As I said earlier, November is the best time in Delhi – barring February which has the value additionof all the winter flowers in bloom. And it is not short of places to visit, either! So on Sunday Gopal and I headed for Safderjung Tomb on the Metro. He had shown interest in a Metro ride and I felt that Sunday was the best day to make that trip.
Unfortunately, the first experience was not so good as we reached HUDA City Center around 11 am and the ticket lines were long. To add to that, our line stopped moving and we learnt that the counter had run out of the plastic coupons. And as often happens in such situations, there were jostling people, loud words, etc.. which upset Gopal considerably. Finally we did get the coupon and then it all went well. In spite of it being a Sunday, and we were boarding at the first station on the route, we did not get a seat all the way to Jor Bagh.
We got off at Jor Bagh and walked the short distance to Safderjung Tomb. This is one of the last of the Mughal era structures in Delhi, having been built as late as 1734. It is a musoleum of Safderjung, the powerful prime minister of Muhammed Shah who was the weak Mughal emperor from 1719 to 1748.The central tomb has a huge dome and four water canals lead to four buildings. One leads to an ornately decorated gateway and the other three to pavilions, with living quarters built into the walls. These now house offices and guest house of the Archeological survey of India.
Although located very centrally, it rates low on the monument rich tourist circuit of the city. This is an advantage as it is seldom crowded, and we had a leisurely tour of the tomb and its sorroundings without being jostled by the crowds as is often the case in Qutab or Red Fort. After relaxing in the well maintained gardens (what better way to spend a warm November morning!), we walked out, crossed the road walked a few hundred metres down Lodhi Road and entered the Lodhi Gardens.
Since India Habitat Centre and India International Center (Venues for many conferences and other events in Delhi) are located close by, I must have driven past these gates many a times in the last few years. But, I was walking in the Gardens after a few decades. One reads of references to the morning walks in these gardens by many of the ‘who-is-who’ of Delhi, but the personal experience was just wonderful. It is the Delhi equivalent of Hyde Park in London (which I walked through last year) or Central Park in New York (which I have jogged along with many, in myriads of Bolly and Hollywood movies).
The Gardens were bustling with groups of picknickers (including a kiddy birthday party), mid-day joggers, dog walkers, groups of friends strolling through and of course, the many young lovers! The 100 or so acres of these Gardens house a number of structures – Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. These structures were built almost 2 centuries before Safderjung’s tomb, and while the latter marks the end of the Mughal period, these just pre-date the Mughals. Sikander Lodi was the most famous of the Lodis, who was defearted by Babur in 1517.
There is also a lovely water body in the park with a large number of swans and ducks. After a leisurely stroll, through the park we walked down the road for lunch at Khan Market, another site that was an integral part of our childhood in Delhi. And Gopal was thrilled to revisit Faquir Chand, which was the shop where we got our usual birthday gift of a book.