Humayun’s Tomb, a stunning example of Mughal architecture in Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb, a Mughal marvel in Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb is an architectural marvel of the Mughal era, situated in the heart of the bustling city, Delhi. The testament of time and history dates back to 1569-70 AD. It was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum), nine years after his death.
Encapsulating the essence of Persian beauty in Indian soil, this UNESCO World Heritage Site narrates the tale of Humayun, the second Mughal Emperor. The tomb displays a magnificent blend of rich history, architecture, culture and several fascinating tales. This blog post will take you on an enchanting journey around Humayun’s Tomb.
Just imagine walking through the gateway into the paradisiacal Char Bagh (four garden quarters) and coming face-to-face with the colossal red sandstone and marble mausoleum – Humayun’s Tomb. Let’s unravel the grandeur.
Humayun’s Tomb holds immense historical significance. It was the first structure to use red sandstone in such a quantity. It heralded the onset of a long-lasting tradition that saw all later Mughal emperors being interred in elaborate tombs.
Furthermore, Humayun’s tomb represents the peak of the Mughal Dynasty’s first phase. Its construction marked a stark departure from the modesty of earlier mausoleums and acted as a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture, most notably the Taj Mahal.
Reflect on the tale of Ali Mardan Khan, who designed and landscaped the water channels in the complex, mirroring the paradise as described in the Quran—enclosed gardens with rivers flowing beneath.
- The tomb was the first to be built in the centre of a paradise garden.
- The mausoleum established the concept of red sandstone buildings (a visual marker for Mughal architecture).
- It was an early example of the combination of the Persian Charbagh garden style with a tomb platform.
- This design greatly influenced later constructions, including the iconic Taj Mahal.
- The complex provided a precedent for later Mughal mausoleums.
- It includes other landmark monuments such as Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan’s Garden Tomb, Bu Halima’s Garden and Barber’s Tomb.
Humayun’s Tomb is not merely a resting place for the emperor but a symbol of architectural excellence. The architect of the monument, Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, was chosen by Haji Begum herself. He incorporated Persian techniques into the Indian building traditions to create a new innovative design.
The central dome made of marble, high arches, intricate jaali work or lattice stonework, the detailed artistry on walls and ceilings, the Arabesque patterns, everything in Humayun’s Tomb speaks volumes about the art, skill, and dedication that went into its construction.
Consider the main tomb’s setting, positioned at the center of a large plinth, surrounded by a meticulously manicured garden administered by the Archaeological Survey of India.
- The octagonal shape is a common feature in Persian-influenced Islamic architecture.
- The Bardari, an integral feature of Persian landscape design, forms part of the western wall of the complex.
- The structure uses red sandstone, white marble, and blue tiles, a characteristic color palette for Mughal and Timurid constructions.
- Humayun’s Tomb features both Indian jalis (lattice screen) and Persian iwans (vaulted hall).
- The tomb utilizes a squinch which is an architectural device used to transition from a square to an octagonal or circular base for a dome.
- There are as many as 150 tombs within the entire complex, hence, it is often called the ‘dormitory of the Mughals’.
The Char Bagh Concept
The Char Bagh, or four gardens, feature encompasses the mausoleum. It symbolises the four rivers in the Islamic version of paradise. This style was introduced to India by Babur, and his grandson Akbar continued this concept at Sikandra and Taj Mahal.
This heavenly setting is segmented by shallow water channels and pathways that intersect at right angles, dividing the enclosure into four equal squares. Each side independently looks like a perfect Persian-style garden with fruit-bearing trees, aromatic flowers, water features and bird life.
Now envision the four symmetrically divided gardens with verdant vegetation that blossoms in different seasons providing a fresh look to the monument every time you visit.
- The Char Bagh is among the key elements of Persian inscriptional and figurative motifs.
- Each quadrant of the garden serves as a reflection of the others, maintaining harmony and balance within the premises.
- The walkways are lined with raised paths leading to the centre of the tomb.
- A central water channel reflects the image of the mausoleum and runs through the midpoint of the garden.
- The channels act as mirroring entities that give a dimensional perspective to the place.
- The water source fed into the channels creates an ambiance filled with tranquility and serenity.
The Aga Khan Trust in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India launched an Interpretation Centre at Humayun’s Tomb in 2018. This unique facility offers a detailed insight into the monumental complex’s history, architecture, cultural setting and restoration process to appreciate it better.
The centre displays several exhibits, audio-visual presentations, time-lapse videos of conservation works, architectural drawings, archival photographs, and three-dimensional models that let you delve into the timeline of Mughal history.
Picture visiting this technology-equipped centre where one could not merely view but live the moments from the past.
- The centre provides a comprehensive understanding of fourteen monuments within the complex.
- It presents archival images and documents along with recent conservation photographs.
- The centre showcases a ten-minute-long film depicting the six-year-long conservation process.
- There are touch screens installed that display two animated films: “Building of Humayun’s Tomb” and “Understanding Conservation”.
- A collapsible model shows various construction phases.
- Hindi & English touchscreen facilities present the story behind each monument.
Humayun’s Tomb has undergone various conservation measures since its inception. From natural wear and tear to man-made damages, the monument has battled them all. Both Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) have put considerable efforts to restore this epitome of Mughal architecture to its original grandeur.
Conservation measures included repairing of chhatris (domed pavilions), jalis, dalans (verandahs), fixing leakages, plastering, stone-carving, among others. Efforts were made to bring back the historical Char Bagh format by removing unnecessary installations done over the years.
Remember the images of before and after conservation—how a worn-out monument became the epitome of regality all over again.
- Restored dalans are now open to the public offering spectacular views of the tomb.
- Areas closed for almost 400 years, such as the central room, were made accessible.
- A six-year-long project saw thousands of craftsmen working to restore the beauty of Humayun’s Tomb complex.
- Efforts were made to incorporate original Mughal stonework craftsmanship in conservation work.
- The use of hand-made lime mortar plaster instead of cement in conservation work adhered to its historical relevance.
- The revitalisation projects have seen a significant increase in the number of visitors.
Accessibility & Timings
One of the positives about visiting Humayun’s Tomb is its excellent accessibility. It’s situated near Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station making it convenient for outstation tourists. Delhi Metro connectivity also makes this monument easy to reach from any part of the National Capital Region (NCR).
Humayun’s Tomb is open all day from sunrise to sunset. Considering Delhi’s extreme weather conditions, timing your visit accordingly may ensure an enjoyable experience.
Think about reaching this architectural wonder via the newly introduced Delhi Metro Magenta Line that drops you close to the venue.
- The nearest Metro station is JLN Stadium on the Violet Line.
- From the station, one can reach the attraction via auto rickshaws or cabs readily available outside the station.
- If travelling by train, deboard at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station which is merely 2 km away.
- From the Indira Gandhi International Airport, a cab ride would take around 40-45 minutes, traffic permitting.
- The monument remains open all days of the week and entry fee applies for both domestic and foreign tourists.
- Still photography and video shooting are permitted within the premises but it might require additional fee.
In conclusion, Humayun’s Tomb is more than a heritage monument or an architectural masterpiece. It is indeed a source of pride for Delhiites as it serves as a reminder of the city’s rich historical past spanning over centuries.
Visiting Humayun’s Tomb might feel like stepping into the pages of history, and being part of that glorious era when potentates walked its corridors and Persian cultural influence was in full swing.
Take home not just photos, but memories of spectacular architecture & design, a dive into deep history, and the calming serenity that abounds the place!
|Marked the onset of a long-lasting tradition with elaborate tombs for Mughal rulers.
|Symbol of architectural excellence using advanced Persian techniques.
|The Char Bagh Concept
|A paradise setting symbolizing four rivers in Islamic heaven.
|A unique facility offering detailed insight into the monumental complex’s architecture, history, cultural setting, and restoration process.
|Restoration to original grandeur undertaken by ASI and Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
|Accessibility & Timings
|Easily accessible via train or metro; open all day from sunrise to sunset.