June 22, 2012

Humayun's Tomb - The inspiration for Taj Mahal

Site Name: Humayun's Tomb
Site Type: Tomb, heritage, Mughal architecture
Location:  Nizamuddin area, Delhi, India
Highlights: The inspiration for Taj Mahal, the world wonder; the tomb of the famous Mughal emperor Humayun

Nearest Railway Station: Delhi
Nearest Airport: Delhi
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Delhi city
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the city

Taj Mahal in Agra might be considered as one of the wonders of the world and it might be true that local and foreign tourists throng to visit the monument. However, if they visit Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, I am sure they would stop calling Taj Mahal as a wonder. Taj Mahal was inspired by this superior monument located in the capital city of India. The tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun was built by his wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1565 AD. The magnificent monument designed by the Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyath remains as an extraordinary heritage site in Delhi city for the past few centuries. Let us explore this place in detail.

Humayun's Tomb:

Within the enclosure, the square shaped garden is divided into four large squares separated by causeways and channels. Each square is further divided into smaller squares by pathways. The mausoleum is located in the center and rises from a podium. A series of cells with arched openings are found in the front side on the ground floor. The central octagonal chamber containing the centoph is encompassed by octagonal chambers at the diagonals and arched lobbies on the sides. The structure is mostly built with red sandstone.

The tomb was built by Humayun's wife in 1565 AD, nine years after Humayun's death. It is the first substantial example of the Mughal architecture in India. Although some tombs were already constructed with the gardens, it is also considered as the first mature example of garden tomb. The mausoleum has the graves of several Mughal rulers and their family members apart from that of Humayun. It includes the graves of Bega Begam, Shah Jahangir's son Jahandar Shah, the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II, etc.

Barber's Tomb:

An impressive square tomb with a double dome stands within the complext of Humayun's tomb. The tomb has two graves. Although it is not known who was buried, it is commonly called as Barber's Tomb.


Outside the Humayun's tomb enclosure on the south eastern side, an impressive tomb of plastered stone covered with a dome of blue tiles, stands. It is called as Nila-Gumbad. It is believed to have been built by Abdur Rahim Khan in 1625 AD and it contains the remains of a faithful attndant named Fahim Khan.

Arab Sarai:

Arab Sarai consists of a large enclosure adjoining the south western corner of Humayun's tomb. It is divided into two quadrangles by series of cells provided with a gateway in the centre. It is said that it was buit by Bega Begam for three hundred Arab priests whom she had brought from Mecca.

Afsarwala Mosque and Tomb:

Within the eastern enclosure of the Arab Sarai lies a mosque on a raised platform. A dilapidated hall with arched openings is found nearby. An octagonal tomb with double dome is also found nearby. The tomb and the mosque are called as Afsarwala although it is not known who was that "afsar" (officer) built these structures.

Some of the other interesting sites within the complex are Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, Bu-Halima's Garden, Isa Khan's Tomb, Bara Batashewala Mahal, Sabz Burj and Nili Chhatri.

Whether you go to Taj Mahal or not, it doesn't matter; however, you should definitely visit this place if you are a heritage lover.

Happy travelling.

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