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Darya Khan tomb in Delhi to form part of a housing complex

Known for its ‘unusual’ architecture, the mausoleum with additional open space and a jogging track will be an added attraction to the government settlement being rebuilt by the NBCC.

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2018 04:09 IST
Parvez Sultan
Parvez Sultan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Darya Khan tomb,housing complex,Delhi
The edifice comprises the grave of Darya Khan Lohani, an influential official during the Lodi dynasty.(Sourced)

Amid the row over the felling of 1,700 trees for the redevelopment of east Kidwai Nagar in south Delhi, Darya Khan’s Tomb in the neighbourhood stands out as a green oasis.

Known for its ‘unusual’ architecture, the mausoleum with additional open space and a jogging track will be an added attraction to the government settlement being rebuilt by the NBCC.

The edifice dating to the Lodi era–comprising the grave of Darya Khan or Dariya Khan Lohani, an influential official during the Lodi dynasty– was earlier positioned on a traffic island and could be accessed only by a small bridge over a drain from South Extension.

After the redevelopment, the tomb will rest in one serene corner among the multi-storeyed apartments.

“The tomb earlier had two acres of green space. It has now been provided additional seven acres. Once developed completely, the complex, including the green area, will be spread over 14 acres,” a NBCC official privy to the redevelopment project said.

According to an information booklet prepared by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) about historic structuresin Siri, the fourth ancient city of Delhi established in the 14th century, Khan was the chief justice during Bahlol Lodi’s reign and a vakil (lawyer) during Sikandar Lodi’s rule.

Bahlol was the chief of the Pashtun Lodi tribe, who founded the Lodi dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. His coronation took place in April 1451. After his death, Sikandar assumed charge in July 1489.

The brochure says the exact date of its construction is not known but “the tomb dates to the early 16th century.”

“This is a unique construction. The structure is built on a three-tier platform with corner bastions on the lower level. The grave is at on the top level, having access by a set of stairs on three sides on a circular podium in the middle of the main platform. No tomb in Delhi is constructed like this,” said Rana Safvi, author and historian.

The remains indicate that the tomb had a colonnade and gateway on its eastern side.

The main platform is marked by chattris (domed pavilions) resting on thick square columns. Three of the domes are in a semi-ruined state with traces of incised plaster decorations and calligraphy on the interior surfaces.

The NBCC is refurbishing the tomb, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) project monument, as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

“The entire complex with additional green space will be guarded by a new steel fencing. A jogging track is being laid and solar panel-enabled lights are being installed. As the rainy season ends, we will plant the saplings here. When the occupants move into newly constructed apartments, they will have green and neat heritage structure in their neighbourhood,” the official said.

East Kidwai Nagar, a government pool residential accommodation (GPRA) built in the mid-1960s, will now have about 4,600 flats in various categories.

The developer recently handed over 210 new constructed flats to allottees for possession. More flats will be ready for occupation by the year-end, the official said.

Khan’s grave is revered and devotees from nearby neighbourhoods visit it to seek his blessings and for thanksgiving prayers after their wishes are fulfilled every Thursday.

“People offer jaggery and sometimes money. Diwali and Holi, there is a festival-like atmosphere here. A “caretaker” helps people to perform the rituals,” said Chandra Shekhar Singh, a staffer at the NBCC site.

Safvi said, “I have observed that residents in the neighbourhood worship there. Generations have been following this practice and consider the person buried in the tomb as their dada peer (family saint).”

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 04:09 IST