16th century Subz Burj now a traffic roundabout | delhi | Hindustan Times
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16th century Subz Burj now a traffic roundabout

Wrongly known by many Delhiites as Neela Gumbad, it was used as a police station during the British period. Nivedita Khandekar writes.

delhi Updated: Feb 17, 2013 00:47 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

At the junction of Lodhi Road and Mathura Road stands tall the 16th century Subz Burj, a circular island that has now been turned into a traffic roundabout.

Its original meaning notwithstanding -- Subz Burj literally means a green domed tower --- most people mistakenly call it Neela Gumbad or Neeli Gumbad. But no one seems to know the purpose of the burj or who is buried there.

This Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected octagonal tomb has four wide and four narrow sides. The high drummed double dome is covered with blue tiles.

Ravi Batra writes in 'The Splendour of Lodi Road: My Brush With Heritage': "Some of the original small green, blue and yellow tiles on the main drum that supports the dome can still be seen. The dome is not green but blue, as the original tiles were replaced by the ASI in the 1980s. Some may fault the ASI for changing the colour but my own little research on Timurid architecture shows that most monuments in Central Asia have blue domes. So were the original tiles green or blue?"

The place was used as a police station during the British period, according to 'Delhi Police: History and Heritage', a 2006 publication. It also mentions it as Neeli Gumbad.

"Since my childhood, I have heard everybody call it Neela Gumbad because of the blue tiles on the dome. I was not aware that it is actually called Subz Burj," said Wasim Ali, a resident of Nizamuddin Basti.