No history of India, Pakistan or Afghanistan is complete without mention of Humayun (1508-1556). By the time he passed away, this great Mughal Emperor had dozens of military victories to his name and ruled over one million square kilometres of land. It’s fitting then that his tomb, located in East Delhi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which some prefer to the Taj Mahal. Humayun’s Tomb holds the distinction of being the first large-scale building in India to incorporate red sandstone.
The exterior is renowned for its intricate geometric patterns very much de rigeur in Islamic architecture. However, Humayun’s Tomb is an important blend of both Islamic and Indian styles, with the latter exerting its influence in the chhatri pavilions and brackets that surround the pale-hued main dome. The tomb was begun upon the orders of Humayun’s widow, Hamida Banu Begum, and took seven years to build. The premises were captured by the British after the Indian Mutiny and the gardens re-designed according to English landscape conventions. The tomb took on a practical importance as a shelter for those fleeing into Pakistan during the Partition of India in 1947.
Other delightful aspects of the tomb include the six-sided stars painted onto the western barbican, the lattice windows of the Mecca-facing mosque and Humayun’s Spartan yet appealing cenotaph that above his actual grave which lies underground.
Char Bagh Garden is a wonderful green space to stroll through as you approach the tomb. Built in typical Persian style, although also bearing British influences, it is divided geometrically by bisecting pavements and red-coloured waterways. The double-domed Barber’s Tomb complements Humayun’s Tomb perfectly; a modest counterpoint to the lavishness of the main attraction here. No one knows precisely who is interred within.
Opening times are dawn till dusk every day and entry is possible via Mathura Road and Lothi Road.
Text © 2011 Abiyoyo SL