Restoring the Lodhi tombs to glory days

The ongoing restoration of the iconic Lutyens’ landmark by the Archaeological Survey of India is likely to be over in four weeks

Published: 19th May 2019 09:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2019 09:51 AM   |  A+A-

The Bada Gumbad and the mosque at the Lodhi Gardens;

NEW DELHI:  With crevices wide open, missing floor tiles, and damaged façade, the tomb of Sikandar Lodi, Bada Gumbad and its adjoining mosque were vulnerable to further damage. Seepage and peeling plaster caused by rains in every season would inflict more harm to these 16th century Lodi period structures standing in iconic Lodi Garden, a favourite destination for morning walkers and joggers in Lutyens’ Delhi.

After remaining in the state of neglect for almost a decade, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) began their stablisation and restoration work in November, which is likely to be concluded in four weeks.Their restoration, started in 2009, had to be suspended about six years ago following a rift between the ASI and a private conservator engaged for the purpose.

 a corridor inside the mosque
 |Shekhar Yadav

“Conservation of Sikandar Lodi tomb enclosure is almost complete. The main tomb hall, exterior walls of the complex, and chhattris (canopies) had big gaps and several stones were missing. All those joints have been filled and stones have been placed to repair the holes,” said an official of the ASI, who is aware of the development.

Spread over 90 acres, Lodi Garden comprises eight — Sayyid (1414 to 1451) and Lodi (1451 to 1526)-era ancient tombs and buildings, including a stone bridge. While the ASI is the custodian of historical structures, the New Delhi Municipal Council is responsible maintenance and landscaping of the surroundings.In addition to strengthening of the walls and chattris, the survey’s conservator also carried out stone pitching work around the foyer comprising Sikandar Lodi’s grave, which serves as a seal to prevent percolation of water.

“Pitching work or apron is done to prevent water from seeping into the foundation of the structure. After tracing the original remnants of stones or lime-mortar, the same method and material are being used for reinstating the protection layer,” said an official, who is part of the restoration team.He informed that the collapsed arched gateway of Sikandar Lodi tomb has also been restored.

According to the ASI officials, both the structures are in good condition and sturdy despite damage to a few Ashlars and cracks. However, they added that the pointing had eroded, which is being redone.
“Heavy quartzite (Ashlars) or red sand stones are used in their construction to enable these building to stay strong even after 450 years. They require regular pointing after 4-5 years, which may keep them standing for centuries,” said the official, who is not authorized to media. 

Pointing is a method of filling in the gaps between the bricks or stones on the exterior surface of a building, which is a kind of protection from seepage.Repair of flooring of Mehman Khaana, adjacent to Bada Gumbad, is finished and the ASI will soon complete façade restoration of Bada Gumbad mosque and the replacement of its floor tiles.“The work of Bada Gumbad and mosque is 70% complete and remaining job is expected to be finished soon. Once the conservation is done, these structures will not require any repair for 6-10 years,” Rajendra Dehuri, Superintending Archaeologist at Mini Circle (Delhi), ASI, said.

Monuments in Lodhi Garden

Tomb of Sikandar Lodi
Sikandar Lodi is second ruler of the Lodi dynasty. His tomb is in a square garden and enclosed within high walls like a little fortress

Bada Gumbad
The building, believed to be a gateway, got its name because of its big dome. Adjoining mosque with a pavilion has Quranic inscriptions on the walls and decorated ceilings.

Tomb of Muhammed Shah Sayyid
This is the only Sayyid era building in the garden. It was built after the ruler’s death by his son Alauddin Alam Shah.

Mosque in herbal garden
This small 18th-century mosque was built by the Mughals. Random rubble masonry structure is crowned with brick vaulted roof.

Sheesh Gumbad
Sheesh Gumbad or ‘Glass Dome’ was once covered with coloured glazed tiles.

Perhaps, this is the oldest structure among all in the garden, which is six metre, is located in one corner.

Wall mosque and gateway
This small complex built during the late Mughal period has a tri-arched entrance gateway and a small mosque.

This 8-pier bridge was built during Akbar’s reign by Nawab Bahadur, over a tributary of the Yamuna that spanned to the Barahpula nullah near Nizamuddin.

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