Humayun's Tomb

Last Updated 28 May 2016, 18:35 IST

There are several monuments in Delhi which would make every Indian proud of his legacy. And the grand Humayun’s Tomb is one such monument. It was built 14 years after the Mughal emperor’s death, by Hamida Banu Begum, in memory of her beloved husband, under the patronage of their son Akbar, in the 1560s.

Humayun was the second Mughal emperor who ruled over what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of northern India.

The tomb, in red sandstone and white marble mostly, is regarded as the first of the grand dynastic mausoleums that became characteristic of Mughal architecture in the coming years. The Persian Mirak Mirza Ghiyath was the architect for this tomb. One can see influences of Timurid architecture as well as elements of Indian architecture, especially the Rajasthani chhatris, in this building.

Although Sikander Lodi’s tomb was the first garden-tomb to be built in India, historians say that Humayun’s Tomb set a new trend that culminated in the glorious Taj Mahal at Agra.

Placed at the centre of a 30-acre Persian-style quadrilateral garden (known as Charbagh) marked by paved walkways and 2 bisecting central water channels, Humayun’s Tomb, in terms of scale, is the first of its kind in the South-Asian region. Even on a hot summer day, one can relax under the trees around the tomb or by the water channels, and marvel at the lovely pietra dura all around its façade.

Pietra dura, known as parchin kari in South Asia, is an inlay technique of using cut and highly polished coloured stones to create images. This, along with the burial technique, where the real burial chamber lies exactly beneath the upper cenotaph, is an important inheritance of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Adding to the aura of Humayun’s Tomb is the shrine of the great Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya, which is just a stone’s throw away. So a day well spent around these parts of Delhi would mean lounging at the premises of the tomb and then going over to the shrine for blessings and a soulful evening of qawwali.

(Published 28 May 2016, 14:39 IST)

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