The queen of the evening.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Nobody knows who is buried here. It is not grand, but it is extremely exquisite. And you will see no tourists, no lovers, so typical of Delhi’s more well-known monuments.
This unnamed Lodhi-era tomb in South Delhi’s Lado Sarai is unusually marvelous because each evening it manages to transcend its seemingly insurmountable beauty. As the sun starts to set somewhere beyond Mehrauli, the old building loses the sense of its glorious past, if there was any. Instead, it transforms into a plaything for the neighbourhood.
People of the locality soak the monument and its immediate vicinity with the essence of their intimate lives. The Lodi-era ruin becomes a corner of their private courtyard. Consider the scenes The Delhi Walla witnessed during a twilight hour. A young couple was lounging quietly under the shade of the dome; their child played with himself an arm’s length away. Three friends were seated on a bench, and discussing their preparations for an approaching job entrance exam. Two people were playing badminton. A boy was flying a kite; another was riding his cycle up a grassy slope. Two elderly men were arguing over politics, looking agitated. A young man was seated alone, intently watching the silhouette of the Qutub Minar in the gathering darkness; his mind probably weighed down with secret thoughts.
A plaque placed beside the monument by the considerate Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) talks of things that matter to scholars: “To the eastern side of the tomb, there are remains of a rubble wall… The interior walls and the dome are embellished with geometrical designs and Quranic inscriptions… There are also traces of glazed tiles….”
But facts are not important. The monument permeates the soul with feeling. It may make you happy or sad, but once you visit it, you would like to return again and again.
Just behind my home