Tughlaq Dynasty to Mughal Period
(14th century - 16th century)

INTRODUCTION

Lodi Garden, located on Lodi Road between Safdurjung’s Tomb and Khan Market in south Delhi, covers an area of 90 acres and is dotted with beautiful monuments and tombs, belonging to the Sayyid, Lodi and Mughal dynasties.With its undulating walking paths and jogging tracks fringed with ancient trees, colorful shrubs and flowering plants, the garden’s historical past is evidence of how the city’s present encompasses within itself a rich past.

Till 1931, these tombs, mosques and other structures stood in what was then called the village of Khairpur, on the outskirts of New Delhi. In 1936, the villagers were moved from Khairpur and a garden was laid out with native and exotic trees and plants around the monuments. It was then called Lady  Willingdon Park, after the wife of the then British Viceroy. Post-Independence, it was more appropriately renamed Lodi Garden and was redesigned in 1968, by J.A. Stein, an eminent architect, who was also involved with many other buildings around the Lodi Garden complex. Some of the buildings are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and others by the State Department of Archaeology, Delhi.

Map of the Lodi Garden

Tomb of Muhammed Shah Sayyid

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Muhammed Shah belonged to the relatively short lived Sayyid dynasty which lasted from 1414-1451. One of the few architectural remains of this period is the tomb of the third Sayyid ruler, who ruled from 1435-1445.  It has some distinctive features of its time – an octagonal plan, corner buttresses, decorative plaster finish, corbelled doorways and chhatris on the roof.  The graves inside are those of Muhammed Shah and probably other members of his family.

The octagonal plan of the tomb.
The roof plan shows the chhatris placed to the center of each side.

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION

Incised plaster medallion with shahada inscribed - 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his Prophet'
Chhatris on the roof of the structure
Inverted lotus finial of the dome
Incised plaster work on the ceiling

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

A section through the tomb
Jharoka - corbelling used to create a circular base from which dome springs
Sloping buttressed columns at corners

Bada Gumbad Complex

LOCATION

The Bada Gumbad Complex is located in the central portion of the Lodi Garden and includes the Bada Gumbad, a Mosque and an arched pavilion known as the Mehman Khana. The area was developed as the 'Lady Willingdon Park' in 1931, as part of the city of New Delhi.

The Bada Gumbad, mosque (seen to the right) and arched pavilion facing the mosque

Bada Gumbad

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

This imposing building which is believed to be a gateway because of the absence of any grave, dates from the time of the Lodi dynasty (1451-1526 AD).The monument was constructed during the reign of Sikander Lodi, the son of Bahlol Lodi, who ruled for twenty-eight years from AD 1489-1517. His empire extended from Punjab to Bihar and he built his capital at Agra.

The Bada Gumbad set in the gardens

LAYOUT

'Bada Gumbad' literally means the building with a big (bada) dome (gumbad). Its entrance is accentuated by a flight of steps rising up to a height of approximately 4 m from the ground. Towering up to approximately 27 m and measuring 19 m x 19 m, this structure is one of the biggest and the finest examples of the Lodi-period monuments in Delhi.

The structure shares its plinth with a Mosque and a Mehman Khana (guest house), often also referred to as the arched pavilion.

All four sides of the structure are open and it differs in this respect from other monuments at the Lodi Garden in that the mihrab (the arch on the western wall which indicates the direction of prayer) is absent.

Plan showing the Bada Gumbad along with the Mosque and Mehman Khana
Elevation: The apparently double storey structure is actually a single chamber with a magnificent high ceiling. 

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION

Main entrance arch
Kangura pattern

Black marble has been used on the spandrels of the arches. The iwans contain the arched entrances with brackets on architraves. The brackets in red sandstone provide contrast and ornamentation on the massive structure.

The second image shows a decorative kangura or merlon pattern on the roof edge.

Kalash carving in red sandstone
Corbelled entrance door frame with a band of calligraphy. 

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

Section: The dome of the Bada Gumbad springs from a sixteen sided drum, each face relieved by nice shaped panels. The dome has a lotus cresting.
The squinch arch in the corner distributes the load from the eight sided drum to the four main walls of the structure. 

Mosque

This mosque, built at the same time as the adjoining Bada Gumbad, is a fine example of the decorative technique of incised and painted limestone plaster used in the Lodi period.  Other distinctive elements are the jharokhas and corner turrets reminiscent of the Qutub Minar. An inscription over the southern mihrab (the arch on the western wall which indicates the direction of prayer) dates it to 1494.  In the courtyard in front of the mosque is a mound of rubble which was probably a grave platform.

The five-bay mosque measures 25m by 64m. The three central bays are roofed with squat domes while the two end bays have vaulted roofs.

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION

Minarets at the corners of the outer walls remind one of the Qutub Minar
The main mihrab within the mosque
Dome with lotus crest and decorative kangura edging
Decorative incised plaster on the squinches
Inner face of the dome showing the plasterwork detail
Incised plasterwork on the arch above the entrance to the mosque

Mehman Khana

Facing the mosque is an arched pavilion that was used as a guest house or 'Mehman Khana'. The building has arched compartments and is similar in scale to the mosque, minus the domes and the ornamentation. The front facade has three large arched openings between the two smaller ones on the extreme left and right. Red sandstone has been used in the spandrels of the arches.

