Sheesh Gumbad

The dome of the Sheesh Gumbad


This arch is a wonderful example of medieval Indian architecture. It is a true arch, with a cleanly shaped keystone. The true arch paired with the stylized lotus symbol is an example of Indo-Islamic architecture. I liked the slight disarray in this example. The stones are slightly mismatched, and the curtain above the arch is somewhat haphazard. It does not have the overwhelming grandeur of Mughal architecture. You can almost see the hands of the workers. This is the south-facing central arch beneath the dome of Sheesh Gumbad.

sheeshgumbadFour beautiful structures stand inside the Lodhi garden: the tomb of Muhammad Mubarak Sayyid, Sikandar Lodhi’s tomb, the mosque called Bada Gumbad, and next to it, the Sheesh Gumbad. My first view of the Sheesh Gumbad was similar to the view in the photo alongside. When I look at the outline of the dome, the circular part is much smaller than a semi-circle. I just learnt that’s what a half dome is. Here it stands on a tall cylindrical base, which is slightly tapered. The dome is topped by an inverted lotus. All this is typical of Sayyid or Lodhi architecture, from the end of the 15th century CE, just before the flowering of Mughal architecture.


My eye was also caught by several other details on the south wall of this structure. Some of the plaster still clings to the wall. Where it has fallen away, you can see the walls are made of stone rubble. Some lines of blue enamelled tiles still remain. The Lodhi dynasty was interrupted by Timur’s invasion. The Sayyids (1414-1451 CE) were briefly in power after the sack of Delhi, before the return of the Lodhis. Both dynasties built in this garden, and seem to have constrained budgets. They were limited to re-using local stone and using narrow lines of decorative tiles.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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