Of all the monuments that lie mute deep inside the wiry lanes of the bustling metropolis of Delhi, Bahlol Lodi's is perhaps one of the most mysterious; for one, you cannot spot the monument unless you are right in front of its walls, and, second, is the level of encroachment that surrounds the tomb, despite it being Bahlol Lodi's claim to fame as the founder of the Lodi Dynasty in the history of the Delhi Sultanate.
Claim to Fame
Belonging to the Lodi Pashtun tribe hailing from the Multan region (modern day Pakistan), Bahlol Lodi started out as a horse trader & rose to the post of governor of the Sirhind region before making two unsuccessful attempts of conquering Delhi. Third time lucky, he finally captured the throne in 1448 AD, & began his four decade rule.
Despite all the cunning & wit Bahlol used to ascend to power, he was considered a humble soul, much influenced by Sufism, preferring to sit on the floor rather than the throne. He squashed many rebellions & consolidated the empire to quite an extent after Timur's carnage in the latter part of the 14th Century, extending the rule over Gwalior, parts of Uttar Pradesh (UP) & the erstwhile princely state of Jaunpur, which took constant subduing.
Inside the Premises
The monument is located in the alleys of the modern day Chirag Delhi, behind the shrine of Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud, a disciple of saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Chishti, commonly referred to as Chirag-e-Dilli, where the king wished to be buried. The octagonal motif that juts out between the cramped 3-storey buildings is typical of Lodi Architecture, though the five domes are unusual considering the architecture of that period.
About a dozen graves are scattered out in the open; & Bahlol Lodi's grave is located next to two other graves inside the enclosure. It is a simple octagonal structure with 3-arched openings on all sides, perceivably reflecting the king's humble demeanour, bearing inscriptions from the Quran. Hindu carving styles in red sandstone are also visible, reminiscent of the fusion processes of Indo-Islamic architecture that would reach its crescendo with the Mughals.
There are some families that live right by the tomb & may be a bit unwelcoming to strangers at first (do consider that arrogance is a poor man's only defence) & their stray dog pets might make one jumpy, but a polite request would easily sort things out.
Get clear directions while starting out from the Dargah (Mosque) as people don't generally know the monument by its name & the alleys can be confusing at times.
Considering so many heritage sites existing in Delhi, one is often tempted to overlook these tough-to-locate monuments, but they are worth a visit simply for the poignant reminders they throw at you of how history more often than not is the great leveller.