City of Tombs

Barakhamba

If you roam around Delhi, you can get a sense of how people loved their after life. May be it was their relatives who wanted them to be remembered. Many of the monuments here are tombs. And though Humayun’s tomb is the largest and most beautiful of it all, the ‘parampara’ did not start with Mughals. It was prevalent much before – Feroz Shah Tughlaq being one of the examples.

May be the rulers at that time had not imagined that space would be such scarce in few hundred years. They designed the resting places of their ancestors/relatives as colossal and peaceful places. Standing alone and visible from a distance, they look like an imposing figure in their old ‘black and white’ photos taken a few hundred years ago. Today they jostle for space. Many of them are nestled among the modern markets, hidden by the trees, ignored and visited by people interested in sleeping under the cool tree shades.

These shades along with neatly pruned green grass was what pulled me too, towards two such monuments in Hauz khas as I, tired after walking a lot, passed by them. There is no recorded history of these places. Barakhamba is nowhere near the barakhamba road and simply called because there are 12 pillars in the structure. The dadi poti tomb does not get its name from a granddaughter and her grandmother buried there. It is more linked to the size of the tombs. As you can get an idea from random names, no one knows who is buried here and they even belong to different eras (Dadi – Lodhi and Poti – Tughlaq). They have been taken by the Archaeology survey team for improvements and now they look like Aishwarya Rai – beautiful but artificial.

Lodhi Gardens

Lodhi Gardens, I found on a recent visit is divided into three areas. These distinctions are around the main monuments at these gardens – the Sikander Tomb, Bada and Sheesh Gumbad and Mohamamed Shah’s tomb. The first one – Sikander Tomb is a shady place isolated by the remains of a watercourse, which once connected to the Yamuna but now acts as a boundary to this area. The seclusion along with the numerous crevices among the ruins help the couples who want privacy in the center of Delhi.

Bada Gumbad

The scene across the “Khairpur ka Pul” over the watercourse is completely different. The couples give way to families and large groups of people here. The huge green expanse under the shadow of two imposing structures – Bada Gumbad and Shish Gumbad is seemingly a famous picnic spot. There are hundreds of people, all of them carrying food baskets and sheets to sit on and enjoy the sun. Many of the groups have bats and balls and the adults are re-living their younger days by hijacking a game which their children started. In one corner, a group of oldies are sitting, heavily dressed while some sweating youngsters in their track suits jog around on the track.

The Mosque besides the Bada Gumbad in a sorry condition

The monuments themselves are in a similar state as some of the other ones in Delhi – dilapidated both from outside as well as inside (though the restoration work has supposedly started in 2009). They are tombs from the Lodhi period (the ones before Mughals arrived). The first look at the monument, however reminds you of the Khushwant Singh’s words that the dome of the Bada Gumbad looks like a woman’s bosom. Well, use your imagination.

Does it?

Another small, artificial and most probably this century bridge takes you to the third section of the Gardens. It is the Mohammed Shah’s tomb. The architecture is distinctly different here. It is an octagonal structure (whereas the others are square). Though there are many graves inside the monuments, the major one is considered to be of Mohammad Shah (last of Sayyid Dynasty rulers. Lodhi’s followed them)

Mohammed Shah’s Tomb

One benefit of the location of the gardens is the nearness to the Khan Market. So after you have had a nice long walk, you can always go try out the variety of delicacies on offer there. Or may be vice versa.

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