Delhi 101: #14 Lodi Gardens – Say Hello to the Pashtuns Resting in Peace

The Sheesh Gumbad at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi
The Sheesh Gumbad at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi

Cows are no longer allowed to graze in Lodi Gardens but it was their domain until 1936. Lady Willingdon, wife of the then British Viceroy to India, wanted her own Regent’s Park to walk in. And the village of Khairpur was thus moved (no one knows where to) to make way for the 90 acre gardens. And christened, what else, Lady Willingdon Park till it was renamed after Independence. It underwent another major landscaping in 1968 by J. A. Stein and Garrett Eckbo.

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

But there is much more history to this area than this. It serves as the final resting place for some of the Sayyids and Lodis, Pashtun rulers who controlled much of Northern India in 15th-16th centuries A.D. These include the tombs of Muhammad Shah Sayyid, the last of the Sayyid dynasty rulers, built in 1444 and of Sikandar Lodi, built in 1517.

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BADA GUMBAD

Meaning Big Dome, Big D here is possibly a tomb with a mosque on the west, and a pavilion to the east. The prayer hall of the mosque makes for an impromptu calligraphy lesson with its beautiful inscriptions. It has minarets resembling the Qutab Minar.

SHEESH GUMBAD

The Sheesh Gumbad meaning Glass Dome, is located right across from the Bada Gumbad. This one doesn’t have a mosque but a Mehrab on the inner western wall – you will be facing the Kabba in Mecca when you pray against it.

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THE MYSTERIOUS TURRET

This lone tower suffers from an identity crisis; nothing has been deciphered about it. It probably pre-dates other buildings in the gardens. There may have been a wall here and the Turret could have been one of its corners. You may notice it is shaped a bit like the Qutab Minar, although much smaller.

THE REMAINS OF ATHPULA

A beautiful bridge believed to have been built during Mughal ruler Abu’l Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar’s time (You should hear his father’s name!). It has eight (aath means eight) piers and thus the name.

These old buildings offer interesting acoustics – you might want to role-play a bard, in the throes of a spasm of creativity. Be mindful that these are protected monuments – don’t shatter anything with your singing.

Metro: Khan Market, but a 15 – 20 minutes walk from there

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The Remains of Athpula at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi
The Remains of Athpula at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi

Mohammed Shah's Tomb at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi
Mohammed Shah's Tomb at Lodi Gardens, New Delhi

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