Delhiwale: Lesser-known historical edifices

In a city where almost all monuments commemorate male rulers, it is a relief to come across centuries-old landmarks enshrined to women— who, additionally, might have nothing to do with royalty.
Updated on Oct 30, 2020 06:54 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByMayank Austen Soofi

Every granny needs a monument. And every granddaughter, another one close by.

This double requirement is perfectly fulfilled in south Delhi’s breezy Green Park locality, which is home to two of the city’s lesser-known historical edifices—Dadi-Poti ka gumbad (big dome), or the domes of grandmother-granddaughter.

Both stand next to each other, perched upon a gentle slope. This evening, there’s no one around. The setting sun is streaming through the leafy foliage of surrounding trees. The Aurobindo Market is a stone’s throw away, but this compound radiates such intense vibes of solitude that it is hard to imagine any shopping place for miles around.

That’s not what makes this twin monument so special.

In a city where almost all monuments commemorate male rulers, it is a relief to come across centuries-old landmarks enshrined to women— who, additionally, might have nothing to do with royalty. They might indeed be as common as we are. One can only regret not knowing who these two women were, beside being somebody’s “Dadi” and “Poti”.

But well, here’s a blooper. According to the all-knowing Archaeological Survey of India slab, the names for these tombs were “perhaps coined (so) because of the fact that one tomb is bigger than the other.” It adds that there is absolutely no information about who were buried there.

Whatever, the buildings evoke the melancholy caused by faded grandeur. The walls are especially impressive—very rough, and composed of uneven chunks of rubble, as if the monuments had been built, then immediately demolished, and quickly rustled up again from the broken stones.

It is dark and musty inside the bigger mausoleum, Dadi’s gumbad. About half a dozen graves lie on the eastern side. Sky light is streaming in from a pair of arched entrances placed side-by-side, like two friends whispering into each other’s ears. Through another opening, one can enjoy the glimpses of a lush bougainvillea tree. One more opening, high up towards the ceiling, gives a view of Poti’s gumbad. Its entrance is locked.

According to the book Delhi, the Built Heritage, Dadi’s dates to the Lodhi era and Poti’s is from the age of Tughlaqs.

By now, two other visitors have come. Both are lying on the grassy slope, their back turned towards the gumbads. The man’s head is on the woman’s shoulder, almost romantically.

What will Dadi say?

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Sunday, December 05, 2021