The city of Delhi is probably the most happening city of India. One can even say that it breathes of multiculturalism, and the localities of Delhi know how to live peacefully asking men of a different culture, while also having utmost fun with it.
The architecture and the heritage of the city speak volume about itself. It is one of the few cities of India where one will find a local who can be the native of any part of India, be it from the south, north-east of the western parts of India.
Such is the diversity and culture of this city. Delhi, which is situated in the ‘heart’ of India can surely be called the literal heart of the nation just because of its take on the Indian culture and the unity in diversity of the nation. In this city, one finds the beautiful and the ever so holy Safdarjung Tomb.
Safdarjung Tomb Overview
The Safdarjung Tomb New Delhi is the last built Mughal structure in the country, which was built for one of the later Mughal Prime Ministers Nawab Safdarjung.
The time speaks by itself about its later Mughal period architecture and can be seen having a dominating shadow over anyone and everyone who visits the place. The tomb is the last one to be built in the garden enclosed tradition of Humayun’s tomb.
But it is in no way as large and magnanimous as it. The tomb, along with the main structure also has some other smaller pavilions attached to it, giving it a palace-like look. These pavilions also have their own names, which one might find rather peculiar.
This heritage location also has a madrasa (Islamic school), which today is a library and is maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.
The tomb in itself is an extremely beautiful structure which is sometimes called as ‘the last lamp of Mughal architecture in Delhi’ by many historians and architecture experts. One can only understand its glorious and extravagant beauty only after paying a visit to this structure. Let us have a detailed look at the Safdarjung tomb.
Safdarjung Tomb History
The tomb has quite a history behind itself. Many think that Safdarjung tomb Delhi Sultanate is a thing, but when you look at who built Safdarjung tomb, you will come to see that it was built during the Mughal era, not in the era of the Delhi Sultanate.
The tomb was built in the memory of Mirza Muqim Abul Mansur Khan in the year 1754, who was also popularly known as Safdarjung. Safdarjung was an independent ruler of Awadh who had a very big empire. He ruled Awadh under the Viceroyalty of the Mughals.
At one point in history, it is said that he was the richest man in India. The Nawab moved to Delhi after the death of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. When Ahmad Shah Bahadur ascended the Mughal throne in 1748, Safdarjung was made the Prime Minister or locally called ‘Vizier’ of the Mughal kingdom.
His official title went as ‘Wazir ul-Mamalik-i-Hindustan’. Even though the Mughal dynasty was at its decline when Nawab Safdarjung became the Prime Minister of India (or the Mughal kingdom) it still impacted a lot of people, especially the people of North India, where the Mughals were still rulers.
It is said that Safdarjung had an extremely big influence in the Mughal court. So much so, that in many historical accounts, the Mughal king is considered all but a ‘puppet’ king of the Vizier. It was Safdarjung who was thought to have snatched away almost all the political and kingly power at that time.
The figurehead king was far away from kindly matters, dividing most of his time between wine, opium and the carnal pleasures of women.
With time, the control of the Vizier tightened over the Mughal King Ahmad Shah Bahadur, it reached certain levels of cruelty where it started affecting the Mughal family.
Safdarjung was later dismissed by the Mughal Emperor from his duties and the king had to ask for the help of the Marathas, who had to fight off the Vizier from Delhi.
Nawab Mirza Muqim then again ran off to his kingdom of Awadh in the latter part of the year 1753. A year later, in 1754, Nawab Safdarjung died at the age of 46 in Sultanpur.
After his death, it was his son Nawab Shuja-ud Daula who took his pleads to the ear of the Mughal Emperor so that he can have the permission to build a tomb for his father in Delhi. The Emperor finally heeded to the repeated pleas and granted permission to build the tomb as Nawab Safdarjung’s final resting place.
His son then got the tomb constructed, which if believed is designed by an unnamed Abyssinian architect. So, even though the tomb has Mughal architecture, the Safdarjung tomb was built by his son Shuja-ud Daula and not by the Mughal King, which many people don’t know about. The history of the tomb is certainly an interesting one, with a lot many twists and turns involved in it.
Safdarjung Tomb Architecture
The Safdarjung tomb architecture consists of Mughal style construction, which can be seen in the material used to build it, which is red sandstone. Also, the small detailed work which ornaments it. If sources are to be believed, it was designed by an unnamed Abyssinian architect.
The tomb is considered to be the last monumental tomb garden of the Mughals which was built on the line of Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb. The slabs used in the construction of this architectural marvel are from the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, who was one of the favorite courtiers of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great.
There are four key features to this tomb-the first one is the ‘Char Bagh plan‘ which has the mausoleum of Nawab Safdarjung in the center, the second one is a nine-fold floor plan, the third being a facade divided into five different parts and the fourth and final one being a large podium which also has a hidden stairway.
