City Monument – Bagh-I-Alam Ka Gumbad, Deer Park
A forlorn but lovely Lodhi.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Snuggled in the heart of south Delhi’s Deer Park, it is one of the Capital’s most beautiful and perhaps least-known Lodhi-era ruins. The 16th century Bagh-I-Alam Ka Gumbad exists in the world like a small joy. Its mood is vastly different from other gloomy edifices of its time that are littered across the city. None of their bleak lonesomeness taints its character. The building is, in fact, full of life.
Grass grows out of its battered stone slabs. Squirrels clamber over the arched niches. Pigeons perch at the battlements. Occasionally, the bird chatter grows so loud that you feel that there must be hundreds of them inside the monument, and that at any moment they would uproot and carry the heavy thing up into the Delhi sky.
But, of course, the Gumbad has withstood the ravages of many centuries. Its beauty, however, is not flashy like that of Humayun’s Tomb. The monument works unhurriedly upon the senses, like a piece of slow-moving music. The ordinary-seeming stony exterior gradually reveals, for instance, the handful of blue tiles still clinging to it.
The inner chamber is locked. You can peer through a grill of cobwebbed metal bars to spot a few gravestones lying in the musty-smelling darkness. The ceiling is adorned with artsy patterns. The mood is all mystery. Far cheerful is the picturesque wall-mosque next to the ruin. Its yard is a landscape of fallen leaves and forsaken graves. This morning the tombstones are washed in a hazy golden sunshine as if a supernatural spirit is trying to wake up the forgotten dead. The sight is pure magic realism.
Once upon a Lodhi