Delhi’s Lodi Gardens Heritage Walk

Photo by Patrick Horton

See gardens landscaped by Lady Willingdon, wife of the Viceroy of India

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This Lodi Gardens walk takes you northwards from the Lodi Rd entrance to the gardens up to Subramaniam Bharti Marg. Apart from a few scattered rural villages, the landscape south of Old Delhi would have been open countryside before the British built New Delhi. Standing forlorn across that landscape were many isolated ancient ruins, crumbling with neglect.

Such was the case with the area now known as Lodi Gardens that contains Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, the Sheesh Gumbad and the Bara Gumbad, all 15th century buildings belonging to the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties, which ruled most of northern India during the 15th and 16th centuries.

At the request of Lady Willingdon, wife of the Viceroy of India, the area was landscaped and the tombs repaired. When opened in 1936 it was called Lady Willingdon Park but was renamed Lodi Gardens after independence. Now as one of Delhi’s many green spaces, it’s a favourite for picnickers, walkers and joggers.

Walking from Lodi Rd the first monument, on a hillock, is the Tomb of Mohammed Shah, a Sayyid ruler of whom little is known. It’s built out of quartzite, a local grey stone that’s hard to work so there’s minimal decorative work. It was once covered in plaster but that has mostly gone.

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Domes and pavilions

The Bara Gumbad (big dome) is more a gateway to an attached three-domed mosque on its western side adorned with inscriptions in Arabic. It was built in 1494 during the reign of Sikander Lodi. Opposite the mosque is what might have been a guesthouse while in the middle is the remains of a well. This has been filled in at some point and a grave added.

Built during the reign of Sikander Lodi and opposite the Bara Gumbad, is the Sheesh Gumbad (mirror dome) because of its glazed blue tiles. The interior has tombs of an unknown family and built into the western wall is a mihrab, an apse facing Mecca. Over to the righthand side are two small pavilions with scalloped arches showing that they date to Shah Jahan’s time.

Across the Athpula Bridge

The path north then crosses an ornamental lake that was once a tributary of the River Yamuna. The bridge is the Athpula (eight piers) Bridge and is one of the few remaining constructions in Delhi dating from Akbar’s time.

On the northern edge of the gardens is the Tomb of Sikander Lodi built as a fortress. Within is a double-domed mausoleum, the outer large to serve as a landmark and the inner smaller to keep within the interior tomb proportions. Surrounding the tomb is a charbagh (four quarters) garden that is one of the earliest examples in Delhi.

Metro: Jorbagh on Line 2 or Khan Market on Line 6.

Also nearby: Safdarjung’s Tomb, Khan Market, Gandhi Smitri, Indira Gandhi memorial.


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