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The tale of the missing Lodhi tomb

If you are looking for the tomb of the valiant Ibrahim Lodhi in Lodhi Gardens you will be disappointed. The tale of the missing tomb is told here by R.V. SMITH


The Lodhi Gardens contain the tombs of the Lodhi period, but there is one tomb that is conspicuous by its absence - that of Ibrahim Lodhi, the last ruler of that dynasty. He was the one who was defeated by Babar at the first Battle of Panipat in 1526.It was a hotly contested battle, in which 12000 Moghul troops attacked the one lakh collected by Ibrahim. In the end the guns employed by Babar turned the tide of the battle in his favour. His rival's elephants began to run amok, and though Ibrahim Lodhi died fighting bravely, his troops could not save the day for him.

The ruler's body was found among the slain and treated with respect by Babar who ordered its burial. Later the tomb was renovated by Begum sahiba, Ibrahim's mother. She found a place in Babar's household but later antagonised the Moghul conqueror by trying to poison him out of revenge for the death of her son.

According to K.C. Yadav, former Head of the Department of History, Kurukshetra University, Ibrahim Lodhi's roofless grave is in the middle of a masonry platform, built by the Panipat District Committee, with two jalis (screens). In 1969 the grave was enclosed by a boundary wall and barbed wire fencing (to prevent its misuse) by the District Committee, which repaired it in 1974.

The inscription at the head of the tomb says, "Ibrahim Lodhi died here" and goes on to commemorate the sultan and Babar's sympathy for the fallen ruler. However, Dr. Yadav points out that there are two mistakes in the inscription, which must be corrected; Babar's name is given as Ghiyasuddin, instead of Zahiruddin, and the date of the battle should be 1923 Hijri and not 1939 Hijri. He goes on to quote this extract from the Tariq-e-Shahi by Ahmed Yadgar, Akbar's historian: "When King Babar heard of the martyrdom of Ibrahim Lodhi, he sent Dilawar Khan to make enquiries in this regard. He (Dilawar) went to the battlefield and there he found Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi smeared in blood and dust. His crown had parted from his head and his (royal) umbrella lay separate. Tears came to the eyes of Dilawar Khan. He related his finding to the king.

"King Babar himself reaching the spot and saw the mighty emperor smeared in blood and dust. He trembled to see the tragic scene and lifting his (Sultan's) body off the earth, he said: "Thou art great". He then ordered the rolls of jarbafth (cloth) to be brought and the preparation of a halwa of sweet candy. Orders were given to Dilawar Khan, the Amir Khalifa, and Jahangir Kuli to arrange for the ritual bath of the dead body and to bury it at the place where he (Sultan) had died".

Relocated

According to Dr. Yadav, the actual grave was not at the site where it is situated now. It was relocated by the British, when the Grand Trunk Road was built, as it lay in the direct path of the road. Whether the Sultan's remains were also interred at the present spot is not known. So don't go looking for the Ibrahim's tomb in Lodhi Gardens. There you will find Shish Gumbad, whose blue tiles, ornamenting a glazed dome, gave it that name. It has a double-storied appearance. Belonging to the time of Sikandar Lodhi, Ibrahim's father, it contains an unknown tomb. The Bara Gumbad was also built in Sikandar's reign. But Mohammad Shah Sayyid's octagonal tomb dates back to 1444, before the advent of the Lodhi dynasty.

Sikandar Lodhi's tomb is not far from it and was built after his death in 1517. He was the greatest of the Lodhis, who built his capital in Agra. The tomb of Bahlol Lodhi, the founder of the dynasty, is a forgotten monument in Chiragh Delhi. It is situated near the shrine of Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud (after whom the areas is known), for the 14th Century saint is regarded as the Lamp of Delhi by his devotees.

When Bahlol died in 1489, his son Nizam Khan became Sultan with the title of Sikandar Lodhi. Ibrahim Lodhi succeeded him in Delhi, while his younger brother, Jalal Khan Lodhi, was made king of Jaunpur. The brothers fought a bitter battle. Jalal was defeated and killed and the raja of Gwalior, who helped him, lost his fort. The haughty Ibrahim then became a despotic ruler, despised by his nobles.

They conspired against him and invited Babar to invade India. Had Ibrahim been wiser he wouldn't have lost his throne and his life at a young age and been buried far from the family graveyard in Lodhi Gardens. That's a pity, but then pride goes before a fall even for a valiant Tajdar-e-Hind.

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