The fascinating architecture of the Humayun's Tomb has surely caught everyone’s eye! The tomb lies on the Mathura road near its crossing with the Lodi Road. Today, the Humayun's Tomb lies protected under the Archaeological Survey of India. The structure is built with red sandstone along with white and black marble. Infact the Humayun's Tomb is the first Indian building to use the Persian concept of a double dome (made up of white marble) with its marble borders. With high arches and double domes, the tomb is a classic example of the Mughal architecture with Persian influence.
This tomb was built in the year 1570 as the first garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent. The construction had its own cultural significance and lead to some major architectural innovations including the Taj Mahal. The Humayun's Tomb is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 1993 and was also honoured with the prestigious National Heritage Award.
History has it that Humayun was the eldest son of Babur and succeeded his father and became the second emperor of the Mughal Empire. He ruled India for nearly a decade. After getting defeated by Sher Shah Suri, Humayun took refuge at the court of the Safavid ruler, Shah of Persia, who helped in regain Delhi in 1555 AD. Unfortunately, he could not rule for a long time and died in 1556. Humayun’s widow Hamida Banu Begam, also known as Haji Begam, initiated the construction of his tomb in 1569, fourteen years after his death. Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect was appointed by Haji Begam for the construction of the tomb. The total estimated cost on the construction of the tomb was somewhere around 1.5 million.
There are a number of eminent Mughal personalities who are buried in the mausoleum. There are graves of Hamida Begum, Akbar's mother; Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan's son and Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal Emperor.
The tomb is octagonal in shape and can be entered through a long processional track. There are two double-storeyed gateways to enter the tomb, one on the west and the other on the south. The southern gateway remains closed. The baradari or the pavilion occupies the center of the eastern wall and the hamam or the bath chamber the center of northern wall. The tomb consists of arched lobbies. The high walls surround a square garden which is divided into four large squares. The pathways form a Mughal garden known as ‘charbagh’ which is decorated with fountains. The combination of red sandstone with black and yellow stone was used to give variation. The roof is surmounted by a high marble double dome and has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it.
The complex of Humayun's Tomb consists of many small monuments. The most significant among them are the black-and-yellow marble tombs of Humayun's wife and the tomb of Humayun's barber. Well known as Nai Ka Gumbad, the barber's tomb is an impressive square tomb with a double marble dome which is located on the south western region of the tomb and standing on a raised platform. Inside Barber's Tomb, there are two graves inscribed with verses from the Quran. On the southeastern region, just outside the enclosure of Humayun’s Tomb lies Nila-Gumbad (blue dome). Nila-Gumbad it is believed to have been built in 1625 by 'Abdu'r-Rahim Khan Khan-i-Khanan and is said to contain the remains of Fahim Khan, one of his faithful attendants. There is some indication, however, that the tomb may have existed even before the construction of Humayun's Tomb and may, therefore, contain the remains of some other person.
Isa Khan's Tomb stands to the south of Bu'-Halima's garden. 'Isa Khan was a nobleman at the courts of Sher Shah Suri (1539-45). The tomb of Sabz-Burj stands with four wide and four narrow sides ('Muthamman-i-Baghdadi'). The high recessed arches and colourful tiles add to the beauty this ‘green dome’. Other structures of the Mughal period are Nili-Chhatri, tomb of Naubat Khan, a noble man of Akbar's court. They all can be visited uptill 10 pm on all days of the week.
Humayun's Tomb has much more to explore- tombs, rooms, terraces, gardens and other smaller structures. The rich Mughal history is surely captivating.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Delhi is between October and March, when the weather is very pleasant and totally conducive for sightseeing in this historic city. Delhi is culturally alive at this time of the year with lots of concerts and theatre performances. By the time February comes, the flowers are a riot of colour and the city is really quite pretty then. Summer temperatures are unbearably hot and dry, so do come prepared for the weather.