Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun was the second Mughal emperor of India (1508 to 1556). An interesting life, having lost an empire, fleeing to Persia and then regaining the empire after retreats and extensive travels. His tomb was constructed by one of his wives and is situated at Delhi. One afternoon in June 2012,I could find some time to revisit this place even as the temperature was hovering around 44 C. Was pleasantly surprised to find after several decades, that the site has been extensively renovated, the gardens relaid and the water channels repaired. It has also been declared a World Heritage Monument. Relaying of the gardens has been a major effort, with 2500 saplings of specifically those trees that were originally planted by the Mughals in conformity with the original plan of the entire area being divided into equal quads by water channels and the approach itself has also been relaid ..  

Just inside the entrance is another enclosure housing the octagonal tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble under Sher Shah who drove away Humayun the first time around. This is off limits at present, being very painstakingly renovated, including stone carvings, paintings and ceramics. Once completed, the tomb of Isa Khan and Humayun would provide an excellent study in contrasting architectural styles.  

The Queens' Gate. The exteriors were well laid out with ceramic tiles, some of which can still be seen from the inside view. Despite the heat, there were lots of people milling around

Immediately to the right is a small compound housing a mosque and a tomb, believed to have been inhabited by the actual builders and craftsmen who built the Tomb. The gateway to this compound is an imposing structure with balconies, where some of the original ceramic tile ornamentation has survived the ravages of time

This compound has what is called the Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque

Coming out of this compound, one enters the main complex through the West Gate, another imposing structure, and it also has offices of the ASI in it, as well as museum spaces showcasing remains of original ceramics, a model of the entire complex, various lattice designs etc. Craftsmen were at work with sandstone panels just outside the gate

The main complex is surrounded on all sides by niched walls

The Humayun's Tomb is also a direct precursor of the Taj Mahal, built about one century later on the same general plan, including the layout of the gardens, but on a much grander scale. 

I started from the left side and with the sun beating down, there was nary a soul in sight. It was incredibly beautiful and one could immediately sense being in the presence of something created by man that surpasses the ordinary, the mundane, and attempting to reach out to the truly sublime ..

The Tomb is 47 meters in height and the brass finial is 6 meters. It has got nearly 150 tombs of lesser personages housed in it, which is why its also called the Dormitory of the Mughals! 

By the time I could complete just one round, my tongue was literally hanging out, unaccustomed as I was, to the oppressive heat and some shade looked wonderfully inviting so I just lay down flat on the grass

The six pointed star, which I understand is the Jewish emblem, was actually a favorite of the Mughals

The canopies were all covered with ceramic tiles, a decidedly Persian influence and one hopes that the original splendour would somehow be regained after completion of the restoration exercise, dazzlingly blue, yellow and burgundy set off magnificently against the central dome in marble.

One must mention some poetry in parting, found translated from one of the many sandstone and marble carvings in the Tomb - 

God is the Light of the heavens
and the earth
The parable of His Light
is as if there were a niche,
and within it a lamp;
the lamp enclosed in glass;
the glass a brilliant star,
lit from a blessed tree,
an olive neither of the East
nor the West,
whose oil is luminous
though the fire scarce touched it.
Light upon Light!
God doth guide 
Whom He will to his Light 

Chapter 24, Verse 35 

1 comment:

  1. So lovely to see you posting, my friend! Beautiful architecture, and interesting history, as always.....it must be glorious to investigate all of these places of historical interest. I enjoyed this very much. I'm just back from a trip to the Okanagan, which felt like globe-trotting to me:) Was so nice to see you popping up on my blogroll. How is every little thing?