The walls of the main dome are built quite high. It has a height of about 92 meters. When you enter the tomb, you come across the double-storeyed main gate and its facade, which has beautifully ornamented designs on its plastered surfaces and it is painted in ornate purple color.
From there, you enter the main tomb, which has some beautiful Mughal era architecture with a hint of the later Mughal period construction, breathtakingly beautiful. It seems quite a befitting resting place for someone of the stature of Safdarjung, who had an enormous control and influence over the Mughal Empire in his best days.
There is a visible quote in Arabic which translates to “When the hero of plain bravery departs from the transitory, may he become a resident of god’s paradise”.
After you enter through the gateway and look at the backside of the entrance, you will see many rooms and a library. Towards the right, there is a mosque having a structure of three domes which is marked with stripes.
The Safdarjung Tomb Delhi is built in the style of Taj Mahal. But when you try to find more about Safdarjung tomb history and its architectural connection with the Taj Mahal, you will see that though their facade is similar, the tomb’s facade lacks symmetry which makes the tomb look unbalanced. But one can say that the minarets at four different corners being the part of the main tomb are different from Taj, where the minarets are away from the tomb and not a part of it.
Architectural experts are both in awe of the mausoleum while also being critical of it. Many architects criticize the construction of the mausoleum due to the asymmetrical and hasty construction. Some also criticize it for the poor quality of materials which had been used to build it.
The critics are even critical of the color of the walls which arose due to the low-quality construction materials used. Many say that this poor quality of sandstone and other construction material happened due to the Mughal Empire being at their decline at the time of the tomb’s construction, because of which we see asymmetrical patterns and lower quality of construction materials. Nevertheless, it is still a place worth a visit, mainly due to its architectural beauty.
Things to See in Safdarjung Tomb
Main Safdarjung Tomb
The main tomb of the mausoleum is where one would find the final resting place of the Nawab for whom the tomb was built. It is the place because of which the whole structure had to be constructed. The mausoleum is made of red sandstone and buff, just like many other Mughal monuments.
Seeing it whilst entering through the main entrance gives quite a view of it. The square-shaped central chamber consists of eight partitions with an empty tomb right in the middle. The tomb’s interior is plastered around by the magnanimous rococo plaster combined with other decorations and ornaments.
Around the main tomb, one would find four other polygon shaped towers at the corners. Each tower has its own kiosk. Each tower also boasts of faded marble panels and beautiful arches.
The tomb also has an underground chamber where one will find the mortal remains of Nawab Safdarjung and his wife, resting peacefully in their final place of being.
It is truly a place of tranquil and serenity, which is both due to the construction style of the place and also due to the fact that it is in fact, a tomb where Nawab Safdarjung and his wife are resting peacefully in their graves.
Moti Mahal is one of the pavilions which are constructed within the tomb. The Moti Mahal is the pavilion which has been laid out in the northern part of the tomb. It is built in the center of the northern enclosure wall.
It is an arcaded multi-chambered spacious pavilion which has been built on a raised platform. This type of construction is a stark representation of the architecture from the period of the later Mughals. It is also identical to the pa millions built in the southern and western sides.
The arcaded pavilion, ‘Moti Mahal‘ has storage tanks on either corner of its roof and is connected to a covered channel which runs through the northern enclosure of the wall of this pavilion. The northern part of the fountain is made operational with the help of the tanks connected to the water channel on this pavilion.
The Jangli Mahal is another one of those pavilions who were constructed in the tomb. This pavilion has been laid out in the western direction of the tomb. It draws architectural similarities with the other two pavilions, one of them being the Moti Mahal.
The Jangli Mahal is a multi-chambered and is arcaded, just like the other two pavilions. All three arcaded pavilions had provisions for the storage of water.
The water, which when released went through the tanks above the roof and cascades under the platforms used to make the fountains in the water channels of the garden operational.
There are overhead tanks placed on either corner of the pavilion’s roof. As expected, it is clearly connected with the water channels of the garden, making the fountain from the western direction operational. The tank has its connection enclosed through the western wall of the pavilion.
This pavilion was constructed at the southernmost end of the tomb. This south-facing and arcaded pavilion have been erected on a very high podium which is perched on the southern enclosure wall and is embellished with the beautifully carved ceiling, all in red sandstone.
One can see beautiful geometric and floral patterns revealing themselves to the human eye. This specific pavilion is found with a storage tank on its eastern side. Unlike the other pavilions, its water channel is not enclosed but uncovered.
The tank is connected with the uncovered water channel which flows through the southern enclosure wall. It makes the southern part of the fountain in the garden operational.
All the three pavilions had the Nawab’s family reside in them at a certain point in time.
