Humayun’s Tomb

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Humayun’s Tomb

Said to be the forerunner of The Taj Mahal, this mausoleum is the final resting place of Humayun, the 2nd Great Mughal. Built in 1565 AD by the emperor’s widow, Hamida Banu Begum, it is the first Mughal Tomb in India.

Said to be the forerunner of The Taj Mahal, this mausoleum is the final resting place of Humayun, the 2nd Great Mughal.  Built in 1565 AD by the emperor’s widow, Hamida Banu Begum, it is the first Mughal Tomb in India.

Humayun came to power in 1530AD and ruled till 1542AD when he was ousted by the Afghan chief, Sher Shah Sur. Taking refuge in Persia, from being a strict Sunni, he not only became a liberal due to the Shia influence of the Persian Court, but brought from there the art of miniature painting to India. In 1555, leading a Persian army, Humayun recaptured Hindustan, taking Delhi in AUG1555AD. He died on 24JAN1556 – becoming the only Mughal Emperor with an interrupted reign viz 1530-42 and 1555-56AD.

The Tomb is set in a formal garden the style of which was brought to India by Babar, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty. This style of garden is known as Char Bagh or 4 gardens, where the site was divided into 4 squares, each then being further divided into 4 squares by means of footpaths and water canals. Water tanks located at the crossings of canals were equipped with fountains whose cooling sprays lowered the ambient temperature in the garden.

This magnificent monument built of red sand stone with marble inlays, delicate filigree screens and intricate carvings represents many firsts in the Mughal architecture of India: it was the first garden tomb; the first to be built with a double dome – the inner one to match the interior proportions, and the outer one to maintain balance of exterior form; the first tomb to have a dome set on a drum; and, the first to use marble inlay extensively to emphasize architectural form.

Sadly, the monument, a leisure retreat for later Mughal emperors, also saw the death throes of the dynasty. It was here, in the tomb of his ancestor, that the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar took refuge from the British in 1857. On the promise of amnesty for him and his family, the emperor surrendered, but was exiled to Burma, and his sons butchered under the Khooni Darwaza by the British. Numerous Mughal kings, princes and family members are buried in here as this tomb was also envisaged as the family crypt.

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