The Tomb of Safdarjung is situated at the junction of Safdarjung Road and Aurobindo Marg (Road) and in close proximity to Safdarjung Airport as well as Najaf Khan’s Tomb. This area can be accessed by local buses, auto rickshaws and cabs.
Safdarjung’s Tomb is also known as ‘Safdarjung Ka Maqbara’, a Garden Tomb constructed towards the end of the 18th Century in the typical Mughal style of architecture. The Archaeological Survey of India houses its office on the top storey of this Monument. The Garden is seen in the traditional Persian design of ‘Charbagh’ or ‘Four-square Garden’ with an ornate Gateway and an elaborately decorated facade depicting carvings on plasterwork.
Safdarjung was a very powerful and resourceful Prime Minister in the Imperial courts of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah who was one of the feeble Emperors who ruled Delhi between 1719 AD and 1748 AD. Safdarjung was born in 1708 AD and his real name was Muhammad Muqim in-Khurasan, a Persian native, who relocated to India in 1722 AD. He was also appointed as the Subadar Nawab of Oudh from 19th March 1739 up till his demise on 5th October 1754.
Safdarjung’s Father-in-Law followed by his Maternal Uncle named Burhan Ul Mulk Sa’adat Khan had ruled over the Throne of Oudh as the ‘Nawab of Oudh’ and Safdarjung succeeded the Throne of Oudh after bribing Nadir Shah with Rs. 2 crores. He was then conferred with the title of ‘Safdarjung’ by the Emperor.
Safdarjung proved to be a good and effective administrator. He kept a tight control on Oudh and at the same time rendered invaluable services to the already feeble Muhammad Shah. He was also appointed as the Governor of Kashmir and in the later years gained complete control of the Mughal Empire Administration. After the demise of Emperor Muhammad Shah, Ahmad Shah Bahadur ascended the Throne of Delhi in 1748 AD and Safdarjung was appointed as the Chief Minister of the Mughal Empire (Northern India) which earned him the title of ‘Wazir ul-Mamalik-i-Hindustan’. He was also given the responsibility to govern Ajmer and became the ‘Faujdar’ (Leader of the Army) of Narnaul.
Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah in fact handed all the administration and control of the Empire to Safdarjung which made him the most powerful man in India. Along with these extra responsibilities, Safdarjung never neglected his own province of ‘Oudh’ as it was his first family and property. This fame and power was unfortunately short lived as court politics overtook him. He was faced with confrontations from the Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur after which he was eventually dismissed from all responsibilities.
Safdarjung returned to Delhi in December 1753 AD and stayed in the city up till his demise on 5th October 1754 AD at the age of 46. He was buried within the Tomb Chamber constructed in 1754 AD by his son named Shuja Ud-Daula in his memory.
Safdarjung’s Tomb was built on a raised platform that measures 110 square feet with a high terrace surrounded by a massive garden area enclosed within a wall that also homes a courtyard and a Mosque standing beside it. The Tomb is crowned with a huge central dome and the garden area has water canals that lead to an ornate gateway and three pavilions. In fact the water canals are long water Tanks that flank the sides of the Tomb. The three pavilions named Jangli Mahal or ‘Palace in the woods’, Moti Mahal or ‘Pearl Palace’ and Badshah Pasand or ‘The Emperor’s Favourite’ respectively have rooms caved in that were used as living quarters before. History has that Nawab Safdarjung’s Family had once used these Pavilions as their residence which has been converted into the Office of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Tomb site also homes a small library next to the entrance gateway.
The Tomb of Safdarjung stands at a height of 18.28 Sq. Mtr. built of red and brownish-yellow coloured sandstone. The central Tomb Chamber depicts a square shape design with polygon shaped Towers at the corners dressed with thick, column-like structures. The Chamber homes eight compartments around it that surrounds the main cenotaph of Safdarjung standing at the centre of this Tomb Chamber. Under this Cenotaph and way below (underground) are the real burial chambers or graves of Safdarjung and His wife. The ceiling of the Tomb is decorated with plasterwork that has been painted. In fact the Marble and Sandstones that were used for constructing this Tomb were ripped off from Khan-i-Khanan’s Tomb (Tomb of Abd Al-Rahim).
The Charbagh garden that surrounds the Tomb of Safdarjung spreads over 300 Sq. Mts. It is divided into four equal squares separated by pathways and water canals which is a typical feature of the late Mughal as Persian style of design. These four-square gardens are further divided into four smaller gardens and hence the garden structure is aptly named as ‘Charbagh’ as seen in the design of Humayun’s Tomb to name one and in all the Garden Tomb structures built during the Mughal era. The interiors of the tall rubble walls of the Tomb are decorated with a series of depressed arches and octagonal shaped Towers or ‘Chattris’ on all the four corners.
As you walk towards the southern end of Safdarjung’s Tomb garden, you will notice a vast land that was once the battlefield where Timur along with his Moghul Army had defeated Emperor Muhammad Bin Tughlaq in 1398 AD. Other structures and buildings were in fact named after this powerful Wazir which include Safdarjung Airport, Safdarjung Hospital, Safdarjung Terminal and a residential colony.
The Safdarjung Tomb Complex is equipped with all the basic facilities for tourists and visitors. The site can be viewed between 0630 hours and 1800 hours on all days with an entry fee of INR 5.00 per head for Indian Citizens and free entry for Children who are 15 years of age and below, however, entry fee of INR 100.00 / $2.00 per head is applicable for Foreign Nationals. Still camera photography is not chargeable but video filming is charged at the rate of INR 25.00 per video camera.