Fall of an Empire: Safdarjung’s Tomb

Hasneet Safdarjung Tomb

Hasneet Safdarjung Tomb

The era of great Mughal Empire ended with the death of Aurangzeb. Even though he was succeeded with multiple Successors, The Empire was never the same again. However Muhammad Shah’s Ascension of the throne brought light to the dark future of this empire. It was believes that a strong dictator could save the empire.  With the help of his Chief Minister Safdarjung, He was able to recapture parts of the empire. Eventually due political conspiracies, Safdarjung was dismissed from his post and returned to Oudh. Being a central figure in the Mughal Court he was commemorated on his death with Safdarjung Tomb administered by his son. Even though it’s not an architectural marvel and many Mughal monuments probably overshadow this particular site but this monument is worth recognition.

So before nominating this site for World Heritage Site (WHS), I went on to get a deeper perspective and understanding what exactly is required for a particular site to be recognised as a WHS.

UNESCO has a list of selected places which can be anything from nature like lake, mountains, etc or a whole city. These sites are recognised and funded by UNESCO for their conservation. However all of these recognised sites have a specific or a unique aspect which makes them a WHS. UNESCO has 10 prescribed criteria and to become a WHS, each nominated site has to fulfil at least one of such criteria.

Henceforth I nominate Safdarjung Tomb to be recognised as WHS. This is because Out of the 10 listed criteria it satisfies the following ones:

  1. “Is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.”

Safdarjung’s Tomb signifies State of penury and downfall of the Mughal Dynasty after years of strong rule over the country.

  1. “To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.”

This monument is one of the last monuments constructed during the rule of the Mughals. Henceforth it bears the cultural aspects and legacy of the Mughals in its architecture as well as in its history.

The above criteria are met by Safdarjung’s Tomb as it has a unique place in the history of Mughal Architecture. All other Mughal monuments represent the power they had during their time or to commemorate the dead rulers. Such monuments are intricately handcrafted and are considered architectural marvels. However Safdarjung’s Tomb is one such monument based on Mughal Architecture which lacks architectural precision and is constructed of cheap material. This signifies the state of penury of the Mughal Kings and the decline of the empire which existed for over a 300 years . Its significance also lies in the fact that it was construed in the memory of a High Ranking Officer and not a ruler. Moreover it is considered to be the last monument constructed during the Mughal Rule.

I conducted a survey with a sample of 20 people. It included the following questions:

Ques 1: Have you ever visited a World Heritage Site?

a)  Yes:  18

b)    No:  2

Ques 2: How many World Heritage Sites Are there in India approximately?

a) 0-10 :    2

b) 10-20 :  5

c) 20 -30:  7

d) 30-40:  6

Ques 3 : Have you ever visited Safadrjung’s Tomb before?

a)  Yes:  18

b)    No:  2


Ques 4: What are the distinguishing aspects of Safdarjung’s Tomb?

a) Architecture                 :   11

b) History                          :   9


Ques 5: In your opinion, Is Safdarjung’s Tomb is an important representative of Delhi’s History?

a)  Yes:  8

b)    No:  12

Ques 6: Do you feel Safdarjung Tomb has the required unique aspects be nominated for World Heritage Sit and get its recognition as an important historical monument?

a)  Yes: 15

b)   No:  5



90% of the respondents have visited a World Heritage Site before hence they have an idea about the significance of being recognised as a World Heritage Site.

55% believe that the architectural aspects bring uniqueness to this monument while the other 45%  think that this site has an important historical significance. Hence this site has a history behind it which should be popularised and recognised by people.

75% argree with the idea of nominating this monument to UNESCO for World Heritage Site.

Delhi has 3 World Heritage sites, 2 of which were constructed by Mughals i.e. Humayun’s tomb and Red Fort. Its time to add this site as the 3rd  World Heritage Site built in the era of Mughals in Delhi.