“We will be remembered only if we give to our younger generation a prosperous and safe India, resulting out of economic prosperity coupled with civilizational heritage.”
– APJ Abdul Kalam, former President
The gorgeously ornamented, perfectly proportioned and painstakingly restored Lodi-era (AD 1451-1517) mausoleum conspicuously located at Lado Serai where intersect the arterial Mehrauli-Badarpur and Mehrauli-Gurgaon highways had long evaded me, that is until I discovered it – or rather fellow writer Rangan Datta (blogs at rangandatta.wordpress.com), who accompanied me in this particular explorative sojourn to the ancient settlement at Mehrauli village, intuitively discovered it. In retrospection, it undoubtedly perplexes me that I had earlier embarrassingly failed to locate this tiny monument so prominently situated, and I can only ashamedly cite the overshadowing presence of massive ancient trees with huge gnarled branches and immeasurably dense foliage that shields the strikingly elegant edifice from the prickly prying eyes of the ceaseless riverine flow of heavy traffic and pedestrians along these immense multilane avenues.
Although exceedingly unremarkable in terms of architectural features and artistic adornments, especially vis-à-vis the grander, extravagantly adorned monuments that gracefully litter every single section of Delhi’s vast undulating landscape, the heartwarming little mausoleum does proudly display the telltale Lodi-era architectural accomplishments – dexterously conceived and executed plasterwork medallions, precisely delineated “Kangura” patterns (battlement-like leitmotif ornamentation), splendidly tapering slender decorative minarets, a remarkable emphasis on flawless symmetry and proportionality of spatial dimensions and, the most visually alluring of all, the employment of vibrant violet-blue glazed tiles handsomely contrasting against the overall weathered red-brown hue and the resilient coarseness of texture. Inside, the mihrab (western wall of a religious/funerary structure indicating the direction of Mecca, faced by the faithful while offering namaz prayers) is envisaged as a thoroughly-detailed kaleidoscopic pattern culminating into an alluring extravaganza of geometric and floral patterns, exquisite calligraphy and meticulously intricate circular medallions. The life history and administrative/regal station of the miniature mausoleum’s original occupant are not recorded in contemporary historical epitaphs and literary documents, however till very recently, the lovely edifice was horrifically utilized by avaricious, land-starved locals as a storehouse and a motor garage!
Nearby, progressively collapsing to wretched obliteration is a derelict wall fragment adorned with ornamental kangura patterns and pointed-arch openings – perhaps a supplementary freestanding qibla (same as a mihrab) – it is worth pondering over that the Indian National Trust for Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) who undertook the conservation-restoration of the diminutive mausoleum and horticulturally developed the grass-shrouded stretch of land around it into “Gumbad Park” to beautify it on the occasion of Commonwealth Games (CWG XIX 2010) skipped this crumbling wall fragment. Some aesthetic-minded inhabitants of this ancient city still romantically prefer derelict ruins over painstakingly restored monuments that would withstand the relentless ravages of the elements for several successive generations. A pity, ironically so considering that it lies in the immediate vicinity of the majestically soaring Qutb Minar, Delhi’s most well preserved and regularly monitored monument!
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Location: Approximately 250 meters from Lado Serai intersection towards Badarpur (Coordinates: 28°31'24.2"N 77°11'31.8"E)
Nearest Metro station: Saket (approximately 1 kilometer away)
Nearest Bus stop: Lado Serai crossing
Nearest Railway station: Tughlaqabad
How to reach: All buses plying on Mehrauli-Badarpur and Mahipalpur-Gurgaon roads stop at Lado Serai crossing. Walk/avail a bus/auto from Saket or Qutb Minar metro stations.
Entrance fees: Nil
Photography/Video charges: Nil
Time required for sightseeing: 20 min
Other monuments/landmarks located in the immediate vicinity -