleasant heritage walk at the Lodi Garden. When the British decided to build a new capital at Delhi, the Lodi tombs at the village of Khairpur became part of the New Delhi area. This is when a garden was planned around these tombs and the Lady Willingdon Park was created. Lodi Garden is a post-Independence name. The village was removed and the garden was landscaped in such a way that the monuments stood out as singular objects of beauty. The first stop on our heritage walk was the tomb of Sayyid ruler Mohammad Shah. This tomb is similar to his predecessor’s tomb in Kotla Mubarakpur & Isa Khan’s tomb in Humayun’s tomb complex. An octagonal building with three arched openings on each side, with sloping buttresses at each corner. The interior is decorated with incised plaster work which depicts calligraphy and arabesque. Right next to the tomb is ‘Buddha’s Coconut’ the tallest tree in the Lodi Garden which is a native of rain forests in north east & south India. It is also a favoured roost with the vultures.
Walking around the park, through the butterfly conservatory & some remains of grave platforms, we made our way to the Bada Gumbad complex. Literally, the ‘big dome’ this is a gateway, a tomb, a mosque and some rooms which constitute a single complex. The most attractive feature of the Bada Gumbad is the plaster decoration on the mosque. It is an exceptional decorative work and was the highlight of our heritage walk. Right opposite stands the ‘mirrored dome’ or the Shish Gumbad: a tomb that gets its name from the band of blue tiles decorating its façade.
The next stop on our heritage trail was Sikander Lodi’s tomb. Looking like a small fortress, the tomb is one of the early examples of garden tombs in Delhi.The interior is decorated with tile work in blue, green and yellow. The path around the tomb leads around the lake to the Athpula, the Mughal period bridge. It was built over a natural stream which no longer exists and is replaced by the lake. There are a couple of smaller structures further down the path. Recently restored & illuminated before the Commonwealth Games, these are a garden pavilion & a small mosque. The last stop on our heritage walk was a turret which now stands alone, almost hidden away. It might have been once part of a enclosure wall, of which no remains exist.
(posted by Kanika Singh & photos by Awadhesh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)