One of the things I like best about Delhi is its gorgeous parks and how they are the haunts of all kinds of beings: from diplomats, fashionable high society wives, the city´s bigwigs, their fancy pooches, students, canoodling couples, the office bunkers, siesta lovers, the homeless, and the tourists. Even Delhi´s mongrels scamper around fearlessly and the abundance of old trees make them a haven for all kinds of birds: parakeets, hoopoes, eagles, falcons, and owls. Striped squirrels call these parks home and the fleeting seasons deck them with various flowers. Most of them have some ruins or monuments thrown in and are sights for tired urban eyes. Of all these parks, the Lodhi Gardens is my favourite and I love it for its antiquity, sprawling nature, and monuments.
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Khairpur village to Lodhi Gardens
Located on Lodhi Road in south Delhi, it is sandwiched between the popular Safdarjung´s Tomb and the posh Khan Market. However, this does not reduce its charm and at any given point of the day, you will find Lodhi Gardens giving shelter to health freaks, gossip lovers, college students, and courting couples trying to steal a kiss or two. It is like a sanctuary and that was what perhaps Lady Willingdon had in mind when she ordered the village of Khairpur to be moved away in order to build a manicured garden. That was in 1936 when the British first developed the area as a formal garden and protected the monuments that lay scattered; unkempt and in various states of ruin. Lodhi Gardens was initially christened Lady Willingdon Park, after its creator. A post-Independence nationalist surge saw the garden being renamed as Lodhi Gardens and in 1968, it was redesigned by the eminent architect J.A.Stein. Today, it is one of the most popular Delhi parks, and the monuments are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and by the State Department of Archaeology, Delhi.
The captivating monuments at Lodhi Gardens
What makes the Lodhi Gardens so photogenic is its incredible collection of historical monuments. Most of these monuments hail from the later Sayyid and Lodi dynasties when the area served as their royal tomb in the 15th and 16th centuries. The oldest tomb in the park belongs to Sultan Muhammad Shah, a ruler of the relatively short Sayyid dynasty. He reigned from around 1434 to 1444 and his tomb was built by his son Alauddin Alam Shah Sayyid. Containing the tombs of this ruler and the other members of his family, it is a lovely monument with a decorative plaster finish, chhatris on the roof, and neon green parrots in its nooks. The evening sun of Delhi never fails to make this monument glow golden and a great number of bats call its cavernous interior home. One of my best memories of Lodhi Gardens is the image of this tomb against a twilight sky that is filled with huge homing birds. It is a lovely sight indeed and this tomb is the only remaining legacy of the dynasty in the garden.
Walk through the history of Delhi
I have always found walking through the various Lodhi Gardens monuments like strolling through the pages of India´s medieval history. Shortly after the death of Muhammad Shah Sayyid, the Delhi Sultanate fell into the hands of the powerful Lodhi dynasty. It took over in 1451 and during the reign of the second Lodhi ruler, the most prominent monuments of the Lodhi Gardens were constructed. These are the very impressive Bada Gumbad (big dome) complex, the Sheesh Gumbad (mirror dome), and the tomb of Sikandar Lodhi. Collectively known as the Bada Gumbad complex, it includes a mosque and an arched pavilion called the Mehman Khana. Walk straight on until you reach the Athpula and you will come to the end of the powerful Lodhi dynasty and the Delhi Sultanate. In around 1526, Sikandar Lodhi´s son was overthrown by an invading prince from foreign parts. His name was Babur and he had traveled all the way from Samarkand. He defeated the last Lodhi dynasty ruler and established the famous Mughal rule in India. This new ruler did not have the time or interest in leaving much impression on the Lodhi Gardens, but one of his successors, Emperor Akbar sturdy commissioned the sturdy Athpula to be built. It is a lovely arched stone bridge, that is called Athpula owing to its eight pillars and it was constructed across a tributary of the Yamuna River.
Why I love the Lodhi Gardens
With such a collection of fabulous monuments, it is no wonder that the restoration work has been going on for the past decade and is currently being carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is a huge, handful project; keeping these lovely gardens captivating and thus keeping an English lady´s dream alive. However, as I said before, it is not the loveliness of the gardens that I find so charming but the fact that Lodhi Gardens is accessible (and beloved) by all: the tick-infested mongrels, bigwigs, diplomats, beauties, bats, squirrels, geese, lovers, and an occasional jewel-eyed shy snake. It is indeed a garden of Eden albeit with a colourful confetti of some scattered trash.
Lodhi Gardens Travel Guide
How to Reach
By Road: Lodhi Gardens can be reached from Connaught Place by taxi, autorickshaw, or car in about 20 minutes.
By Metro: It is also easily accessible by Metro. The main entrance is near Jor Bagh station on the Yellow Line. It is Gate 1 or the Ashoka Gate. Free parking space and toilet facilities are available here. The Khan Market Metro Station on the Violet Line (around 15 mins walk) is near Gate 4. There There are several other smaller entrance gates around the periphery of the garden as well.
Everyday 6:00 AM – 7:30 PM. Skip Sundays to avoid the crowds.
What to See
Tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid, the Bada Gumbad complex, Athpula, and several other smaller Mughal monuments.
Follow the rest of the Delhi series
- INDIA TRIP IN A NUTSHELL
- STREET ART IN DELHI
- DELHI GARDENS AND PARKS
- KHAORI BAOLI SPICE MARKET IN DELHI
- DELHI IN WINTER
- JAMA MASJID IN DELHI
- KATHPUTLI COLONY IN DELHI
- OUR WONDERFUL DELHI CITY STAY
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE