Sunday, December 14, 2008

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

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City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

The poor man's Humayun Tomb.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

If Humayun's Tomb is the poor man’s Taj Mahal, then Safdarjung's Tomb (1753) is positively the poor man’s Humayun Tomb.

Everything at Safdarjung’s is as it is at Humayun’s, but smaller. The gateway, the dome, the trees. All look less imposing. The grass is less green. Even the pool is dry. It seems no one loves this place. I see no tourists, no lovers, no loners.

This complex is also the site of the head office of the Delhi circle of Archaeological Survey of India. There's a library, too. But I see no employees, no book lovers.

Never mind. I climb the not-so-steep stairs to reach the not-so-high platform. No stunning scenery here. The structure itself looks out of sync with its intended design — like a bad copy of Humayun Tomb.

Why should it be otherwise? After all, Humayun was one of the great Mughals, while Safdarjung was just Oudh’s nawab. Does this make you miss the original?

Don’t fret.

Walk straight through Lodhi Road, and it will take just half an hour to reach Humayun’s.

One of the early Mughal-era monuments, Humayun’s Tomb is often described as the first draft of Taj Mahal. The Taj, of course, is the most dazzling erection the Mughals raised, while Safdarjung Tomb came up during the dying years of the Mughal dynasty.

At first sight, it appears as if there was an attempt to create a Taj replica here but perhaps they ran out of marbles. And gold coins, too. So what we got instead is this seemingly faulty wreck that, sadly, does look like a mausoleum built to honour a less exalted man who did live in less glorious times.

Poor Mr Safdarjung.

If Humayun’s Tomb represent the might of the Mughals then Safdarjung’s mark their decline. But don’t lose heart. Sometimes there is dignity in decline and that peculiar grace can be sensed here, under the soft sunlight of a December afternoon.

Entry fee Rs 5 (for Indians) Time From sunrise to sunset

Touching up

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

A glimpse of the outside world

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

Signs of glory

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

Signs of abuse

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS

Sad but beautiful

City Landmark – Safdarjung’s Tomb, Near AIIMS


ramesh_lalwani said...

Nice photos Mayank.Beauty of this monument can be enhanced if ASI get the fountains running and fill up water channels like Taj and humanyun Tomb.

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John Huber said...

I appreciate your comments on Safdarjung Tomb. W As a resident of Delhi from 1/2007 - 2/2008 living in Vasant Kunj, I would often pass Safdarjung on my way to Old Delhi, Khan Market, well many places of interest and otherwise. I only visited once, toward the end of my stay. All this is not very interesting I know, but i found it strange that most all of my friends had never been to the tomb. Sad really, as it is a place of nice solitude and reflection. As a less frequented and less repaired monument in Delhi, it forces the visitor to use his/her imagination. And, one can get away with traversing the entire out wall of the campus. Might be risky and frowned upon by the grounds crew and guard, but go for it if you are able. Very fun.