Magnificent mausoleum

Print edition : July 20, 2018

Humayun’s Tomb. The white marble cenotaph in the central octagonal tomb chamber with its well-proportioned storeys of arched openings and carved stone jalis. The surrounding floor is decorated in a simple pattern of stars in black and white marble.

The tomb stands on a high podium with 17 arched openings on each side giving access to burial chambers. Five linked Baghdadi octagonal chambers house several tombs. The main chamber is the taller one in the centre and is roofed by a double dome mounted on a drum. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

The West Gate, which is now the public entrance to the tomb garden. The South gate remains closed. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Sher Mandal, Humayun’s library in Purana Qila, Delhi, where he fell to his death in January 1556. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

The ceiling at the entrance to the central tomb chamber is adorned by coloured plaster designed like the leaves of a palm tree. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Tomb stones in one of the smaller octagonal tomb chambers. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Humayun’s Tomb, set in a walled garden with flowing water and trees bearing flowers and fruits, is a fine example of the ninefold plan as adopted in Mughal architecture—consisting of a square (or rectangle), sometimes with corners fortified by towers but more often chamfered to form an irregular octagon. The layout is divided into nine parts by four intersecting construction lines, comprising a chamber in the centre and rectangular open halls in the middle of the sides. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Sunder Nursery, the 16th century garden tombs heritage complex adjacent to Humayun's Tomb, which was restored recently and opened to the public. Photo: Reyan Sinha

The rubble-built circular well, adjoining the northern gate, which supplied water to the bath and the channels of the garden. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Afsarwala mosque and tomb, dedicated to an unknown officer, within the complex. Built of local quartzite with red sandstone dressing, it is one of the several structures that are to be added to the UNESCO-approved heritage site buffer zone. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Barber’s Tomb (c. 1590-91), located within the Humayun Tomb complex, is believed to have been built for the emperor’s favourite barber. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Isa Khan’s tomb, which is also part of the heritage buffer zone. Built around 1547 during the reign of Islam Shah (Sher Shah’s son), it is octagonal like those of the Lodis and the Sayyids in Delhi. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, the popular Sufi saint’s residence, lies north-east of Humayun’s Tomb along the rubble boundary. Photo: Reyan Sinha

Dilapidated arched cells of Arab Sarai built around 1560-61, possibly to accommodate workers engaged in the construction of Humayun’s Tomb. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Arab Sarai Gate in the tomb complex. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

Sabz Burj (green dome) has a blue dome though originally it was green in colour. Original green, blue and yellow tiles can still be seen on its walls. Photo: SHASHANK SHEKHAR SINHA

A milestone in Indo-Islamic architecture, Humayun’s Tomb introduced several architectural innovations in the tradition of tomb and garden landscape in India.
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