City Landmark – Khan-i-Khana’s Tomb, Nizamuddin East
Scarred with beauty.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A stone-paved lane hedged with marigold flowers leads to one of Delhi’s strangest monuments. The 16th century tomb of a Mughal noble, Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana, is both ugly and beautiful. Its exterior stonework is stripped off. The plaster on its inside walls is chipped. Its niches are cobwebbed. The ceilings are scrawled with romantic messages. But before you notice the flaws, the weathered dome, as well as the chhatris and the arches take you in. The underground tomb is inaccessible but the sarcophagus in the upper chamber is bare, quiet, dark and windy.
Bordered by the tony Nizamuddin East bungalows on one side and the noisy Mathura Road on the other, the large garden around the ticketed tomb is like a city getaway. It is dotted with bottle palm, ashoka, mango and sangwan trees. A giant neem leans onto the tomb itself. In the mornings, the neighbourhood’s health-conscious gentry treat the complex like their local Lodhi Garden. They troop in with their passes for exercises and games. In other times, the place remains forsaken, save a few sightseers, stray dogs and restless squirrels continually racing on the grass, climbing the trees and playing catch-me-if-you-can with one another.
Besides being Akbar’s prime minister, Mr Khan-i-Khana translated Mughal emperor Babar’s memoirs from Chaghatai to Persian. He wrote two books on astrology and had a good command over Sanskrit. He also composed poetry. Once, Hindi poet Tulsidas wrote a verse on him.
This ruin was built for Mr Khan-i-Khana’s wife and, as it happened, he too was interred here. During the last years of the Mughal rule, the tomb and the dome had their marbles stripped off and put on the tomb of Safdarjang, another noble. The scarred look works well for those who find beauty in melancholy.
Beware There are no railings on the platform Ticket Rs 5 Time Sunrise to sunset Where Nizamuddin East, next to the entrance
Waiting for the date
The whole look
Playing with history
It’s the time
Up the stairs
The sacrophagus chamber
Quite a sight