Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Delhi – The Tombs, Part 2 Lodi Gardens and tombs and Jamali Kamali

My favourite park in Delhi for a walk and some time with a good book was Lodi Gardens. The gardens were within wlaking distance of my hotel in 2001 but were a 30 minute car ride away in 2004.

The northern entrance on Man Singh road is via the Athpula Bridge built over a small tributary of the Jumana in the 16th Century by Nawab Bahadur, a nobleman at Akbar's court. The gardens were created in the 1930's and are arranged around a number of tombs and a mosque from the pre-Mughal period when the Lodi and Sayyid dynasties ruled northern India.

The tombs are late 15th and earlly 16th century.

At the northern end of the gardens and effectively separated from the other tombs is the tomb of Sikandar Lodi (ruled `489 to 1517) which lies within a large walled garden with its own gatehouse.

The tomb is octagonal with the central chamber surrounded by a verandah of arches with carved sandstone brackets.

The decoration of the tomb chamber is fairly well preserved with glazed tiles and painted stucco work.

The West wall contains a "wall mosque" in the gardens.

The gardens are a popular refuge for local birds as well as Delhi-wallahs.

Tip for visitors - a guide to the buildings and the trees planted in the gardens can be obtained from the shop in the Taj Mahal Hotel that is on Man Singh Road near the north entrance.

The gardens include a separate traditional Mughal style walled rose garden that has two small pavilions.

Almost certainly due to the large numbers of weekend picnic outings the park squirrels are happy to get very close to visitors to the gardens.

The Shish Gumbad or "Glass Dome" is a late 15th Century tomb for a number of relatively minor graves believed to be the pre-eminent courtiers from Sikandar Lodi's reign.

Some of the external turquoise and cobalt blue tiling (that gave the tomb its name) remain on the facade.

The Bara Gumbad or "Big Dome" also stands on a raised platform alongside a mosque and a small pavilion. there is no cenotaph or grave here so it is not clear if this is a burial dome or a rather grand "gatehouse" for the mosque.

The Big Dome has a three domed mosque that was built in 1494 with the pavililion opposite and a tank in the courtyard that was later filled and now contains an unidentified grave.

The interior of the mosque is quite magnificent in terms of its condition and has passages from the Koran carved into the stonework.

At the southern end of the gardens is the tomb of Muhammad Shah, the third Sayyid (Slave dynasty) ruler of Delhi (1434-1444).

The tomb stands on a raised platform with the cenotaph of Muhammad Shah in the middle of the central octagonal chamber.

There is a verandah of arches around the central chamber with carved stonework columns and some fine stucco work decoration to the ceiling area.

There are several other graves in the chamber, presumably of wives and courtiers although there is no attribution at the site.

The central decoration of the ceiling is especially well preserved.

Lodi garden photo collection:

More on Lodi Gardens:

Just off the Mehrauli road heading south from the Qut'b Minar is a small complex of tombs and a mosque belonging to Balban and Jamali Kamali.

Balban's tomb is a rubble built square structure that is in poor condition but is significant for having the earliest examples of true arches having been built in the 13th Century. Balban was the last Sultan of the Slave dynasty and died in 1287. Nearby is the grave of Balban's son Khan Shahid who was killed fighting the Mongols in 1285.

The Jamali Kamali mosque and tombs were constructed in 1528-1529 in an enclosed garden area. The mosque has one entrance from the south and is constructed in red sandstone with marble inlay. There is a large courtyard and the prayer hall has five arches with a dome above the central arch.

The size of the arches increases towards the centre and are decorated with some beautiful ornamentation.

The central arch has fluted pilasters and the prayer wall beyond has a number of niches in addition to the mihrab. The niches and walls are decorated with inscriptions from the Koran.

Shaikh Jamali Kamboh (or Jalal Khan) was a renowned Sufi Saint and poet who lived during the Lodi period. Little is known of kamali other than that he was closely associated with Jamali.

The tomb is a square structurewith a flat roof and is impressively decorated with glazed tiling.

The interior is impressive with blue and red paintwork and incriptions from the Koran. There are also inlaid coloured tiles inscribed with Jamali's poems.

Jamali Kamali and Babur tomb photo collection:

More on the Jamali Kamali:

Mehrauli village on the road south out of Delhi is home to the Bhul Bhulyaian meaning labyrinth which describes the layout of the tomb. This is the tomb of Adham Khan, foster brother to the Emperor Akbar. He was put to death by Akbar for the murder of his chief minister in the palace at Agra.

Khan reputedly was thrown from the walls of the Agra Red Fort to his death, although the first effort failed to finish him and he had to be dragged up and thrown down a second time!

From its vantage point on a small hill there is a magnificent view of the Qut'b Minar.

Bhul Bhuliyan photos: