The Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, Delhi (Lodhi period) - one the earliest to use ''squinches'' to support the cupola

The capital of India New Delhi is replete with lots of Muslim monuments and it shows their long rule with Delhi being the capital of many dynasties and their rule added cultural diversity to the country. The Islamic architecture gave a new dimension when blended with native Hindu design elements. 

Many of them are protected monuments and come under the control of the ASI. Located in the NE  corner of Delhi's Deer Park, the Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad along with the wall mosque is a historical site where one can find the  Lodhi-era tomb  of Shihab-ud-din Taj Khan, a Muslim saint who lived during the reign of Sikhander Lodhi (Lodhi dynasty  ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526) . The venerable saint seems to have died around 1501. The then  ruler built a structure over his tomb to honor him. One of the finest tombs built during the Lodi period. The tomb differs from other contemporary ones - mostly made of local stone  with some ceramic and sandstone.

Architecturally, the tomb is not well embellished externally and is a simple one like other Lodhi tombs, one of the earliest to have used squinches  for weight distribution over the corner. The interior octagonal dome  is provided with 16 blind niches. The circular dome with a lotus finial atop is set on it.  

Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, S. Delhi

 Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, S. Delhi

interior  Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, S.Delhi

A cupola  in  Odzun Basilica, Armenia

Above image: Squinches supporting a cupola  in Odzun Basilica, Armenia ((early 8th century)........

Palace of Ardashir, Iran

Above image: Squinch in the Palace of Ardashir in Fars, Iran.........

squinch and Pendentives

This design requires fairly shallow ornamental squinches to transfer  the weight to the corners.The advantage of a squinch is it is a small masonry arch on the inside of a dome and connects the dome to the base and transfer its load to the corners. The dome on squinches was already known in ancient Rome.  The oldest known examples of domes on squinches still standing is found in Sassanid architecture (3rd century) Ardashir  Palace, Iran and the other being the early Christian baptistery in Naples (4th-5th century).

squinch and Pendentives

Above image: A squinch differs from Pendentives - curved triangle  connecting  the space between the arches and walls.......

Dome ceiling Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad,

Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, S.Delhi

Above: Calligraphy at the  Bagh-i-Alam Ka Gumbad, S. Delhi (Hauz Khas Village). The place  looks deserted.. The structure was  in a poor state due to .official apathy, and lack of efforts  for conservation-restorations. Historians are taking efforts to restore it soon However, DDA improved the conditions of the park and make it usable by the people. ...............

 The exterior wall of the tomb has no ornamentation except many big pigeon holes which allow the sunrays into the interior portion to keep it well-lit and cool. Also found is some calligraphic work.  Each face of the front part has six niches flanking the central bay, only openings in the lower level act as windows. The building measures 9.5x5.2 meters, and while most of it has survived the past few centuries, the original roof that covered the three tombs has collapsed. The structure  is adjoined by a beautiful wall mosque which is built in the direction of  Mecca. On the corners of this wall are two octagonal domed towers and along its length are five mihrabs (niches) for namaz.

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