Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lodi Garden

Established in the 15th-16th century by the Sayyids and Lodis, the vast grounds of Lodi Garden are famous among the joggers of the Delhi city of India. Carefully kept gardens and the medieval monuments lend a charm to these gardens. In 1968, J.A Stein and Garrett Eckbo re-landscaped these gardens giving them their present beautified form. The several tombs situated in the garden belong to the Lodi and Sayyid Era and include Muhammad Shah's Tomb and Sikander Lodi's tomb. Muhammad Shah (1434 - 44) was the third ruler of Sayyid dynasty.

His tomb has been built in a typical octagonal pattern with a central octagonal chamber, verandahs, three arched openings on each side and sloping buttress. Inspired by Mubarak Shah's tomb, this tomb has a more compact plan, high dome, matching chhatris and better proportions. Apart from this, there are other tombs, namely Bara Gumbad and Sheesh Gumbad. Bara Gumbad or the Big Dome is a square tomb with an imposing dome. Its facades appear to be two storied.

It has turrets on corners, arches, stuccowork and painting ornamenting the interiors. It is believed that the tomb belongs to an officer of high rank who served Sikandar Lodi. Besides the tomb, there is the Bara-Gumbad mosque, built with ashlar stone. Its rectangular prayer-hall has five arched openings and is a fine example of the early Mughal mosques. The tapering minarets, built in the Tughluq style, colored tiles and Quranic inscriptions ornament this mosque. Built in 1494, this mosque was constructed during the reign of Sikandar Lodi.
Shish Gumbad tomb is built in the usual square pattern, with a 'double-storied' appearance, and looks much like Bara Gumbad. Its ceiling has incised plasterwork, with floral patterns and Quranic inscriptions. One can still see the traces of the blue tiles that once adorned it and gave it the name of 'Glazed dome'. There are several graves inside it. Sikandar Lodi's Tomb is built in the octagonal tomb pattern, much like Muhammad Shah's tomb. The chhatris over its roof are no more to be seen.

Another interesting construction here is the 'Athpula' Bridge. It was built by Nawab Bahadur in the 16th century, during Akbar's reign. This is bridge is called Athpula (eight bridge), as it rests on eight piers, forming seven arches. Besides these tombs, one can also visit the National Bonsai Park developed here, which has a delightful collection of miniature versions of several trees and plants. They look beautiful at sunset under soft light. Originally known as the Lady Willingdon Park, it was renamed Lodi Garden after Indian Independence in 1947.

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