Lodi Garden, nicknamed as ‘Mecca of lovers’ or ‘Joggers Paradise’, is a large green space which includes a considerable variety of monuments, exotic and indigenous trees , flowers, birds like woodpeckers, barbet, hoopoe, kingfisher etc. This area, according to records, was referred as Jod Bagh, now we have an area named Jor Bagh, just south of the garden. This area saw many changes and developments of Muslim rule, British period and post- independence era. Our heritage walk aimed at the learning about the monuments but it was important to start with an introduction on the garden and history of the complex, so that the visitors know the garden complex offers lot more other the monuments. This introduction also focused on the history of early Islamic dynasties and their style of constructing monuments. Apart from its beautiful ambience in the midst of natural stream and lush greenery, the nearby Sufi shrine of Sufi Saint Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya might have influenced the choice of location of the tombs of royalty. The first spot was one of the earliest structures in this complex, Tomb of Mohammad Shah, third ruler of a lesser known Muslim Dynasty, Sayyid dynasty. The monumental tomb was built by his son, Allauddin Alam Shah as a tribute to his father after his death. Sayyids ruled India for a short period of time; they were overthrown by Lodis in the 15th century, but they can’t be ignored completely. This octagonal monumental structure made up of quartzite stone with its high dome, arched verandah, and royal chhatris stands elegantly in the middle on a mound surrounded by exotic bottle palm trees. The complex was known for its royal burials, Structures like Bara Gumbad or big dome, the Bara Gumbad mosque and the assembly hall or Majlis Khana are graveless monuments built during the Sikandar Lodi’s time, the second ruler of Lodi dynasty. This dynamic ruler reigned for 27 years had always shown keen interest in literature and arts, constructing monuments so most of the monuments here belongs his period. Because we have more structures of Lodi period, the garden got its name, Lodi Gardens. During the British period, it was christened as Lady Willingdon Park. But it got its present name after independence. Bara Gumbad, a massive gateway, is entirely made up of quartzite stone with some detailing of black and white marble. One of the most beautiful structures is the three domed mosque, Bara Gumbad masjid. The lavish stucco work, intricate carving, Quranic calligraphy covers almost every surface. Opposite to the mosque, we can see an assembly hall, probably used by readers of the holy Quran. Not very far, another unique structure, Sheesh Gumbad or Glass or glazed dome, it got its name because of the turquoise and midnight coloured glazing tiles used for its construction. One can only see the traces of these tiles on the rims of the monument. There are very less historical evidences about the unknown family buried inside the structure. Interestingly, both Bara Gumbad and Sheesh Gumbad give a false impression of multiple storeys. The last royal tomb in the complex, Tomb of Sikander Lodi, a garden tomb, built by his son, Ibrahim Lodi in the 16th century stands in the middle of a fortified wall. The central structure similar to Mohammad Shah’s tomb, unlike the latter, this structure is surrounded by a less- complicated four- fold garden, Char Bagh and inside tile work decoration is different. This Persian garden style was more complicated and frequently used by Mughals who succeeded Lodis. The area also witnessed developments during Mughal period as we see Athpula, Eight pillared bridge of 16th century built during Emperor Akbar’s reign. The seven arched- bridge now flows on The bridge now stands above an artificial lake with fountains, water birds and fish built by British while re- landscaping the area. The two lesser known structures of late Mughal era, a mosque with three arched openings and gateway to the rose garden pavilion, is simple and less ornamented. It recently underwent restoration; these two structures are lit up now after the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The walk concluded at a small turret or tower, which was believed to be the part of an enclosure wall. For the visitors, other than the monuments garden offers a variety of things such as a National bonsai park, a butterfly conservatory and labeled trees and signage on birds of Lodi garden.
(posted by Moby Zachariah & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)