India // Delhi //

Safdarjang’s Tomb

The tomb of Safdarjang, the Mughal viceroy of Avadh under Muhammad Shah (1719–48), stands at the junction of Lodi Road and Aurobindo Marg, 5km southwest of Connaught Place; from Ajmeri Gate or Connaught Place (Kasturba Gandhi Marg), or from Connaught Place by pre-paid auto-rickshaw. Constructed between 1753 and 1774, the double-storeyed mausoleum, built of red and buff sandstone and relieved by marble, rises on a dramatic platform overlooking the adjacent airport of the Delhi Flying Club. It was the very last of India’s great Mughal garden tombs, dating from the period after Nadir Shah’s sacking of the city, by which time the empire was reduced to a fraction of its former size and most of the capital’s grander buildings lay in ruins. Emblematic of the decadence and degeneracy that characterized the twilight of the Mughal era, the mausoleum sports an elongated, tapered dome and absurdly ornate interior filled with swirling plasterwork. In City of Djinns, William Dalrymple aptly describes its quirky design as “blowzy Mughal rococo” typifying an age “not so much decaying into impoverished anonymity as one whoring and drinking itself into extinction”.