Other than the principle Tombs of famous Emperors and the Imperial Nobles, there are smaller Tombs that dot the City of Delhi whose history is partially known to us. Mentioned below are the few monuments that exist in South Delhi and are easily approachable by local cabs and auto rickshaws. They not only add to the rustic charm of Delhi but aptly name the city as the ‘City of Tombs’ or ‘City of Monuments’.
AJIM KHAN’S TOMB
The Tomb of Ajim Khan belongs to a noble named Azim Khan. It was constructed sometime in the early 17th Century AD. The Tomb is built in the typical square shaped structure crowned with a dome that is coated with plaster and decorated with carvings. The gravestone within the Tomb Chamber has disappeared however some state that the actual burial crypt lies way below the heart of the central chamber which remains a mere speculation due to lack of evidence.
Towards the south of Ajim Khan’s Tomb, you will notice an ornamental gateway made of stone that is said to have been constructed by Sir Charles Theophilus Metcalfe.
BIJRI KHAN’S TOMB
The Tomb of Bijri Khan lies amidst the crowded slums of South Delhi. It is situated within the heart of a slum area and the R. K. Puram Sector 3 area beside a rubble pile and towers above the Venkateshwara Marg (Road). It is in fact a distinguished site seen on the border of the main road but somehow has failed to arouse even the slightest curiosity amongst the locals and residents living beside it with reference to its History, any myths or even its presence.
Bijri Khan’s Tomb dates back to the Lodi era constructed for Bijri Khan who was a noble in the Imperial Courts of the Lodi Dynasty. The Tomb stands on a raised platform and the structure is crowned with a high dome that was once dressed with red sandstone and a marble pinnacle not visible today. In fact the Tomb site is in an utter state of despair and seen with small trees sprouting from its corners that lend an unkempt graffiti to the structure.
The walls of the Tomb are stripped off its original ornamentation revealing the inner rubble layers while the four graves sitting within the central tomb chamber are seen in a dilapidated state. One of the graves is in fact the worst of all seen covered with pieces of small stones that also litter the floor area. Empty water bottles, glass bottles and slippers also litter the Tomb site.
Recently, INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) marked the Tomb of Bijri Khan as Grade ‘A’ under the Archaeological rating system which renders the structure as a more significant Archaeological site rather than an ancient and protected Historical Site. The Archaeology State Department has just commenced restoration work on the tomb, however, it still stumbles on this concern that the slum dwellers that have encroached the Monumental site makes it impossible for conservation work to continue. It is also stated that once this Tomb is declared as a protected site then only can INTACH and ASI take legal action to shift the slum area and hence restore the ancient monument to its original glory.
Sabz Burj also spelt as ‘Subz Burj’ which means ‘Green Dome’ is an octagonal shaped Tomb which is situated at the junction of Lodi Road and Mathura Road and west of Humayun’s Tomb. The Tomb was built with four narrow and four wide sides known as ‘Muthamman-i-Baghdadi’ and is crowned with a double dome that supports itself on the base of a high drum. The Dome is covered with coloured tiles that reflect a slight green colour from where the name was derived.
Sabz Burj lacks the principle features of a pre-Mughal style of architecture that should have been seen with Guldastas (Flower bud emblems), Chajjas (projecting eaves) and Chattris (small domes supported on four columns each). The Tomb depicts more of a Central Asian style of design that existed way before the previous dynasties and before the Mughal era illustrating traces of cross walls supported on a wheel shaped platform and wooden beams seen within the upper dome and hence revealing methods of how it was constructed centuries ago.
Lal Bangla which means ‘Red Bungalow’ is situated on the Dr. Zakir Husain Road formerly known as the ‘old Wellesley Road’ near the entrance of the Delhi Golf Club. The Tomb site reveals three graves made of red sandstone sitting at the heart of a square shaped chamber surrounded diagonally by smaller square shaped rooms and a long Hall between each room.
History has that one of the graves in Lal Bangla belongs to Lal Kunwar who was the mother of Emperor Shah Alam II who ruled Delhi between 1759 AD and 1806 AD while the other grave belongs to Begam Jan who was the Emperor’s daughter.