Elevation of the arched pavilion (Mehman Khana)
Typical interior of a guest room in the Mehman Khana
Archway with niches at the entrance to a guest room
Typical niche detail

Sheesh Gumbad

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Sheesh Gumbad (or 'glass dome', called so because the dome and parts of the facade were once covered with coloured glazed tiles), faces the Bada Gumbad. Home to several unidentified graves, it has been claimed to be the tomb of the first Lodi emperor Bahlol, who died in 1489.

LAYOUT

The Sheesh Gumbad has a square layout like the other Lodi tombs. It measures 17m on all sides, with a hidden staircase along its western wall that leads to the terrace above. Its western wall contains a mihrab, and the other three sides have three openings each - a central doorway flanked by two arched openings to admit light and air.

The central tomb chamber measures 10m on all sides and has several graves.

Plan of the Sheesh Gumbad

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION

Elevation of the Sheesh Gumbad

Architecturally, the Sheesh Gumbad follows the pattern of the other Lodi tombs with a 'double storeyed' appearance, but differs from them in its ornamentation. Topped by octagonal minarets in the corners, the exterior divides itself into two storeys with the help of a projecting horizontal cornice. One can see the remnants of the former elegance of the structure in the turquoise and cobalt blue tilework on the facade.

The top level shows a rough exterior, being originally covered with tiles; the lower level is made of neatly dressed stone
Octagonal minarets in the corners
A running band of blue tiles and a decorative kangura pattern above

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

The transition from a square plan to a circular dome is achieved by means of broad squinches supported on stone pendentives.
A section through the Sheesh Gumbad

Tomb of Sikandar Lodi

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Sikandar Lodi is known to be the second and the most significant ruler of the Lodi dynasty and ruled from 1489 to 1517. His tomb lies about 250m north of the Sheesh Gumbad.

LAYOUT: The tomb is entered through an elaborate gateway, complete with a raised forecourt to the south where two standing chhatris give the complex a distinct appearance. His tomb is set in a garden surrounded by an elaborate enclosure, about 76 metres square, with walls 3.5 metres high. 
The middle part of the western wall has been built so as to function as a wall mosque, with the qibla (direction of prayer) indicated through arches and a paved area in front. 

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION

The octagonal tomb is quite similar in appearance to Muhammed Shah's Tomb except for the missing chhatris on the roof. The upper portion of the dome is decorated with a distinct pattern in plaster and the corners of the sixteen sided drum base takes the shape of a pillar which then rises to form circular minarets.
Ruined chhatri with remains of tile work at entrance to the south of the enclosure

Above-left: Carved red sandstone decorative bracket on the doorway

Above-right: Kalash detail carved into the doorway

Red sandstone lamp niche
Tile decoration inside using mainly green and blue mineral pigments
Detail of the tile decoration
Section through the Tomb of Sikandar Lodi 

Athpula

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

This eight-pier bridge ('Ath' meaning 'eight') was built during Akbar's reign by Nawab Bahadur, to span a tributary of the Yamuna that probably met up with the Barahpula canal further south. The stream must have dried up at some point and part of it has now been replaced by a man-made reservoir.

This beautifully curving bridge built diagonally across the stream was originally known as  'Khairpur ka Pul' after the village of Khairpur in which it was located.

ELEVATIONAL DETAILS & ORNAMENTATION: A circular fluted pilaster in dressed stone, topped by an octagonal minaret, rises from the middle of each pier, which is made of irregular courses of dressed stones. The parapet, made of carved dressed stone, remains in reasonable shape.
Walkway level plan of Athpula
Pier level plan of Athpula
Elevation of Athpula

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS

Each of the eight piers supporting the seven arches of the bridge is nearly 2m in thickness. The central arch is the largest, and the others decrease in span from the center. The bridge spans a total length of 40m.

Other places of interest

WALL GATEWAY AND MOSQUE

This small complex built during the late Mughal period consists of a tri-arched entrance gateway (above left) and a small mosque (above right) enclosed within a small garden.

The double storeyed gateway was finely plastered over Lakhori brick masonry (a Lakhori brick was slightly thinner and longer than a regular brick), and topped with a brick vaulted roof.

The single chambered mosque is rectangular in plan and crowned with three brick domes, with a courtyard on its eastern side.

TURRET: Historians have reason to belive that this turret is perhaps the oldest structure in the Lodi Garden. The 6m high turret was probably the corner tower of an enclosure that has completely disappeared over time. It is circular in plan with an external diameter of 4m and walls as thick as 50cm.
Credits: Story

All material for this exhibit has been taken from INTACH Delhi Chapter's publications.
CONVENOR — A G Krishna Menon
CO-CONVENOR — Swapna Liddle
PROJECT CONSULTANT — Annabel Lopez
PROJECT TEAM — Abhiram Sharma, Arpita Ghatak, Niharika Singh, Tanya Singh, Aditya Mehta, Deb Banerji, Pulkit Taneja

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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