Humayun Tomb: The first garden tomb of India

Humayun Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun and has the distinction of being the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. The tomb was completed in 1570 by Humayun’s first and favorite wife Bega Begum who after Humayun’s death in 1556, constructed the magnificent mausoleum as his final resting place. Strongly influenced by Persian architecture, Humayun’s Tomb is a stunning combination of red sandstone and white marble in harmonizing symmetry and scale. The site served as inspiration for later Mughal monuments, including the iconic Taj Mahal.

After being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, under supervision of the Agha Khan Foundation and Archeological Survey of India, Humayun’s Tomb underwent significant restoration work and is one of the best-preserved Mughal monuments.

After a week-long trip to Himachal Pradesh followed by the holy towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, I had about half a day at Delhi and decided to visit the Humayun Tomb. Humayun Tomb has many similarities to the Taj Mahal and if someone (especially foreigners) are short of time to visit the Taj Mahal in their trip to India, they can visit this monument in Delhi. US President Barack Obama did the same!!!

The monument has separate ticket counters for Indians and the foreigners and there is a discount on card payment, a good initiative to promote cashless economy.

Humayun Tomb

Humayun Tomb

Visiting Humayun Tomb is a simple stroll through beautiful gardens and some stunning architecture. However, one must avoid the ruthless summer months during which the open gardens and stone structure can be too excruciating. The tomb is huge and the history associated with the place is fascinating. To enter the main chamber, one has to ascend a few steep steps which can be challenging especially for old aged visitors and those with disabilities.

In contrast to the extravagant exteriors, the interior of the tomb is mundane with plain walls. Perhaps the murals and carvings have been replaced by plain plaster as part of the restoration process of maybe fancy decorations were avoided to comply with the Islamic customs which forbids decorations on graves. Adjoining the main chamber are chambers where the other members of the royal family, including his wife Bega Begum, are laid to rest.

There are several other tombs in the premise, the most notable being the tomb of Isa Khan, which predates the Humayun’s Tomb itself by 20 years. Isa Khan was an Afghan noble in the court of Humayun’s adversary Sher Shah Suri and defeated Humayun in battles. There is the Afsarwala tomb (Officer’s Tomb) and a mosque adjoining it. The most interesting is the Nai Ka Gumbad, the tomb of Humayun’s favourite barber.

The ASI has done a commendable job of restoring and beautifying this historic monument. However, for some reasons this monument has failed to attract visitor’s attention it deserves. The place is nowhere as crowded as the Taj Mahal or other Mughal monuments and in spite of being situated at Delhi, most visitors give it a pass. There is still scope of improvement. Ramp arrangement for the disabled visitors, audio guide and boards delineating facts about the monument and its history are few things the authorities can deliberate upon.

If you visit Humayun’s Tomb, you must explore and soak in the beauty of this monument from every possible angle. Like most Mughal monuments, there is great symmetry in the architecture of Humayun’s Tomb and one must make a conscious effort to appreciate that while strolling around. I hope you liked this post. Please share your feedback in the comments section below. Travel & Spread Love.

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May 23, 2019 2:28 pm

Nice pictures