Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monuments of Delhi - Humayun tomb

Monuments of Delhi – Humayun’s Tomb
Humayun the gentle Mughal Emperor was known for his knowledge & his penchant for books. He had regained his empire from Sher Shah after much struggle & tribulations. He is credited with the creation of the Mughal style of painting and was a lover of Astronomy & Astrology. His life & works is detailed in his biography ‘Humayun Nama’ written by his sister Gulbadan Begum on request of his son Akbar. Humayun was known to be a religious person and one of the most moderate & tolerant of the Mughal Emperors and he is credited with starting his own religion known as Din-e-Ilahi. He died on 25th February, 1556 having succumbed to his injuries sustained while descending the steps of his library at Purana Quila. The story surrounding his death goes that being a deeply religious person, while descending the steps of his library with armful of books, consequent upon the evening prayers calls given by the nearby Mosque’s Muezzin, he knelt down on the stairs as a sign of reverance and his robe got entangled and he tumbled down the stairs which resulted in his untimely death.
Subsequent to his death, the present day masoleum situated in Nizamuddin area in New Delhi was ordered to be built by his wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 and completed in 1569. This masouleum, which is now known as the ‘Humayn Tomb’ has since been declared as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is said that his body was initially buried in the Purana Qila, later moved to a temporary burial tomb in Sirhind, due to the invasion of Hemu in 1556. His body was again brought back to Delhi and buried in the Sher Mandal when Akbar defeated Hemu and thereafter shifted to its present location when the mausoleum was competed in 1569. The building style is a combination of Persian architecture and indigenous building styles and said to be modeled on the lines of the famous Gur-e-Amir mausoleum at Samarkhand, which is also known as the precursor of the Taj Mahal also.
The Humayun tomb is located at the centre of a garden complex, which can typically be divided mainly into four compartments in the famous Mughal Char-bagh style, with causeways, water channels and water pavilions at regular intervals. The tomb complex is enclosed by a high rubble wall and entered through an entrance gateway on the west side of the complex. The tomb proper is constructed over a huge and elevated platform 6.5 m in height, the outer façade of which is covered by a series of arched openings on all four sides, except four entrance stairs, one each at the centre of four sides. The ascending stairs at the centre of each of the four sides of the elevated platform leads to an open platform, at the centre of which is located is the main tomb. The main tomb akin to Taj Mahal is located below the monument and is approached through a horizontal passage located to the east of southern stairway. The main tomb is octagonal in plan and rises to a level of two storeys and at the four diagonal corners of the octagon are placed four chambers.
The octagonal central tomb is surmounted by a double dome which in turn is supported by a series of supporting arches. This employment of double dome architecture in a mausoleum is the first of its kind in this tomb and this adaptation provides the architect the advantage of building an imposing dome structure of enormous height, tactfully concealing the presence of the double domes from the outside. While the exterior height gives an imposing look, the low ceiling of the lower dome provides for a proportionate height for the interior features. T he exterior of the mausoleum is veneered with white marble stones in contrast to the largely red sandstone building, the interior on other hand is also furbished with different kinds of stone and the white marble as the bordering inlay laid out in decorative patterns. The red sandstone jali (filigree work in sandstone) decorations can be seen at the middle level arch openings which in turn are placed at its lower dome level.
The Humayun’s Tomb complex also houses many other small buildings which are examples of architecture style prevalent during the period preceding and succeeding Humayun. The prominent amongst them are detailed as under -
Barber’s Tomb
The tomb is located at the southeast corner in the garden complex. The person interned in this tomb is unknown, the local name of the tomb is Barber’s Tomb (Nai ka Gumbad).

Nila Gumbad
The monument is located outside the eastern enclosure wall, which is locally known as Nila Gumbad, due to the blue coloured dome. It is believed to contain the remains of one Fahim Khan, the attendant of Abdur Rahim Khan, who lived during the reign of Jahangir. The attendant died in 1626 A.D.
Afsarwala Mosque
The mosque is located to the southwest of the west gate of the main mausoleum. Prayers are offered by the local populace during Fridays when specific gates are opened to felicitate the offering of Namaz/prayers.

The sarai was built by the widow of Humayun in 1560-61 to house the three hundred Arab priests, who were said to have been brought with her from her pilgrimage to Mecca. Another version is that the building housed the Persian workers and craftsmen who were actually engaged in building the Humayun’s Tomb.

Garden of Bu Halima
The visitor entering the Humayun Tomb complex first enters into a garden complex, known as the Bu Halima garden. However, the origin of the name is not known.
Tomb and Mosque of Isa Khan
The tomb and mosque of Isa Khan who was a noble in the court of Sher Shah is located to the south of the Bu Halima garden. An inscription on a red sandstone slab indicated that the tomb is of Masnad Ali Isa Khan, son of Niyaz Aghwan, the Chief Chamberlain, and was built during the reign of Islam Shah, son of Sher Shah, in 1547-48 A.D. This structure pre dates of the Humayun Tomb by about 20 years.


  1. Delhi is full of many monuments which are very awesome and mesmerizing, same as Delhi, Agra is the another city which holds some beautiful monuments like Taj Mahal.
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  2. I'm a little late reading this blog, especially some of the posts, but got to say... everything here is so great and so true. As someone who's originally from the area, I get a chuckle out of many things here.
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