The structures in the Lodhi Gardens are also reflective of the era they were made. They also show the development of a distinct style of architecture – the Indo Islamic architecture which rose to its eminence during the Mughal era. One can see influences of different eras in the structures here – the Sayyid era influence is seen in Lodi era structures and the Lodi era influence is seen in Mughal era structures.
The last structure of importance which we saw in the Lodhi Gardens was the tomb of Sikandar Lodi. It could be the first structure when you enter the Lodhi Gardens from Rajesh Pilot Marg, but for us even though we entered the Lodhi Gardens from this entrance, it was the last structure we saw. It is located slightly on the outside and the pathway on the right just before Athpula leads to the tomb of Sikandar Lodi. It lies about 250 m north of the Sheesh Gumbad on the north western corner of Lodhi Garden.
Sikandar Lodi was the 2nd ruler of the Lodi dynasty and ruled from 1489 to 1517 CE. He was the son of Bahlul Lodhi. Sikandar Lodi’s tomb was built by his son Ibrahim Lodi in 1517 after his death. Sikandar Lodi was the 2nd most successful ruler of the Lodi dynasty. He built a city (near present day Agra) and named it as Sikandarabad – one can see a few Sikandar Lodi era structures in Sikandara area (the area where Mughal Emperor Akbar’s tomb and that of his Rajput Wife is located) of Agra.
The tomb of Sikandar Lodi was one of the earliest garden tombs (some scholars maintain that this was the first garden tomb). Unlike the other Lodi era structures (Bada Gumbad & Sheesh Gumbad ) in Lodhi Garden, this is octagonal in plan just like the tomb of Tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid – the 4th ruler of the Sayyid dynasty.
There is small entry gate which would be on the right if entering from the parking before Athpula . Enter this, walk across a park where one can see children playing, then walk on the path along the wall of the tomb.
The uniqueness of this tomb in comparison to other tombs and structures in Lodhi garden is that this tomb is inside a walled enclosure which measures approximately 76 square meter (around 7.5 m on each side). Inside the walled enclosure is a landscaped garden. The walled enclosure has 3.5 m high battlement walls and recessed internal arches. The corners of the enclosure are strengthened by octagonal towers, only one of which survives now.
The tomb is built over a high plinth. The tomb is approached from the south by a gateway with a terrace (15 x 18 m) flanked with tiled chhattris.
There are 2 Chattris or pavilions on the square platform in the front have blue tiles decorations and would remind one of the Chattris one would see in any forts or palaces in Rajasthan (an example of Indo Islamic Architecture).
On entering the gateway, one would find oneself in a landscaped garden. 4 pathways divide the garden and lead toward the domed octagonal tomb. Inside the enclosure the Western wall is built in a way to serve as a wall mosque with qibla (direction of prayer) indicated through arches and a paved area in front (can see similar structure in Emperor Akbar’s tomb in Sikandara in Agra)
These features (4 pathways dividing the garden, presence of a wall mosque) all indicate that what was known as Chahar-bagh or Charbagh (the quadripartite garden) was not a feature introduced by the Mughals but it existed even before them.
The tomb is the focus point of the landscaped garden. The tomb is octagonal in plan unlike other Lodi era structures in the Lodhi garden. In fact in appearance it looks quite similar the tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid; There are arched verandas in each of the octagonal sides similar to the tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid in the tomb of Sikandar Lodi. The difference lies in some features like – there are no roof kiosks (chattris) in the tomb of Sikandar Lodi, it has a double dome – a Persian concept of an inner and outer shell-the later Mughal tombs were based on the idea of double domes and tombs related to landscape.
The upper portion of the dome is decorated with a distinct pattern in plaster and the corners of the 16 sided drum base takes the shape of a pillar which then rises to form circular minarets. The tomb’s inner chamber is surrounded by a lovely verandah of arches with carved sandstone brackets. Seven openings lead into the inner space where there is single grave. The inner chamber of the tomb inside retains some well-preserved and beautifully designed polychrome tiles and painted stuccowork. The grave is simple grave without any elaborate decoration like that of later Mughals. The ceiling of the inner chamber is painted in bright colours in manuscript-like design.
The British added an inscription in the tomb in 1866 which makes a mention of the defeat of Ibrahim Lodi in a war against 1st Mughal Emperor Babar. They also renovated the tomb.
Khairpur village had come up surrounding the tomb of Sikandar Lodi during the British era. They shifted the village that surrounded Sikander Lodi’s Tomb to another area in 1936; the beautiful landscaped garden that we see today took shape. The Garden and its landscapes were designed by Lady Willingdon, companion of Governor General of India and was named Lady Willingdon Park in her honour. It was opened to public view on 9th April 1936 and was renamed as ‘Lodi Gardens’ post India’s Independence in 1947.
The tomb is an important piece of architecture and is a bridge between different phases of the development of what today is known as the Indo Islamic architecture style.
Evolution of tombs in Islamic Architecture, Architecture Time Space & People, March 2014