May 08, 2014

Lodi-era Tomb, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
– Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

One of the city’s largest mausoleums, ignominiously unheralded and outrageously forgotten, morosely resides like a grand meditative figure in the furthest corner of the wilderness-reclaimed Mehrauli Archaeological Park in a setting that cannot perceptibly be easily distinguished as to whether it aspires to be an impeding, all-encompassing forest or a mere foliage cover went wild. For the sake of brevity, lets christen this Lodi-era (AD 1451-1526) structure too a “Barakhamba” (twelve-pillared, domed mausoleum) after its considerably better preserved and comparatively moderately-proportioned distant cousin in Hauz Khas Village to which it unceremoniously bears little likeness. Majestically seated firmly upon a short hill veiled thoroughly by a cover of leafy green Kikar trees, the rugged, though originally handsome, sentinel, so unlike its cousin in almost all aspects except architectural, presents, especially with its massive battered walls supported upon rows of thick unadorned double-pillars and its numerous ornamental features disgracefully crumbling to pieces, a picture of wanton desolation and yet peaceful resignation and acceptance – a sage-like demeanor, further visually completed by the presence of a bizarre “hair-bun” – the crookedly jagged inverted-lotus finial surmounting the colossal dome that is shrewdly, although grotesquely, complimented by nature in the form of the further appendage of thorny vegetation sprouting from it. The heavy-set corners culminate into thick, ornamental tapering turrets that protrude through the roof which is demarcated by a wide “chajja” (eaves) supported on immensely stoic stone brackets; and lastly, as if to portray a beaded adornment, decorative “kanguras” (battlement-like ornamentation) line both the roof and the drum (base) of the dome.

Lost and found

Noting nearby the presence of a surviving arched gateway and remains of a high platform that is accessible through a staircase and pockmarked with numerous disintegrating graves, one might hazard a guess that the tomb either belonged to a high-ranking court/military official or an exceedingly venerated saint. The evocative interiors, where local villagers gather to catch a siesta in the afternoons and gossip in the evenings, have nearly disappeared into dust, but it is one last unique exterior feature that, despite its incongruously ruinous (and yet somehow bewitching) state, catches one’s roving eyes – possibly for the purpose of sheltering an earthen oil lamp (“diya”), on the back side of the mihrab (western wall of a mosque/funerary structure that indicates the direction of Mecca and is faced by the faithful while offering Namaz prayers) is located a tiny, singularly beautiful decorative alcove, a feature that never (as far as my limited knowledge goes) appears at the position and location so described, in any other mosque/tomb in the city!


Location: Behind Rajon ki Baoli (refer Pixelated Memories - Rajon ki Baoli), Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Nearest Metro station: Qutb Minar
Nearest Bus stop: Lado Serai
How to reach: The Archaeological Park's entrance is immediately opposite Lado Serai bus stop at the intersection of Mehrauli-Badarpur and Badarpur-Gurgaon roads. Walk/avail an auto from Qutb Minar metro station or avail a bus from Saket metro station. Sandstone markers indicate the routes to different monuments inside the park.
Photography/Video charges: Nil
Time required for sightseeing: Approx. 20 min
Note – There are no facilities (toilets, food or drinking water) available within the Archaeological Park. While you can avail food & refreshments at one of the restaurants at Lado Serai, you can only find toilets at the shopping malls close to Saket Metro Station, almost a kilometre away. The park remains deserted in the evenings and is best avoided then by female enthusiasts.
Other monuments within the Archaeological Park premises –
  1. Pixelated Memories - Balban's Tomb 
  2. Pixelated Memories - Chaumukh Darwaza  
  3. Pixelated Memories - Jamali Kamali Complex  
  4. Pixelated Memories - Khan Shahid's Tomb  
  5. Pixelated Memories - Lodi-era Canopy Tomb  
  6. Pixelated Memories - Metcalfe's Chattri  
  7. Pixelated Memories - Metcalfe's Ziggurats
  8. Pixelated Memories - Mughal Tombs and Choti Masjid Bagh wali
  9. Pixelated Memories - Rajon ki Baoli  
  10. Pixelated Memories - Settlement ruins  
  11. Pixelated Memories - Quli Khan's Tomb