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Indian Monuments » Humayun's Tomb

About Humayun's Tomb

The Garden Tomb Humayun's tomb lies on the Mathura road near its crossing with the Lodi Road. High rubble-built walls enclose here a square garden divided initially into four large squares separated by causeways and channels, each square divided again into smaller squares by pathways ('Chaharbagh') as in a typical Mughal garden. The lofty mausoleum is located in the centre of the enclosure and rises from a podium faced with series of cells with arched openings. The central octagonal chamber containing the cenotaph is encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and arched lobbies on the sides, their openings closed with perforated screens. Three emphatic arches dominate each side, the central one being the highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey, and a 42.5m high double dome of marble surmounts the roof with pillared kiosks ('chhatris') placed around it. The structure is built with red sandstone, but white and black marble has been used to relieve the monotony, the latter largely in the borders. Haveli Of Hakeem Ashanullah Khan The haveli of Hakeem Ashanullah Khan, personal physician of the emperor Bahdur Shah Zafar, was a fortress for those who were able to hide themselves here in the 'ghadar'- the Sepoy Mutiny time. The mansion almost covers 2,000-square-yards and appears to be a mohalla itself. It was because of the orders of the Hakeem that Ghalib was given the scholarship to write the history of the Mughal dynasty. Immediately after the Mutiny, British confiscated the house of the Hakeem. It was soon returned too, but not before it was stripped of the old chandeliers and lamps. True Mughal Architecture The tomb was built by Humayun's senior widow Bega Begam, popularly known as Haji Begam, nine years after his death in 1565 according to some, but fourteen years according to the manuscript of an 18th century text. It is the first substantial example of the Mughal architecture, with high arches and double dome, which occurs here for the first time in India. Although some tombs had already been sited within gardens, it is also the first mature example of the idea of garden-tomb, which culminated in the Taj-Mahal at Agra. The enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways, one on the west and the other on the south, the latter now remaining closed. A 'baradari' (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall of the enclosure and a bath-chamber that of the northern wall. A Homage To The Royal Dynasty Several rulers of the Mughal dynasty lie buried in the mausoleum, although it is not possible to identify their graves. Among those lying buried here are Bega Begam, Hamida Banu Begam - Humayun's junior wife, Dara Shikoh - Shah Jahan's son, and the later Mughals, Jalandar Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Rafi'u'd-Darajat, Rafi'u'd-Daula and 'Alamgir II, Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor of Delhi had taken shelter in this tomb with the three princes during the mutiny and was captured here in 1857 by Lieutenant Hodson.
AROUND THE TOMB Barber's Tomb Within the compound of Humayun's tomb to its southeast stands an impressive square tomb with a double-dome. It is not quite known who is buried inside it, although it is usually referred to as Barber's tomb. There are two graves inside it inscribed with verses from the Quran. One of the graves is inside it inscribed with verses from the Quran. One of the graves is inscribed with the figure 999, which may stand for the 'Hijra' year corresponding to 1590-91. Nila-Gumbad Outside the Humayun's tomb enclosure on the southeastern side stands an impressive tomb of plastered stone covered with a dome of blue tiles. Octagonal externally but square within, its ceiling is profusely decorated with painted and incised plaster. With its high neck and absence of a double dome, which would be usual for this period, it is a unique construction. Conforming to its general colourful appearance around its drum are traces of tiles of other colours. Known as Nila-Gumbad (blue dome), 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. Arab-Sarai The Arab-Sarai consists of a large enclosure adjoining the southwestern corner of Humayun's tomb. It is divided into two quadrangles by series of cells provided with a gateway in the centre.

The western enclosure has now been occupied by the Industrial Training Institute. Immediately outside its lofty eastern entrance approached by a gateway from the east, with traces of paintings on its underside, is the second quadrangle,originally bounded by arched cells, which is known as the 'mandi' (market) and was added by Mihr Banu Agha, chief eunuch of Jahangir. The northern gate of the Arab-Sarai lies immediately to the right of the eastern gate of Bu'- Halima's garden.

It is said that the Arab-Sarai was built by Bega Begam or Haji Begam for three hundred Arab 'mullas' (priests) whom she had brought from Mecca. It is, however, suspected by some that the Arab-Sarai might possibly be a misnomer, and the enclosure probably housed Persian workers and craftsmen who were engaged in building Humayun's tomb. Chilla-Nizamu'd-Din Auliya Outside the north-eastern corner of Humayun's tomb are the remains of certain rooms with 'verandahs'. It is believed that this place was used by Shaikh Nizam-ud-Din Auliya who died in 1325 and whose dargah is described elsewhere, although the constructional features of an adjacent double-storeyed house point out to its construction during the reign of Humayun or Akbar. Bara-Batashewala-Mahal Within an enclosure to the north of Humayun's tomb, now occupied by the Bharat Scouts and Guides, there are some monuments. The largest of these, known as Bara-Batashewala-Mahal, stands on a raised platform each of its sides pierced by five arches with a vaulted chamber in the centre. Originally it was surrounded by a walled enclosure, which has now disappeared Over the entrance to the central chamber is an inscription from which we learn that Mirza Muzaffar was buried here in 1012 A.H. (1603). Mirza Muzaffar Husain, whose grandfather came from Khurasan to Babur's court, was the son of Gulrukh Begam, daughter of Humayun's brother Mirza Kamran. He was married to the eldest daughter of Akbar, Sultan Khanam. About 40m east from Bara-Batashewala-Mahal but within its original enclosure stands another rubble-built tomb with a central chamber, square within and octagonal externally, with floral, geometrical and inscriptional decoration in incised plaster on the interior. It is known as Chhota-Batashewala-Mahal. The identity of the person buried in the tomb is not known. Afsarwala Mosque And Tomb Within the eastern enclosure of the Arab-Sarai lies a mosque on a raised platform. Its prayer-chamber is faced by three arched openings, the central bay being roofed by a dome. In alignment with the mosque to its north is a long dilapidated hall with arched openings. At the southeastern corner of the mosque on the same raised platform stands an octagonal tomb with double dome. The tomb and the mosque go under the name of Afsarwala. The identity of the 'Afsar' or officer who raised these buildings is not known. One of the graves inside the tomb bears the figures 974, which may refer to Hijra year corresponding to 1566-67. Both the mosque and tomb may have been built about that time. Bu'-Halima's Garden As the visitor approaches Humayun's tomb from Mathura road, he passes through a rectangular enclosure with a tomb in its northern half and a gateway on its east, which is in the same alignment as the main entrance of Humayun's tomb. Since the northern wall of the Arab-Sarai abuts on the plastered exterior of the eastern enclosure of this garden, it may have existed before the Arab-Sarai, built by Humayun's senior widow. The garden is known as Bu'-Halima's garden, and an unidentified lady is believed to have been interred in the above-mentioned tomb. The coloured tiles, traces of which still exist on the entrance facing the Humayun's tomb, combined with the use of sandstone, both set in plaster, lend it a picturesque charm. It is doubtful, however, if the garden was originally laid for this tomb, as the latter is not in former's centre, as usual in garden-tombs.


The summer season begins from April and ends in the month of June. During the summers the average maximum temperature is 40°C and minimum temperature is 25ºC. The monsoon arrives the city in early July and continues till the end of September. The winter extends from late November to February. The temperature in winters varies between 21°C to 5°C. January is the coldest month when the temerature drops to a minimum of 0 °C.


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