The water channel of the Safdarjung tomb is a well-connected system of the waterway which makes the fountains of the garden operational. There are four fountains on each of the four sides, all of them being currently not under operation.
The craftily constructed fountains and water channels take their water supply from the overhead tanks attached on to the roofs of each of the pavilions which are present in the southern, northern and western corners of the tomb.
The water channels, along with the garden form the beautiful outside part of the tomb, which looks beautiful with the fountains at work. Almost all old architecture had room for rainwater harvesting, and this place also follows suit in that regard. The overhead water tanks recycle hai rainwater and use that for the water channels.
The Char Bagh is the beautiful, lush green garden located just outside the main tomb. It is what everyone generally calls the Safdarjung Tomb garden. Together with the water channel, it gives the tomb an extremely royal and magnanimous look.
This large square garden surrounds the tomb and is itself surrounded by walls which are around 920 meters in height. The garden has been laid out in the form of four squares which has wide footpaths and water tanks, which are again divided into smaller squares.
This garden is called Char Bagh because it is built in the ‘Char Bagh‘ garden style which had been adopted by the Mughals. Also, this garden is but a smaller copy of the garden which is located at Humayun’s tomb. From the garden, all the different things at the Safdarjung tomb are visible.
One channel from the garden leads to the main entrance gate. The other one leads to the three pavilions, which now have the offices of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in them. One can also see the main podium over which the whole mausoleum is built. It is 50 meters in height.
All the pavilions, octagon pillars and chhatris, different entrances, the courtyard and the mosque from a specific part of the garden, and are visible from the green fields itself. The garden makes Safdarjung Tomb for couples a great place to hang out.
The publication counter at the Safdarjung tomb is located at the main gate of the tomb where one can also find the library which is under the maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India.
At the publication counter, one can find all sorts of literature related to the tomb and the people involved in the history of its construction.
One who has a deep interest in history and architecture would love to spend a good deal of time at this counter, as there is a lot of things which they can learn about this tomb, the Mughal Empire, Later Mughal architecture and most importantly, Nawab Safdarjung and the Mughal Emperor at that time. All of this literature is extremely valuable and is not easily available everywhere.
How to Reach Safdarjung Tomb
It is important to know stuff like Safdarjung Tomb nearest metro station, Safdarjung Tomb ticket and other important Safdarjung tomb information before visiting the place so that you do not become prey to unnecessary confusion which spoils your trip.
Safdarjung Tomb Address
The address of Safdarjung tomb is Safdarjung Tomb, Airforce Golf Course, Delhi Race Club, New Delhi, Delhi 110021. It is located at the intersection of Safdarjung Road and Aurobindo Marg.
Nearest Metro Station to Safdarjung Tomb
The nearest metro station to the Safdarjung tomb is the Jor Bagh metro station from where it takes only about 3 minutes to reach the tomb. One can reach the metro station via the yellow line metro.
Reaching Safdarjung Tomb by Road
The Safdarjung tomb location is quite a prime one. If you are traveling there by bus, you should buy the ticket either to the Jor Bagh bus stop or the Safdarjung Madarsa bus stop. One can even visit this location by air if they choose to land at the Safdarjung Airport, which is the nearest airport to the tomb.
Safdarjung Tomb Tickets
The Safdarjung tomb tickets cost about Rs. 15 for Indians and Rs. 200 for foreigners. The Safdarjung tomb parking facilities are also available and fee-only Rs. 20/ The Safdarjung tomb photography ticket costs Rs. 25 for a video camera. For a still camera, there is no ticket, meaning that it is free to take a still camera with you.
Safdarjung Tomb Timings
Initially, the Safdarjung Tomb Timings were from 7 am in the morning to 6 pm in the evening, on all days of the week.
But now, since the July of 2019, the Union government had illuminated special LED light frames on the arches, pavilions, chhatris and on the tomb, which will be open for the public to view from 7 P.M. to 11 P.M.
on all days of the week. It is a special initiative done on many other tourist heritage monuments of Delhi also so that the tourism industry gets a boost.
In the end, one can conclude about the Safdarjung tomb that it is a place of great heritage and magnanimous architecture, which while adorns the city of Delhi, also highlights the decline of the Mughal dynasty.
Today, it is a very well-recognized tourist location, for extremely good reason and manages to attract a lot of tourists, both locals, and non-locals to itself.
Its extremely interesting yet complex history, combined with the intricately detailed architecture, the lush green fields and the serenity it has in store for a visitor, it surely is a must-visit location for everyone.
It is a perfect family spot where you can enjoy even as a couple. Children who visit here can also learn a lot about the history of Delhi. In short, do not waste your time looking for other historical monuments, as none compares to the grandeur of the Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi.