Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, a melange of art and history

Kirti Arora | Live the World

November 23, 2022

A visit to New Delhi, India can be both an enriching and enjoyable experience. Wide and spacious roads lined by sprawling greens on both sides present a soothing picture. Especially after the onset of winters, the city bears a lovely personality, which is quite a sight for travellers. One such popular place to visit in Delhi is Humayun's Tomb, which is a perfect melange of art and history. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River, reaching the tomb is quite easy. The closest metro stations are Jor Bagh and JLN Stadium. Furthermore, several AC/ Non-AC buses and autorickshaws are also plying around the city for easy mobility. You can visit the place from dawn to dusk to enjoy the beauty of this tomb. Also, here, foreign visitors are charged an amount of Rs 250 per individual for entry. 

Background of Humanyun's Tomb

After Emperor Humayun's death, his wife Bega Begum undertook a holy pilgrimage to Hajj (annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) and vowed to build a mausoleum in memory of her departed husband. The construction of the monument began nine years after the emperor's death in 1565 and was completed in 1572 AD. For the design, the queen roped in the services of Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, who hailed from Afghanistan. Gradually, the brilliance of the mausoleum dimmed quite a bit due to a lack of funds in the declining Mughal Empire. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the monument is maintained by the agency Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

© Istock/ Sachin Ghai

Design elements 

© Istock/ Roop_Dey

The Humayun's Tomb presents an interesting and inspiring combination of Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture. This type of design was introduced during the reign of King Akbar and reached its pinnacle during King Shah Jahan's rule. With Humayun's Tomb, this particular style was embraced fully in design and size, which continues to be admired even today. The tomb was the first garden-tomb to be built in India and also the first one to use red sandstone on such a large scale. 

© Istock/Tyler Tomasek

Also, the tomb at 47 meters is the first Indian structure to incorporate the Persian dome design (42.5 meters high). You can enter the monument from the southern entrance and will notice the gorgeous latticework. Once inside, beneath the white dome, you will find an octagonal burial chamber with a single cenotaph of Mughal Emperor Humayun. Without a doubt, this is not the real cenotaph; the real one is placed safely right under the upper cenotaph, away from public viewing. This is quite common in India to pay respect to the departed and also to avoid any nuisance by miscreants. 

Around Humayun's Tomb

With four-part garden all around, also known as Charbagh, the monument presents a beautiful sight. You can also stroll inside the monument and photograph/ shoot videos of the gorgeous architecture, facades, windows, and intricate artwork. After restoration, the monument looks stunning. It is a good idea to visit the monument during winter days and also soak up some sun in its beautiful gardens. That's how I spend my day at the Humanyun's Tomb

The tomb also includes several other buildings within its complex. Some of the important ones are Nila Guband, Arab Sarai, and Bu Halima. Inside, tombs of Mughal royals such as Bega Begum, Hamida Banu Begum, Isa Khan, and Dara Shikoh are also present within the main mausoleum building. It is said that the whole complex of the mausoleum is dotted with over 150 tombs, earning the title of the “Dormitory of the Mughals”. 

If you love photography, you can visit the tomb around 5 - 6 am for perfect imagery and few people around. It is also said that the huge scale of the monument with emphasis on Islamic architecture, and symmetrical gardens also inspired the design of the Taj Mahal in Agra.  

Close to Humanyun's Tomb is popular Sufi Shrine or Dargah, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya - visit the place to experience Sufism and also listen to soulful songs. The Mughals considered it holy to be buried next to a saint's grave and hence several Mughal royals chose to be buried in the vicinity. Next time, you are in Delhi, plan one day at the Humayun's Tomb, which represents a beautiful melange of art and history. 

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