On an early April morning as the spring was slowly giving in to summer in New Delhi, we went to Safdarjung's Tomb on a Sunday for the photo-shoot. Driving along Aurobindo Marg from AIIMS, we crossed the bridge at Safdarjung airport and neared Lodi Road…a short deviation from the main road brought us to the large parking lot meant for the visitors. As the tomb attracts a few discerning tourists during the day, the entire place appeared quite sleepy in the early morning. The counter for entry ticket (Rs.5.00 for Indians; Rs.100.00 for foreigners) was closed but the security at the gate was kind enough to allow us to enter the mausoleum.
The entrance was double-storied with an ornately painted arch that lead us into a very well laid out garden, styled on Mughal Gardens. The environs with vast stretches of lawns fringed by tall palm trees and water bodies were well maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Walking through the garden, we noted the inscriptions on a sand stone plaque erected by ASI.
The mausoleum, built in 1754 AD by Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah, was dedicated to his father, Mirza Abul Mansoor Khan, who was bestowed with the title of Safdarjung. Earlier a powerful Governor of Oudh during the reigns of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah (1719-48), Safdarjung eventually became the Prime Minister to Emperor Ahmad Shah (1748-54). He breathed his last in 1754. A famous Government hospital, a road where Mrs. Indira Gandhi lived, a lane, two localities and a small airport in New Delhi were all named after Safdarjung.
The main mausoleum has two levels with the tombs of Safdarjung and his wife housed in the upper level. Around the majestic central structure of the mausoleum, lie three beautiful pavilions namely, 'Moti Mahal', 'Jungli Mahal' and 'Badshah Pasand'. Sadarjung's Tomb has been described as 'the last flicker in Mughal architecture' by the historians.
I got busy with my camera capturing the garden, the minarets and intricately curved mausoleum interiors awash with the early morning sun. Though generally not included in a typical Delhi tourist itinerary, one should visit Safdarjung's Tomb for imbibing tranquility amongst its sylvan surrounding and grand architecture.
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