Ever since I can remember, I have been charmed by the splendours of New Delhi. As a child it seemed like an exotic destination with its glitzy markets of Gaffar and South Ex. Growing up, I moved here for work and that’s when I got into exploring its many facets to my heart’s content. Moving away for a while to another city, got me comparisons and then I was homesick for it. Ultimately moved back and today I am writing about my love for one unique feature of this city that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Being an art and architecture student with a love for history and a passion for photography, I sought out the ancient monuments of Delhi with relish. Walking among the well maintained to the very ruined ones; the feeling of being a part of history is very much there. You might argue that other Indian cities have so many monuments too; trust me the way they are in Delhi, I didn’t find them anywhere like this.
It’s almost as if a monument in Delhi is a commonplace item. You might be in the heart of a plush market or colony and there would be a historical remnant just off its centre. Hidden or in plain sight, the monuments make for an ethereal picture of how the past blends in with the future. They are the most natural part of Delhi landscape and for me a comforting sign of being home.
I have explored maybe about 10 odd monuments in my 20 years in Delhi and there are still many more to discover for me. Let me take you through three of my most favourite out of all of these.
Agrasen Ki Baoli
Agrasen Ki baoli is a deep step well, carved into the bowels of the earth with its multi arched chambers and steps that seem to disappear down into nothingness. You might have seen this one in PK – the Aamir Khan starrer movie. The baoli is part of Lutyens Delhi of smart buildings and wide roads. It’s located in Hailey lane, just off Kasturba Gandhi Marg in Connaught Place. Once you get in there, the peace and calm is surprising as the noise of traffic is cut out by its thick walls. Standing in its courtyard, you can catch glimpses of tops of tall corporate buildings of CP. Yet the feeling is very much being a part of history and lore.
Safdarjung’s tomb, just off Lodhi road is another beautiful monument that forms an integral part of an extremely busy intersection. Surrounded by lush green foliage of trees from yore, this tomb is an oft visited place by scores of visitors every day. The entrance has gorgeous blue and green tones in its arched gate and lends you a view of the tomb inside. One has to walk down a long pathway, flanked by tall palm trees on the side while a water strip with fountains divides it into the middle. A Mughal styled charbagh garden is one of its most prominent features. Built in red and buff colored sandstone, it borrows architectural details from the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s tomb.
Humayun’s tomb was built by Mughal Emperor Humayun’s first wife and is located in the heart of Nizammudin area, just off the railway station. It’s one of my most favourite spot to haunt for a photographic jaunt in winters. Several cultural programmes are held in its premises every winters and are a must attend event for the celebratti of Delhi. It holds the distinction of being the first garden tomb to be commissioned in the Indian sub-continent. Built completely out of red sandstone and while marble, it shares similarities with the Taj Mahal. The tomb is built within a 30 acre garden that’s typically the Mughal Charbagh or the four square garden. It’s a big favourite with several morning walkers living around the tomb.
The architecture borrows unique patterns from several styles like Rajasthani, Turkish Persian, etc and the amalgamation doesn’t seem out of place at all. White marble can be noted on the flooring, arches, eaves and borders on the cladding of doorways. The entire tomb is elevated by a few steps and has over 50 cells in its plinth all around. The central dome is built in Persian style and is the first to tomb to have the double dome style which lends immense volume to the white interiors. In fact the white interiors make for a dramatic change from the red façade and upon entering inside; it does take a while to adjust to the contrast.
ASI has recently worked on restoring and renovating the entire complex which consists of other noteworthy monuments like Isa Khan’s tomb and mosque, Arab Ki serai, Barber’s tomb, Afsarwala’s tomb, etc.
Have you ever visited the monuments of Delhi? What do you think of them?
An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.
Read about the annual cake mixing ceremony at the Park Hotel , New Delhi Here
This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo
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