Humayun's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun's wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 AD, and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and is located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India, close to the Dina-panah citadel also known as Purana Qila (Old Fort), that Humayun founded in 1533. It was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale.
The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is still underway. Besides the main tomb enclosure of Humayun, several smaller monuments dot the pathway leading up to it, from the main entrance in the West, including one that even pre-dates the main tomb itself, by twenty years; it is the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri's court of the Suri dynasty, who fought against the Mughals, constructed in 1547 CE.
The site was chosen on the banks of Yamuna river, due to its proximity to Nizamuddin Dargah, the mausoleum of the celebrated Sufi saint of Delhi, Nizamuddin Auliya, who was much revered by the rulers of Delhi, and whose residence, Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya lies just north-east of the tomb. In later Mughal history, the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar took refuge here, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, along with three princes, and was captured by Captain Hodson before being exiled to Rangoon. At the time of the Slave Dynasty this land was under the 'KiloKheri Fort' which was capital of Sultan Kequbad, son of Nasiruddin (1268–1287).
Turkic and Mughal rule in the Indian subcontinent, also introduced Central Asian and Persian styles of Islamic architecture in the region, and by late 12-century early monuments in this style were appearing in and around Delhi, the capital of Delhi Sultanate. Starting with the Turkic Slave dynasty which built the Qutb Minar (1192 AD) and its adjacent Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque (1193 CE). North India was successive ruled foreign dynasties in the coming centuries giving rise to the Indo-Islamic architecture.
While the prevailing style of architecture was trabeate, employing pillars, beams and lintels, this brought in the arcuate style of construction, with its arches and beams, which flourished under Mughal patronage and by incorporating elements of Indian architecture, especially Rajasthani architecture including decorative corbel brackets, balconies, pendentive decorations and indeed kiosks or chhatris, to developed a distinct, Mughal architecture style, which was to become a lasting legacy of the nearly four hundred years of the Mughal rule. The combination of red sandstone and white marble was previously seen in Delhi Sultanate period tombs and mosques, most distinctively in the highly decorative Alai Darwaza in the Qutub complex, Mehrauli, built in 1311 AD, under the Khilji dynasty.
The building was first to use its unique combination of red sandstone and white marble, and includes several elements of Indian architectural, like the small canopies, or chhatris surrounding the central dome, popular in Rajasthani architecture and which were originally covered with blue tiles.
Char Bagh Garden :
While the main tomb took over eight years to build, it was also placed in centre of a 30-acre (120,000 m2) Char Bagh Garden (Four Gardens), a Persian-style garden with quadrilateral layout and was the first of its kind in the South Asia region in such a scale. The highly geometrical and enclosed Paradise garden is divided into four squares by paved walkways (khiyabans) and two bisecting central water channels, reflecting the four rivers that flow in jannat, the Islamic concept of paradise. Each of the four square is further divided into smaller squares with pathways, creating into 36 squares in all, a design typical of later Mughal gardens. The central water channels appear to be disappearing beneath the tomb structure and reappearing on the other side in a straight line, suggesting the Quranic verse, which talks of rivers flowing beneath the 'Garden of Paradise'.
Barber's Tomb :
Towards the south-east corner, within the 'char bagh' garden, lies a tomb known as Nai-ka-Gumbad, or Barber's Tomb, belonging to royal barber, it is datable to 1590-91 CE, through an inscription found inside. Its proximity to the main tomb and the fact that it is the only other structure within the main tomb complex suggests its importance, however there are no inscriptions suggesting as to who is interred therein, the name Barbers tomb is the local name of the structure, hence still in use.
Other monuments :
- Tomb and mosque of Isa Khan
- Bu Halima's Tomb and Garden
- Afsarwala Tomb and mosque
- Arab Sarai
- Nila Gumbad
- Chillah Nizamuddin Aulia
As a part of on-going restoration work, in 2009, ASI and Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) after months of manual work using hand-tools, removed a thick layer of cement concrete from the roof that was putting a pressure of about 1,102 tons on the structure.
The cement concrete was originally laid in 1920s to prevent water seepage and led to a blockage in water passages, after its removal, subsequently each time there was leakage, a fresh layer of cement was added, leading to accumulated thickness of about 40 cm, this has now been replaced traditional lime-based roof layer. In the next phase, a similar treatment was given to tomb's first chabutra (plinth), originally paved with large blocks of quartzite stone blocks, some weighing over a 1,000 kg, though in the 1940s, an uneven settlement in the lower plinth was corrected by covering it with a layer of concrete adding to the disfigurement the original Mughal flooring, which matched with that at the West Gate.
The mausoleum today :
At present, threats to this monument arise from a potential terrorist attack or from vandalism as well as the regular mushrooming of illegal constructions and plastic waste thrown within the prohibited area around Humayun's Tomb. Threats of terrorist attack also lead to a sharp decline in tourist revenue which directly affects the upkeep of the monuments.
The Mumbai terrorist attacks of late 2008 saw a fall in tourist traffic to Humayun's tomb by more than 6000 in two months. Ill thought out construction plans like The Delhi Government's plans in 2006/2007 to build a new tunnel to connect East Delhi to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
, Delhi in South Delhi, and to widen the roads near the tomb for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to connect National Highway-24 with Lodhi Road, also posed a serious threat to the monument. Urban planners feared that the historic monument would not have been able to withstand the vibrations ensuing from the construction work in such close proximity. Finally, the Archaeological Survey of India was able to halt the plans. Durs