Lodi Garden and the Golf Club

Lodi Garden, located on Lodi Road between Safdurjung’s Tomb and Khan Market in south Delhi, covers an area of 90 acres and is dotted with beautiful monuments and tombs. Buzzing with joggers and walkers throughout the year,the area is a haven for picnickers and for those looking for a sunny patch to warm themselves in winters and a cool retreat, in summers, especially in the early hours of mornings and in the evenings. With its undulating walking paths and jogging tracks fringed with ancient trees, colourful shrubs, and flowering plants, the garden’s historical past is another evidence of how the city’s present encompasses within it a rich past. L odi Garden, as we see it today, in its avatar as a landscaped park, was designed in 1936 as a setting for the group of 500-year old buildings belonging to the Sayyid, Lodi, and Mughal dynasties.

At that time, south Delhi was not like it is today, an important commercial and residential hub of the city. In those early years of the twentieth century, the landscape around Delhi could be compared to Rome and its surroundings: both were cities sparsely populated, strewn with impressive remnants of former empires. In 1931, when New Delhi, the new city designed by Edwin Lutyens was nearing completion, south Delhi had changed little and was described as ‘a flat country, brown, scrubby and broken’, studded with ruins. At that time these tombs, mosques and other structures stood in what was then called the village of Khairpur, on the outskirts of New Delhi. A few years later, in 1936, the villagers were moved from Khairpur and a garden was laid out with native and exotic trees and plants around the monuments. It was then called Lady Willingdon Park, after the wife of the then British Viceroy.

Post-Independence, it was more appropriately renamed Lodi Garden and was redesigned in 1968 by J.A. Stein, an eminent architect, who was also involved with many other buildings around the Lodi Garden complex. The oldest structure in the Lodi Garden complex is a turret(an Archaeological Survey of India [ASI] protected structure) that appears to have been part of a walled enclosure (not evident any more) which historians believe to have belonged to the Tughlaq period (ad 1320– 1413). Nothing else is known about the other structures here that were also built at this time. Most of the tombs and mosques go back to the time of the Sayyid and Lodi rulers of Delhi when the area was called Bagh i-Jud, in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

The Sayyids established their small sultanate in the fifteenth century (ad 1414–51) with Khizr Khan as the first ruler, who ruled Delhi for seven years after the collapse of the Tughlaq Dynasty. Khizr Khan was succeeded by his son Mubarak Shah who ruled for more than a decade after his father’s death in 1421. The third ruler Muhammed Shah, reigned subsequently from ad 1434–44. His son Alauddin Alam Shah is known to have built Muhammed Shah’s Tomb, the oldest and the solitary testimony to the Sayyid Dynasty in the garden, now an ASI protected site. The Sayyid Dynasty was displaced by the Lodi Dynasty (ad 1451–1526) which originated from an Afghan tribe that had been in India for a long time.

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