Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Safdarjungs Tomb

This has to be one of my favourite places to spend a quiet couple of mid week hours. I cant vouch for weekends, but each time I've paid a morning visit it has always been relatively quiet with few tourists, although it is high on the tourist list of places to visit.

This monumental garden tomb was built for Safdarjung who lived from 1708 - 5 Oct 1754. Born Mirza Muqim Abul Mansur Khan he was given the name Safdarjung by the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. For many years he had ruled Avadh/Oudh under Muhammad Shah before relocating to Delhi after the emperors death. Here he became chief minister, Vizier (Wazir ul-Mamalk-i-Hindustan) The king was weak and Safdarjung ruled in all but name, until he became too powerful and there was an uprising instigated by the kings family and followers. He was driven out of Delhi in 1753 before subsequently dying in 1754. His son Nawab Shujaud Daula had the tomb built in 1754 by an Abyssinian architect, robbing much of the sandstone and marble from Khan-i-khana tomb, Nizamuddin, which I visited a few months ago and is currently undergoing vast restoration works!

It is the last tomb built in the design of the much larger Humayuns tomb design, which sits some 3 kms to the East of Safdarjungs along Lodhi road. Like that of its grander cousin, the central mausoleum sits in the centre surrounded by the traditional geometric walled gardens. The main entrance is very grand, imposing and highly decorated in itself. The 2 storey building contains many rooms including a library, with a mosque to the right of the entrance, with several domes atop its roof. 

The tomb measures 28 metres square and has a high central dome with 4 towers in each corner, heavily decorated with several arches and niches, surrounding the slightly off square building. Unlike Humayuns tomb and the Taj Mahal, which was modelled upon Humayuns, the 4 minarets/towers at each corner are still attached to the tomb, whereas with both the Taj Mahal and Humayun, they sit away at a distance in each of the 4 corners. Although stunning and in my mind perfectly formed, it is apparently derided by some as it is in fact not geometrical or square, reportedly poorly designed with no symmetry and lack of proportion! personally it still gets a WOW from me! As mentioned before this is one of my favourites, the Taj Mahal is grand and awe inspiring and vast, Humayuns is equally stunning but smaller and made from sandstone as well as marble but sits on a large complex which can be very busy. Safdarjungs feels like its quieter cousin, serene and beautiful but happy and content to take the quieter back seat :) 

The garden is encompassed by a 280 metre wall on each of its 4 sides with rills/streams and tanks/ponds dividing the garden into squares, the regularity appeals to my sense of equality and perfection! The rills lead to the main entrance gateway and to 3 pavilions in the centre of the 4 walls. In the West sits Jangli mahal (Palace of the forest) in the North, Moti Mahal (Pearl palace) and in the South sits Badshah Pasand (Kings favourite) for many years these were home to Safdarjungs extended family. 

Well worth a visit and to perhaps bring a book to read and sit under one of the many mature trees within the garden. From here its just a short 5-10 minute walk into the nearby Lodi Gardens and a visit to the tombs this pretty park contains. 

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