Photo Walk: Humayun’s Tomb

The Mughals were an extravagant bunch, who didn’t hold back when constructing opulent structures. The Humayun Tomb Complex is testament to this affinity for luxury.

A photo walk was planned to visit Humayun Tomb complex. A few of my friends accompanied me on it, and the basic aim was to understand the architecture of the structures within the Humayun Tomb Complex. The day of the walk soon arrived, and we made our way Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, where the monument is located. We first gathered outside the gate of the Complex.

The Noticeboard outside the Complex.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall
The site is certified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

On reaching the tomb, we were awestruck by its beauty.  The tomb serves as the resting place of the Mughal Emperor, and was built in 1565 AD. It is a structure that stands testimony to the glory and power of the Mughals.  Charbagh, which are square shaped gardens, line the perimeter of the Tomb. This distinctive Mughal architectural feature is interspersed with water channels. The facade of the two storied building is constructed from red sandstone.

Angular view of the tomb.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

There are several tombs dedicated to other Mughal rulers within the whole complex. Out of these, we first visited the Afsarwala Mosque and Tomb which was built using marble  in 1566 AD. The front facade of the structure features three broad arches, and it is hence referred to as the ‘Trimukhi Masjid”. It houses the tomb of a nobleman who worked under Emperor Akbar.

Outside the Afsarwala Mosque.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

After surveying the Afsarwala Mosque, we entered  Bu Halima’s Garden and Tomb, located on the Western side of the premises. Bu Halima’s Tomb is made of sandstone set with intricate plasterwork that adds to the beauty of the structure. Bu Halima was one of the eminent noblewomen who played a major role in Babur’s dynasty of rule.

The group at the periphery of Bu Halima’s Tomb.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

We then came across Isa Khan’s Tomb and Mosque which is made of red sandstone. It resembles the tombs of other rulers from the Sur dynasty quite closely, and is surrounded by octagonal gardens. The structure was built in 1547 AD and acts as the grave of Isa Khan Niyazi ( a Pashtun noble) and his family.

The Isa Khan Mosque also contains a tomb in its perimeter.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall
The group outside Isa Khan Niyazi’s Tomb.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

Next, we surveyed the Barber’s Tomb (Nai Ka Gumbad) which was built around 1590 AD. It is built on a raised platform made with seven steps which lead into the main chamber of the structure. The main chamber of the tomb has two gravestones.

The Barber’s Tomb is made entirely out of red sandstone.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

We then approached the Arab-Sarai or ‘Rest House for the Arabs’ which  was commissioned by Hamida Banu Begum sometime between 1560 AD and 1561 AD to provide a temporary home to the labourers and artisans working on constructing Humayun’s tomb. The gateway that leads to the Rest House is adorned with elaborate stonework.

The archaic gateway to the Arab Sarai.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

In the end we visited the Nila Gumbad or ‘Blue coloured Dome’ ,a name derived from the blue tiles that decorate the dome of this structure, which was constructed by Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khanan.

The Neela Gumbad is marked as distinct by its blue roof.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

The exterior portion of Nila Gumbad is octagonal in shape, whereas the inner portion is square. The ceiling is ornate with incised plasterwork that has been painted and covered with glazed blue tiles.

All in all it was truly a walk to remember. We were able to understand the building techniques used to make these structures. We even shared our knowledge with some South Korean tourists.

We shared our findings and inferences with these South Korean tourists.
Image Courtesy: Chayan Dhall

The walk enabled us to look at how cultural contexts change the built heritage of a geographical area.  The Mughal era in India reflects this transformation of building styles, and thus is a good example of how cultural evolution affects built spaces.


Works Cited:

Humayun’s Tomb. Delhi Tourism Information. Web.


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