Situated at a pivotal T-junction in South Delhi, close to my neighborhood, I’ve driven past Safdarjung’s Tomb countless times over the years. From the outside, it manages to hide behind a thick façade of trees, momentarily giving a peak of its majestic entrance just as one crosses the red light in front of it.
Inside, though, it glorifies Mughal architecture and reminds us that no matter how cosmopolitan Delhi gets, the city still has a few open spaces left that speak of its royal past.
I’ve covered a little about Safdarjung’s Tomb earlier in a photo-essay, which you can read here, that showcases its architectural beauty in the daytime.
For a quick flashback, Safdarjung’s Tomb is amongst the last “garden tombs” built in the capital and dates back to 1754. It was then that Shuja-ul-Daula took special permission from the emperor to build the tomb in honor of his father, Mirza Muqim Abul Mansur Khan. At one time, the latter had been the Wazir ul-Mamlak-i-Hindustan (Prime Minister of Hindustan) in the court of Ahmed Shah Bahadur.
Visiting Safdarjung’s Tomb in the night was all about capturing it in a new light, literally, as part of Delhi’s night tourism initiative. Having previously taken night-time photographs of Qutub Minar, I was curious to witness the beauty of this grand monument as the sun sets, and shimmering lights came up, giving the lucky few a chance to catch the tomb’s reflecting in the ponds that surround it.
The best time to reach Safdarjung’s Tomb for night photography is a good one hour before sunset. This allows you to walk on the property, admire the architecture from up close, and maybe even decide on a few angles you would like to take the night shots from, eventually.
Well, you can do everything but the last part, because as soon as the light gets dim, guards come running around telling the few lovebirds hiding in the far reaches of the gardens, and photographers like me, to shift towards the entrance.
As a result, the only place to witness Safdarjung’s Tomb at night is from near the entrance of the complex. Moreover, while the management does turn on the fountains, they don’t stop them, plead as much as you like, resulting in no night-time reflection photos, unless you do that in post-production.
Nevertheless, watching Safdarjung’s Tomb at night is nothing short of a spectacle. It’s an impressive building that takes on a more magnificent persona when viewed from afar, with the palm tree-bordered pathway giving the view remarkable depth.
Moreover, when you arrive early, you get to photograph the monument during the blue hour, where the sky becomes the focal point for the briefest moment.
However, make sure you stick around until the sun has completely set, for Safdarjung’s Tomb is at its most impressive when there is no background light at all (a visit on a moonless night is thus advisable).