Safdarjung's Garden by Excellent Hansda, a student of IIT, Roorkee (2017)
Excellent Hansda is a calm and collected person with a lot of curiosity and an unusual name. He was born and raised in Bareilly. He grew up seeing and fascinated by the various buildings and open spaces which forced him to study architecture. Currently, he is studying in Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, and doing a course of Bachelor in Architecture (B.Arch.). Sketching and Painting has always been his hobby since childhood. He plans to do further research on architecture of India.
WHY I DID THIS PROJECT?
I come from an architectural background of academics. Built form and monuments intrigued me. Other aspect what fascinates me about architecture are the open spaces in a city or a town. This is where landscape architecture come into picture and one major part of landscape architecture are the gardens. Gardens are not mere flowers and trees. What we see as a garden today have underwent a lot changes arising from the many principles and forms created by man. Let it be the charbagh Nishat Bagh of Kashmir or the French formal garden of palace of Versailles. They were the jewels of the aristocracies. Now the gardens are more for relaxation and hangout areas of the public. This doesn’t mean that the garden should lose any charm.
Since Delhi has amazed and inspired many architects. I too fall in the niche of those younger architects. I have tried to merge both of my interest and have come up with this booklet. This booklet provides a mirror of what one feels when he/ she enter into a garden and the overall experience in it.
Safdarjung’s tomb is one landmark which still continues to stand intact against the waves of time. Located in a posh area in South Delhi. The nearest station is Jorbagh, one may walk by foot till the gardens. The road across the gardens is heavily occupied by traffic. The entrance of the gateway is through a monumental gateway. The garden is enclosed by stone masonry which remains intact and still protects the gardens. The colorful stones with sand mortar, in the wall, have a medieval charm of its own. The garden is entered by the gateway.
The gateway provides a strong axis and leads directly towards the tomb of Safdarjung’s. Walking through the gateway is itself in experience. The spaces expands in between, the height increases in between and get back to normal again. There is also a play of light and darkness. At first there is darkness, then there comes diffused lights coming from the clerestory windows and the courtyard present at the right .Then again there is darkness till finally we see the light at the end of the gateway. One sees the beautiful mausoleum framed within the gate with cusped arches on top. One has to walk through sand coming right out of the gateway. The eyes get drawn directly towards the mausoleum and while walking one see the full vistas, the whole gardens. The series of bottle palms flaked on each side of the pathway and shrubs planted in a queue heading towards the mausoleum. The tomb is a double storied structure, placed over a raised platform. Since the mausoleum is on a high platform, one needs to take steps to reach the upper level. The steps are hidden to provide a clean façade at the podium.The upper level is surrounded by parapet walls. The parapet walls have beautifully carved hexagons and 6 pointed stars design. The Mughals were quite fascinated by geometric patterns and basic shapes and forms as seen in this marvel creation. There we see the creation of buff and red sandstones and the marble flooring. The upper level has a cenotaph at the central chamber, which is square in shape and four rectangular chambers on each side as well as octagonal chambers at the corners. This planning layout has been same in the upper storey. Unfortunately people are not allowed to visit the second storey. When one enters the first rectangular chamber he could see the lovely wall reliefs present and the intricate detailing of plaster done on the ceiling. The details of flowers and vines are captivating. Moving forward one sees the cenotaph at the center on the marble flooring. What evocates people are the lovely shades of white on the muquarnas at the ceiling. These provides both fulfilling the function of carrying load of dome as well as aesthetics.