To The Nameless Graves Buried With Stories, We Will Never Know

Arfa Arshad
Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Parties and clubs never excited me as much as exploring the past and nature did. You might see me throwing tantrums and refusing to indulge in the merrymakings but you will never find me, perhaps even in the worst of my health, saying ‘no’ to an exploration trip. My exploration began with my discovery of queer trinkets forgotten in the dusty rooms of my grandpa’s home. And it can extend to camping in the Yellow Stone and swimming through the devil’s pool near Victoria falls and beyond. But only if my parents could allow me for such an adventurous journey and only if my pocket money was enough to apply for visas and tickets, you would have seen me in Santorini and Prague. The problems are limitless and so is the thirst for discovery.

This year, however, I did get a chance to add a bit of exploring to my list. It wasn’t as popular as a trip to Europe however if an eye has a true appreciation for wonders built with no machineries, they would surely go ahead with the read.

My destination was, as they call it, ‘Dilwalon Ki Dilli (Delhi belongs to the large-hearted), Delhi.

Delhi is famous for its structures and old cultures. From Red Fort to Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid to Akshardham, you will find history embedded in the smallest of structures there. We toured Delhi like never before, from staying in the motels and eating the local dishes, we did everything like proper Delhiites. Our travelling list was extensive; Delhi Zoo, Doll Museum, Red Fort, Humayun’s tomb, Chandi Chowk, and so many places that will cover half of my content.

While each of these places fascinated me, the people and stories included, however, there was one place that took the most of it, The Lodi Garden built in the 15 century.

The Lodi Gardens is located in the heart of Delhi, on Lodi road, near the Safdarjung area. This massive wonder houses the tomb of Mohammad Shah and Sikandar Lodi, a beautiful sprawling garden with an iconic lake and many unnamed graves.

Our day started at 9 AM. Baskets filled with delicacies for the afternoon, we left for our destination. The moment I stepped inside the place, I knew it was going; to be a long, fulfilling day for me. The gentle breeze toyed with my untameable locks and filled me with a zeal to explore every structure these brilliant forgotten people built long back when they had no machines and computers to help. Unlike me, the first thing my family did was find a good spot to sit and relax, whereas I tightened my laces for an eventful walk ahead.

After a couple of sips of refreshing lemonade; that we purchased from the locals and my camera in hand, I left to enjoy the mystical structures on my own.

The very first was Bara Gumbad (Big Dome) which is supposedly a mosque built in the 15 century. The high arches and domes are exquisitely carved and draped with floral patterns and Quranic verses. The upper level has open balconies offering a splendid view of the opposite Shish Gumbad (Glass Dome) and the garden.

After a couple of photo shoots, I headed towards the mesmerising lake. Swans, ducks, and flamingos that had come for respite against the Siberian cold adorned the lake. While walking on the bridges constructed over the lake, I could see the famous eight-piered bridge of the Lodi Gardens. Once all these structures were in regular use during the reign of the Delhi Sultanate, and now these have become photography points and sources of historical education. The stunning lake gave a view of the tombs of Sikandar Lodi and Muhammad Shah.

I had to climb additional steps to reach their tombs but all those calorie burns were worth the architectural style and antiquity I was able to see. Along with the fort-like structures, there were secret passages, now closed. Only pigeons and doves resided there with their families now.

The main tombs were separate from the crowded front of Lodi Gardens. Giant stone walls secured them from three sides, and the bridges over the lake gave entry to this area. Sikandar Lodi’s grave was placed in the centre of the tomb, surrounded with beauty and glory even after his demise. The high walls engraved with Arabic inscriptions and designs, constructed with delicacy, which all the structures of today lack despite the modern machines, tell us about the skills and craftwork of the people of that time.

It was almost evening when I was done studying all the ancient works on this side of the garden. On my way back, I was greeted by a troop of monkeys and a gaggle of geese and made a quick exit to the north of the garden.

As I was on my way to my family, a flashing reflection; caught my attention. Shish Gumbad, or Glass Dome as it is called, captured my attention in all glory. This weathering construction stood proud on a high station. A stone tablet with all its information stood outside. The reason, for it being called Shish or Glass was because of the various hues of blue tiles that decorated its front. Its style of architecture too, was similar to the others. Inscriptions with floral pattern adorned the inside walls of the dome. The golden hour glow on the yellow walls of this Gumbad made it appear majestic and, forgotten at the same time.

Once I stepped inside, I could easily understand; that it was not maintained as much as the other two tombs. I felt strange in a different kind of way in that tomb. This place somehow had more calling than the whole of Lodi Garden. When I looked at the eight unnamed graves of people buried there, I felt transported into a different dimension where the clatter of the ignorant crowd no longer surrounded me. It was just me staring at these nameless graves. These were the people who were important enough to be buried in a tomb but not important enough to have names on their graves. I took my time to search for any engravings I could find on them, I dusted a few areas but there was nothing. No clue about the occupants of these graves.

These people were nameless today and forgotten. So many have come and so many have gone. Only a few graves are marked with their residents, only their stories of bravery alive. There might be that one great heroine or hero, the bravest and strongest of all time, who lies in an unidentified, unmarked, nameless grave, with their story buried with them, within the fortunate walls of earth, echoing to be heard; while we pass absentmindedly through them. I took my time to search for any name or markings on these nameless graves but I was met with only despair. Google didn’t help either, it was as clueless as all the other archaeologists who were awed just like me. The sun was beginning to set and I sat hopelessly on the ground, the high arcs and dome surrounding me with eight nameless people who were buried beneath with their stories. Just like the uncountable humans who too are buried with no names.

I have written countless travelogues with catchy titles, but that day I knew I had to write one more and dedicate them to these nameless people resting here in patience and peace, hopefully.

I sat there, absorbing the massive height of the dome for another few minutes while other tourists took no care of the history buried here. They kept coming and clicking selfies, paying no heed to the pain some craftsmen took to build this marvel or to feel sorry for these people who weren’t honoured enough to be named.

With silent goodbyes, I stepped down the stairs. I stole a couple of glances as the sun paid tribute to the Shish Gumbad by casting it a golden glow, a revered farewell was said.


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