Tomb of Sikandar Lodi

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Tomb of Sikandar Lodi

The tomb of Sikandar Lodi is located in the southern-most side of the Lodi Gardens. It stands within an extensive walled enclosure, square in shape. It was built in 1517-18 A.D. by Ibrahim Lodi over the remains of his father, Sultan Sikandar Lodi. No kindly star shone over the kingdom of the Lodis, who throughout their 75 years’ rule had to fight for their existence. Their means were limited, and what their Mughal successors could afford by way of building a Humayun’s tomb or a Taj Mahal was certainly beyond their reach. The architecture of their period, the chief exponent of which was Sikandar Lodi, has, therefore, been sometimes described as ‘prosaic, simple, austere and formal”. Ordinary stone has gone into the making of the Lodi buildings, humble in contrast to the marble or red stone in which the Mughals delighted. The style is simple too. The Lodi buildings still have certain striking features.

The tomb of Sultan Sikandar Lodi has a striking appearance, for it is decorated with enameled tiles of various colors. The most important structural feature of the tomb is the double dome, which was designed to preserve the symmetry and relative proportions of the body of the building. This feature was probably borrowed from Iran. Its first traces can be found in the tomb of Shihab-ud-din Taj Khan (1501 A.D.), locally called Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad. This innovation played an important part in the evolution of the Mughal style. Of the four ancient structures that distinguish the Lodi Garden the one nearest the main road on the south is the tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid (1433-43 A.D.) built by this son, who was eventually over-thrown by Bahlol Khan Lodi, the first ruler of the Lodi dynasty. The tomb, also known as Mubarak Khan Ka Gumbad, consists of an octagonal chamber, some 15 meters in diameter surrounded by a verandah. The sloping walls found in the earlier buildings are not seen here, the sloping masonry being confined to the buttresses, which strengthen each cover of the octagon. The dome springs from a sixteen-side drum. The massive arcades as well as the pavilions engirdling the dome have a striking appearance. In the Lodi Garden two structures, called Shish Gumbad and Bara Gumbad, stand close to each other. The latter was constructed in 1494 during the reign of Sikandar Shah Lodi. Though it looks like a tomb it has no graves inside and is more like a colossal gateway to a mosque. The gate, which stands on a platform furnished with arched recesses, is called the Bara Gumbad on account of its lofty dome. It possesses the same stone bench (0.838 meters in height and 0.457 meters in breadth) round the internal walls and similar miniature brackets at the angles of the octagon. It measures 18.89 meters square without and 12.19 meters square within while the Alai Darwaza measures 17.2 meters and 10.5 meters respectively. Its height is also greater for the total height of the building about the plan 26.8 meters.

Architecturally the gateway is of great importance – it marks a considerable advance in architecture, for the lotus finial of the large dome was approaching its final form which it eventually reached in the Mughal period. The mosque, which is situated on the flank of the gateway, is profusely decorated with conventional foliage and verses from the Quran incised in plaster relieved by coloured tile work. The Arabic inscriptions on the angular arches glisten almond-while in the morning sun. The angle turret of the mosques resembles the Qutb Minar with its taper, its rings and the satellite form of its upper part. Some critics are of the view that the mosque is old than the tomb (gateway) to which it is attached. Therefore, it is better to assume this mosque to be contemporary with the tombs (of the Lodi period) around it. Its interior is ornamented with the blue glazed tiles in two shades.

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