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The poor man’s Humayun’s Tomb

entertainment Updated: Oct 28, 2010 01:35 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
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If Humayun’s Tomb is the poor man’s Taj Mahal, then Safdarjang’s Tomb (1753) is the poor man's Humayun’s Tomb. Everything at Safdarjang’s is as it is at Humayun’s, but smaller — the gateway, the dome, the trees. The man himself was inferior in rank. Safdarjang was no Mughal royalty. He was the nawab of Oudh, who happened to die in Delhi. In his mausoleum, we saw no tourists, no lovers and no loners.

This complex is also the site of the head office of the Delhi circle of Archaeological Survey of India. There’s a library on the first floor of the gateway. But visitors can’t go up there.

We, however, did climb the not-so-steep stairs to reach the not-so-high platform of the tomb. No breath-taking scenery was to be seen from there. There was the manicured garden for sure, but we could also hear the traffic noise outside. During the afternoon, when rush hour dies, the place gets quiet.

While wandering in Safdarjang’s Tomb, it is likely that you might have a yearning for the original version, which is Humayun’s Tomb. If that happens, walk straight on the Lodhi Road. It will take half an hour to reach there.

One of the early Mughal-era monuments, Humayun’s Tomb was the first draft of Taj Mahal. Safdarjung’s Tomb came up during the dying years of the Mughal dynasty.

At first sight, it appears as if there was an attempt to re-create a Taj replica here but perhaps they ran out of marbles. And gold coins, too. So what we got instead is this seemingly faulty wreck that, sadly, does look like a mausoleum built to honour a less exalted man who did live in less glorious times.

If Humayun’s Tomb represent the might of the Mughals then Safdarjung’s mark their decline. But don’t be discouraged. Sometimes there is dignity in decline and that peculiar grace can be sensed here, under the soft sunlight of a late October afternoon. We think Safdarjang’s Tomb is heratbreakingly beautiful.

Fee: Rs 5 for Indians, Rs 100 for foreigners
Time: From sunrise to sunset
Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh