Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of India’s second Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb was built by his first wife, Empress Bega Begum. She was also known as Haji Begum. But as per some historians, its major constructions were taken care of by Akbar in the memory of his father when Bega Begum was at Haj visit. Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son Sayyid Muhammad which were Persian architects were the main designers of the tomb. The tomb is under UNESCO World Heritage Site. Qutub Minar is also under this tag. The main tomb took over eight years to build.
Table of Contents
- About Humayun
- History Timeline
- Vlog of Humayun’s Tomb with Couch Surfing Group
- Design of Humayun’s Tomb
- Paradise Garden
- Monuments in Humayun’s Tomb Complex
- Restoration Work of Humayun’s tomb
- Fare and Timings
- Nearest Metro
- Google Map
Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad, better named Humayun was born on 6th March 1508 in Kabul which is presently in Afghanistan. He died on 27th January 1556 at the age of 47 in Delhi, was the second Mughal Emperor of the Mughal Empire.
As per the historians, he was kind and considerate to his subjects. He ruled over what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan, Northern India, and Bangladesh. His father was Babur. At the age of 22, he came into power after succeeding his father. His half-brother, Kamran Mirza inherited Kabul and Kandahar and become a hard rival of Humayun.
Humayun lost Mughal territories to Sher Shah Suri. He was in exile. He was to the refuge of the Safavid Empire in Persia with his 40 men and his wife Bega Begum. They never left Humayun and his wife was present with him through mountains and valleys. They used horse meat which was boiled in soldier’s helmets for survival. Shah Tahmasp was Shah of Iran, emperor of Iran, helped him with 12000 cavalry and 300 veterans to recover his lost domain. The Shah urged Humayun to convert from Sunni to Shia Islam, and Humayun accepted in order to save several hundred followers. Shah Tahmasp gave him the condition that he Humayun wins the war against Askari Mirza, Kandahar would be under his control and Humayun agreed to this.
Humayun regained his throne after 15 years. After coming back to the throne, he expanded the Empire in a very short span of time leaving behind a huge legacy for Akbar.
Vlog of Humayun’s Tomb with Couch Surfing Group
Design of Humayun’s Tomb
Humayun’s tomb is designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyaswhi who was a Persian architect chosen by Beba Begum. The tomb is built with red sandstone and white marble. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It was also the first structure to use red sandstone on a large scale.
The complex has the main tomb of Emperor Humayun, which has graves of Empress Bega Begum, Hamida Begum, and the headless grave of Dara Shikoh, great great grandson of Humayun and son of Emperor Shah Jahan. Around 160 Mughal family people are buried in the tomb. River Yamuna flows behind it. 5 Mughal Kings along with other Mughal family members are buried. There are 64 rooms at the base. It represents Mughal architecture and has a typical Persian garden called Charbagh. It is also called Paradise Garden.
The tomb is built of rubble masonry, red stone, and white marble is used as a cladding material and also for flooring, eaves, door frames, and for the main dome. It is square in design and chamfered on the edges giving an octagonal appearance. The plinth is made with rubble core with 65 cells all around having more than 100 graves. It has a height of 47 meters and the plinth is 91 meters and has a double dome structure inspired by Persian architecture. It has a brass finial at the top of the dome.
It has a complex interior floor plan with a “square ninefold plan”. The main cenotaph of the Emperor lies in here. The cenotaph is aligned on a north-south axis as per Islamic tradition. All the heads in the graves point towards Northside and legs towards Southside. The faces are turned towards Mecca. Access to the main cenotaph is restricted for common people. The is so designed that it resembles the concept of Paradise in Islamic cosmology.
The tomb is in the center of 30 are garden known as Char Bagh or 4 Gardens. It is a Persian-style garden. It is also called Paradise garden as the construction is similar to Paradise mentioned in Quran with two bisecting water channels, which act as four rivers that flow in Jannat. The water channels appear to be disappearing beneath the tomb and reappear on the other side similar to the Quranic verse, which says rivers flow beneath the ‘Garden of Paradise’.
The gardens and the tomb is enclosed within high rubble walls on three sides and are open from the fourth side where the river Yamuna used to flow.
Monuments in Humayun’s Tomb Complex
Mosque and Tomb of Isa Khan
The Tomb of Isa Khan Niazi is present in the Humayun’s Tomb complex. He was noble at the courts of Sher Shah Suri. It is octagonal in shape, made of mainly red sandstone during the reign of Sher Shah Suri.
It is located to the west of the main tomb and south of Bu Halima’s garden.
It is in Lodhi architectural style. It is placed in an octagonal garden and with an octagonal shape.
The entire family of Isa Khan is buried in this tomb. A mosque is built on the western side of this tomb with the help of red sandstone. The has a resemblance with other monuments of the Lodhi Gardens in Delhi.
Garden and Tomb of Bu Halima
Bu Halima’s tomb is located to the west of the Humayun’s tomb. When you enter the area, it is left to your side. This rectangular enclosure is filled with a green, well-trimmed garden with a neat pathway leading us towards the Humayun’s tomb. Rectangular in shape and constructed with brightly colored stones. The tomb is octagonal in shape. It has been said that she used to take care of the gardens and holds an important post in Babur’s reign.
Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque
As per the local guide, the officers used to take rest in this area, that’s why it is called Afsarwala.
It is the tomb of prominent officers at that time. Still, Namaz is done in the mosque. It is situated at the southwest end of the complex.
Serai means rest. Guests and their horses used to take a rest in it. It is basically a rest house for guests from Arab or any country. It stands adjacent to the Afsarwala Mosque and was built by Bega Begum. It is also said that it was built for the craftsmen who came for the construction work. It has the capacity to hold around 300 people. Arched cells are present in the building against its enclosure walls. Beautiful trees are present near the building.
Nila Gumbad or Nila Burj stands outside the complex of the Humayun’s tomb. “Blue Dome” or Nila Gumbad is said because of blue glazed tiles.
It was built by Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana son of Bairam Khan. It has a unique structure with an octagonal shape outside and squares inside.
Nai Ka Gumbad
Barber’s Tomb or Nai Ka Gumbad. It is the tomb of Humayun’s favorite barber. It is located to the southeast of the Humayun’s tomb. It is inside the complex of Humayun’s tomb.
There are no inscriptions on the tomb and the name Nai Ka Gumbad is given by the locals only. It is also made of red sandstone. Water channels are present around the tomb.
Restoration Work of Humayun’s tomb
In 1999, restoration work is done by Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) along with the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and was completed in March 2003. Craftsmen from Bharatpur and Dholpur used to work in the restoration of the tomb. A separate workshop was made. The stones used were from Bharatpur, Rajasthan. It took a complete day to craft a 2×2 feet rock. Cement is not used in the restoration work.
Chuna Masala is used. It has a special property that it absorbs CO2 from the air and the construction becomes stronger day by day. That’s why Mughal constructions are still standing. It is also said that these constructions require water bodies to survive. Therefore the majority of the constructions are built nearby rivers like Taj Mahal near the Yamuna river and the Humayun’s tomb itself. If the water supply is stopped, it might harm the monuments.
Labors were numbered so that coordination of work can be done properly. They were divided into different group sections and the task was also divided. No heavy machinery was used. Only hand-made construction is done. The technology of laser scanning was used to predict the design and later were restored. During British rule, some portion of the tomb was cemented which was damaging the main construction. Around 10 Lac Kg layer of cement was removed by hands. For the processing of the blue tiles, workers and experts were called from Uzbekistan and Iran.
Fare and Timings
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Mathura Road, Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India
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Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium (JLN) Metro on Violet Line