Walking through Lodi Garden is always a pleasant experience and this Saturday, a small group of enthusiasts undertook a heritage walk in this park. The beauty of the garden is enhanced by the imposing monuments in a pleasant winter afternoon. The name ‘Lodi Garden’ is due to the fact that the most prominent of these monuments were built during the times of the Lodi Sultans. The garden is in fact a creation of the British, when they were building their new capital of Delhi. It was originally called Lady Willingdon Park. Its current name was given post Independence when it was re-landscaped under Joseph Allen Stein. Stein also designed some of the important buildings in the neighbourhood: the IIC, the Ford Foundation are the most well known.
If one enters from gate no. 1 of the Garden, one can see a tall imposing building straight ahead. We took a detour towards the left and began our heritage trial from Muhammad Shah Sayyid’s tomb. This is a royal tomb dated to mid 15th century. It stands on an elevation which is surrounding by palm trees all around, all together giving an extremely pleasing effect. Taking the path around the butterfly conservatory, we reach the center of Lodi Garden, with Bada Gumbad and Shish Gumbad standing tall. Bada Gumbad, literally ‘large dome’ is a very large gateway to a complex which consists of a beautiful mosque, a central grave platform and hall used for assembly or prayers. The complex is dated to end of 15th century. ‘Shish’ is mirror and ‘gumbad’ is dome, so this tomb probably gets its name from the band of blue tiles on the façade which would shine like a mirror. Further north, beyond the artificial lake is Sikander Lodi’s tomb. It is one of the early garden tombs in North India and the enclosure walls here are almost like a fortification for this warrior-king. The interior of the tomb is decorated with tiles in blue, green and yellow. The garden as is is maintained today does not give us an idea of how it might have been originally. At the end of the lake is Athpula, also known as Khairpur ka pul. Athpula is a lesser known cousin of the Barahpullah which was in news recently for CWG road. The eight piers which support the arches of this bridge have in all probability led to its being called Athpula. It was built in the 16th century by a nobleman who worked under Mughal emperor Akbar. Further ahead are two late Mughal structures which have recently undergone conservation work. One is a double-storey structure which was once an entrance to a garden. The entrance arch has traces of floral designs painted on the plaster. Adjacent to it is a mosque. If you are here around dusk, these monuments are illuminated and are beautiful to look at. The last stop on the walk was a stand-alone turret which would have been part of some kind of enclosure wall.
(posted by Kanika Singh & Pushpa, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)