Mausoleum of Sikander Lodi.

File fact: The mausoleum of Sikandar Lodi is taken to be the first of the garden mausoleums built in the sub continent. Inspired in parts by Muhammad Shah’s Mausoleum situated a little distance away, its most visibly distinguishing feature is its octagonal plan and garden inside. Out of the two types of tombs constructed during the period, the octagonal design appear to be associated with royalty than the more numerous square type. The tomb was an innovation in mausoleum complexes built during the reign of the Delhi Sultanates.

In AD 1489, an Afghan prince born of a Hindu woman, contested his right to sit on the throne of Delhi. Chosen by his father but opposed by nobles in favour of an elder brother, he had two options before him: Fade into obscurity or make history. Afghan honour dictated he choose the later. Even before he was crowned king of the warlike Afghan tribesmen who held sway over much of North India at that time, Sikandar Lodi proved he had the mettle to be a great one.

Shrewd and determined, he crushed his adversaries with the might of the Afghan army then robbed his elder brother of his birthright to rule. Yet in victory he displayed not the customary ruthlessness expected of a medieval prince but clemency. Considered the greatest of the three Lodi sultans, Sikandar’s 28 year reign resurrected the prestige of the Delhi Sultanate and won the Pashtun Afghans a place in history.

Devoted to his people and his religion, he expanded the boundaries of his kingdom, enriched it by encouraging trade, commerce, art and architecture, and championed Islam- much to the ire of the subjugated Hindu populace. In turn his people gifted him with a mausoleum as unique as the ruler who led them. Commissioned by his son, the exquisite work of Indo-Islamic architecture of its time was to be the first of the garden tombs in the sub continent- and an inspiration for the much grander Humayun’s tomb complex built by the Mughals in later years.

The Mausoleum.

Enclosed within a raised fortified complex, with two dome shaped Chattris (umbrella shaped domes) at the main entrance, the octagonal mausoleum sits in the middle of a large garden. The housing space is ringed by a wide veranda with lightly carved pillars placed at measured intervals.

Crowning the head of the mausoleum is a single dome with a lotus finial at the top. The interior is ornamented with tiles beneath which is a single tomb. The compound outside has an open air mosque built into the western wall with a paved platform for holy men to offer prayers for the soul of the sultan.

Indo-Islamic architecture.

Indo-Islamic architecture is the use of Hindu and Islamic elements in combination. The trend begun when Hindu artisans were forced to create Islamic structures for the Delhi Sultans who having arrived in India on conquest and plunder lacked artisans and architects.

Under later dynasties, Islamic immigrants trickling into the realm (and in greater numbers during the Mongol invasion of the Middle East) added to the talent pool with newer ideas and authentic Middle Eastern styles. The mix of styles and use of elements gradually evolved overtime reaching its pinnacle under the Mughals.

The Period.

Delhi Sultanate was a series of five short lived Islamic dynasties that ruled large parts of India (AD 1206 to AD 1526) from their base in Delhi. Largely of Turkic and Afghan stock, the sultans of the era are credited for spreading Islam in the sub continent and sowing in the seeds of Indo-Islamic art, music and architecture. Internal feuds, rebellions and military invasions by foreign powers largely contributed to their individual short tenures.

The dynasty: Lodi Dynasty.

The Lodis were the last rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Members of an ethic Afghan tribe (also known as Pathans), they migrated into the sultanate as traders. Then enlisting as soldiers under earlier dynasties rose in power and status finally taking over the throne of Delhi in AD 1451. The dynasty was founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi, Governor of Sirhind (in present day Punjab) and ended with the defeat and death of third generation Ibrahim Lodi, the son of Sikandar Lodi in AD 1526 – ushering in the era of the Mughals.

Plan a visit.

The monument is located within the premises of Lodi Gardens in Lodi Colony, New Delhi. The park is open on all days. Best time to visit is between sunrise and sunset.Entry is free and no fee is charged for photography.Closest metro station is the Jor Bagh metro station. One can also reach the park from the Central Secretariat metro station via an auto rickshaw.

Travel Tip: The mausoleum of Sikandar Lodi lies close to the Mughal eight pier bridge (built at a later date) commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar. Interested visitors can check out both monuments in a single visit or spend time with nature on the shores of an artificial lake with ducks for company.


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