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Poor man’s Humayun Tomb

Everything at Safdarjung’s is as it is at Humayun’s, but smaller: the gateway, the dome, the trees, writes Mayank Austen Soofi.

art and culture Updated: Dec 17, 2008 18:46 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times

If Humayun’s Tomb is the poor man’s Taj Mahal, then Safdarjung’s Tomb (1753) is positively the poor man’s Humayun Tomb.

Everything at Safdarjung’s is as it is at Humayun’s, but smaller. The gateway, the dome, the trees. All look less imposing. Even the pool is dry. It seems no one loves this place. I see no tourists, no lovers, no loners.

Never mind. I climb the not-so-steep stairs to reach the not-so-high platform. No stunning scenery here. The structure itself looks out of sync with its intended design — like a bad copy of Humayun Tomb.

Why should it be otherwise? After all, Humayun was one of the great Mughals, while Safdarjung was just Oudh’s nawab. Does this make you miss the original? Don’t fret. Walk straight through Lodhi Road, and it will take just half-an- hour to reach Humayun’s.

One of the early Mug- hal-era monuments, Humayun’s Tomb is often described as the first draft of Taj Mahal. The Taj, of course, is the most dazzling dome the Mughals erected, while Safdarjung Tomb came up during the dying years of the Mughal dynasty.

At first sight, it appears as if there was an attempt to 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. Poor Mr Safdarjung.

If Humayun’s Tomb represent the might of the Mughals then Safdarjung’s mark their decline. But don’t lose heart. Sometimes there is dignity in decline and that peculiar grace can be sensed here, under the soft sunlight of a December afternoon.

Ticket Rs 5 (for Indians) Time sunrise to sunset.

First Published: Dec 16, 2008 20:26 IST