Before the Second World War, Lady Willingdon*, wife of the Governor General, landscaped the area around several mausoleums housing the remains of rulers of Delhi from 1444 – 1526. This required evicting people living in settlements around the tombs. Lady Willingdon Park was renamed Lodi Gardens after Independence. It is well worth a visit for a calm, pleasant walk.
It is a charming spot with beautiful lawns, stands of native trees with lots of birdlife, an ornamental lake traversed by a stone bridge. Each morning there are yoga classes on the grass and middle-aged Delhiites walk and jog around the paths in an attempt to keep fit.
The first tomb I visited was the oldest, built to house the remains of Mohammed Shah, last of the Sayyid rulers of Delhi. It is a mixture of Persian and Rajasthani architecture.
The gardens are popular places for newlyweds to have the photographs taken. A photographer had posed this couple under a palm tree whilst an assistant held up the bride’s orange scarf, flinging it up in the air to drift down while the camera snapped away at ten frames a second. I still managed to get his hand in the corner of the shot.
In the centre of the gardens there are two domed structures (gumbads), the Bara Gumbad (big dome) with an attached mosque and the Shisha Gumbad (glass dome), which retains a few blue glazed tiles on its roof. The latter is a tomb.
I took some photographs of young people walking through the gardens and the gumbads.
Two of the security guards were eating a late lunch inside the Bara Gumbad. They offered to share it with me, so I tore off a bit of roti and dipped it into the sauce. It tasted great. I passed on the unpickled onions.
In the northern part of the gardens stands the tomb of Sikander (Alexander) Lodi, the last Sultan of Delhi whose army was defeated at the Battle of Panipat by Babur, heralding the beginning of the Mughal era.
At the southern end, there is a miniature forest of bonsai trees. If you have walked the 90 acres of the gardens, reward yourself with a drink and a snack at the posh Lodi Garden Restaurant.
*Lady Willingdon also gave her name to a road in Lutyens New Delhi – now renamed Mother Theresa Crescent, an airfield – now renamed Safdarjang Airport, and a hospital – now renamed Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.Sic gloria transit mundi.