The name of the Tomb site ‘Lal Bangla’ was either derived from the name of ‘Lal’ Kunwar or from the fact that the Tomb is made of ‘Lal’ which means ‘Red’ sandstone though facts are unknown.
There was another grave situated beside the two existing graves but has been converted for the use of the Delhi Golf Course Club. All these three gravestones are enclosed within a wall enclosure in order to preserve and protect them from external damages.
Two Tomb structures known as ‘Dadi Ka Gumbad’ and ‘Poti Ka Gumbad’ can be seen at the junction of Delhi-Mehrauli Road that leads you to Hauz Khas area in South Delhi and on its northern end. Both these Tombs stand on an elevated platform wherein one Tomb is the larger one while the other, a smaller one. The Tombs are square in shape and built of rubble stones decorated with plasterwork that depicts a typical Lodi style of architecture. There are arched openings on the North, South and Eastern sides while the facades of these Tombs resemble a pattern of a structure with storeys or levels.
There are no substantial evidence to prove the owners of these Tombs, however, the only known fact is that the larger Tomb structure known as the Tomb of Biwi or ‘Mistress’ is named as ‘Dadi Ka Gumbad’ which means the ‘Tomb of a Grand Mother’ while the smaller Tomb belongs to ‘Bandi’ which means a ‘Maid Servant’ or ‘Poti Ka Gumbad’ which means ‘Tomb of a Grand Daughter’.
Excavations within this Tomb site of ‘Dadi Poti’ revealed a partially damaged medieval Sanskrit inscription that states the presence of a Hindu establishment centuries ago.
Several Tombs dot the area of Green Park in South Delhi which include names like ‘Biran Ka Gumbad’ which means ‘Brother’s Dome’, ‘Chhoti Gumti’ which means ‘Small Dome’ and ‘Sakri Gumti’ which means ‘Narrow Dome’, however, there are evidence to reveal the names of the people buried within these Tombs.
LAL GUMBAD (MALVIYA NAGAR)
Lal Gumbad is situated in an area just before Malviya Nagar, an affluent region in South Delhi. The Tomb structure belongs to Shaikh Kabir Ud-Din Auliya who was the disciple of the famous Shaikh Raushan ‘Chiragh-i-Delhi’ and is popularly known as ‘Lal Gumbad’ or ‘Rakabwala Gumbad’. The Tomb was built in 1397 AD in the shape of a square chamber made of high quality stone walls overlaid with red sandstone. The Roof is crowned with a conical shaped dome covered in plaster that resembles the Tomb of Ghiyath-ud-Din Tughluq.
One can enter the Tomb chamber from the eastern side through a pointed arched opening dressed with marble bands. The western side of the Tomb wall is seen embedded with ‘iron rings’ known as ‘Rakab’ that is believed to have been fixed by thieves to enable them to easily scale up the walls and steal the Golden pinnacle that had once crowned the dome. The name of the Tomb was derived from this incident and hence is known today as the ‘Rakabwala Gumbad’ which means the ‘Dome of the Iron rings’.
Amongst these several Monuments that scatter across the area of South Delhi, a few names also stand out in the crowd which include the ‘Teen Burji’, a ‘Three-Dome Tomb’ also spelt as ‘Tin Burji’ situated to the east of Muhammadpur Village, the ‘Malik Munirka Masjid’ that is situated in Munirka Village area, ‘Wazirpur Ka Gumbad’ that lies about a kilometre away towards the north and ‘Munda Gumbad’ which reveals the absence of a dome despite the name stating ‘Gumbad’ which means ‘Dome’ that lies within the R. K. Puram area. Another octagonal shaped chamber structure with the absence of a Dome is seen on the south-western side of R. K. Puram while ‘Bara-Lao Ka Gumbad’ lies on the eastern side. ‘Bajre Ka Gumbad’ is situated approximately 500 metres northwest of R. K. Puram while an unknown Tomb that bears an inscription revealing its presence since the Lodi Dynasty is situated on the north-western end.
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