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Explore: Photo Essay

By Abhishek Anid Dutta

We owe the grandeur of Delhi’s Humayun’s Tomb to the grief of an inconsolable widow. After her husband’s death in 1556, the grieving Bega Begum vowed to dedicate her life to one sole purpose - the construction of a magnificent memorial to her husband.

Her memorial, Humayun’s Tomb, has been a part of the Delhi skyline for hundreds of years, but the ravages of Partition, and the inevitable passage of time, had sadly left their mark on the monument.

Date Published: 16th June 2016

Humayun's Tomb

Bega Begum wanted the tomb to reflect Quranic aesthetics, hence the beatiful gardens and, especially, the use of water in these very gardens. Water flows in channels that seem to disappear beneath the tomb and reappear on the other side, suggesting a Quranic verse which talks of rivers flowing beneath the 'Garden of Paradise'

Humayun's Tomb

Six years of sensitive restoration have restored Humayum’s Tomb to its former glory, and from this first magnificent view, framed through the archway, visitors are treated to fine Mughal arcgitecture which has been brought back to life.

Humayun's Tomb

The 20th century was not kind to the monument. Not only was the complex encroached upon by migrants, but also less than sensitive earlier so-called restoration work had weakened the structures. Thick layers of concrete were removed, that were not only ugly but had exerted severe pressure on the mausoleum. In the place of the concrete, traditional lime-based plaster was used.

Humayun's Tomb

The striking combination of red sandstone and white marble is the hallmark of Humayun’s Tomb, an architectural precursor of the Taj Mahal. Humayun’s Tomb marked a leap in Mughal architecture and splendour, but another 100 years would elapse before the Taj would be built.

Humayun's Tomb

The tomb we see today is fairly simple and pared down. When Willam Finch, an English merchant, visited the tomb in 1611, he describes the rich interior furnishing of the central chamber - there were carpets and a shamiana (tent) and the late Emperor’s sword and turban on display.

Humayun's Tomb

Intricately carved jaalis, or stone lattice screens, are an integral part of Mughal architceture. Usually they used geometric patterns, and not only is the light filtered gently through the “jaali”, but the dynamics of the air flow through the screen actually lowers the temperature.

Humayun's Tomb

There are many other tombs within the grounds and gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, but none is more beautiful nor significant than that of the nobleman of Isa Khan Niazi. His garden tomb is considered to be the very earliest example in India of a sunken garden attached to a tomb. It is a little gem that only adds to the importance of the whole complex.

Humayun's Tomb

Arabesque calligraphy is one of the leit-motivs running through Mughal architecture, and in the case of this inscription, it has acquired the patina of age.

Humayun's Tomb

There are many minor tombs in the complex, such as these, standing quietly and simply in a row, largely untouched bythe restortaion work.

Humayun's Tomb

Framed within a frame within an arch - there are so many levels to this photo of local visitors to the Tomb, but the smiles on their faces says it all.

Humayun's Tomb

The final resting place of an emperor, and a beloved husband, is a simple, almost low-key marble tomb. It is elegant and restrained and an eloquent counterpoint to the sumptuous mausoleum.





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