Friday, November 5, 2010

Summer Travels 2010 - Part 17: The Gardens of Safdarjung's Tomb in Delhi, India

I know I have been posting about gardens I visited this summer for a while but this will actually be second-to-last of those posts. After visiting Hyderabad I made another stop in Delhi before returning to the US. Among the sights I visited there is the Tomb of Safdarjung, a mausoleum built in 1754 for Safdar Jang (صفدرجنگ), the Iranian-born Nawab of Awadh and one of the most influential courtiers and politicians of the waning Mughal Empire of that period.

The Tomb of Safdarjung as seen through the entrance gate

View towards the entrance gate from the terrace below the mausoleum

Rows of royal palms (Roystonea regia) and cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens)

The tomb garden is a classical Persianate quadripartite or chahar bagh garden. It is not nearly as popular with tourists as the older, larger, and much more famous tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and at the time of my late-afternoon visit I had the complex almost entirely to myself. Constance Villiers Stuart also described the mausoleum garden in her famous 1913 book Gardens of the Great Mughals. She writes the following:

Safdar Jang's garden still keeps the ancient form: the central tomb, the four watercourses, and the four buildings to which they lead; one of which is, as usual, a fine entrance gateway; the others in this case are pavilions, and living rooms built into the walls. The octagonal corner towers are still to be seen; and the garden was once full of fruit trees; but the water-ways have changed. Instead of the small fountain basis, the great tanks, and the raised walks of brick or stone with the canal running down between them, the paths are now on the general level of the garden, while the canal itself has become four oblong tanks, one on each side of the mausoleum. These are raised above the paths and still further edged with a stone border about a foot high, so that almost half of the charm of its reflection is lost. The style, however, is still pleasing, and is well suited to the climate; but, on the other hand, it has become rather a cold, dull formality, different from the variety and adaptability of the earlier designs.

I am not sure if I agree with the last part. To me, rather than a "cold, dull formality", the design of this place actually seems more playful than some of the more famous Mughal garden, though I guess it lacks their grandeur.

View from the interior of the tomb along one of the canals towards the outer wall

Decorative patterns on the ceiling of the mausoleum

Another view of the mausoleum amid the trees

While it has a slight air of neglect, the Tomb of Safdarjung it is a charming spot and deserves a visit. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this small tour!

1 comment:

  1. More very nice garden and places. I sure want to visit india some day.


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