Saturday, 8 October 2016

Delhi Diaries:Humayun's Tomb

The awe inspiring Humayun's tomb is one of the grand dynastic mausoleums which is synonymous to architectural beauty of the Mughal dynasty. It was the first garden tomb in the Indian subcontinent and the perfect example of Persian architecture. The Humayun's tomb was commissioned in 1526 nine years after the death of Humayun. Humayun's garden tomb is far grander tomb than any built in the Islamic world. The construction is an example of charbagh style with pools joined by channels.

Hamida Banu Begum, his grieving widow, built Emperor Humayun’s mausoleum. Precursor to Taj Mahal, it stands on the platform of 12000 meter square and reaches a height of 47 meter. The architect of the tomb was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian. The earliest example of Persian influence in Indian architecture, the tomb has within it over 100 graves, earning it the name ‘Dormitory of the Mughals’. Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the first to use red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities. The small canopies on the terrace were originally covered in glazed blue tiles, and the brass finial over the white marble dome is itself 6 meter high. The mausoleum is a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian traditions, the former exemplified by the arched alcoves, corridors and the high double dome, and the latter by the kiosks, which give it s pyramidal outline from distance.

The mausoleum itself stands on a high wide terraced platform with two bay deep vaulted cells on all four sides. It has an irregular octagonal plan with four long sides and chambered edges. It is surmounted by a 42.5 m high double dome clad with marble flanked by pillared kiosks, which is the first Indian building with such intricate. The symmetrical design on the exterior is in sharp contrast with the complex interior floor plan of the chambers which is a square nine fold plan where eight two storyed vaulted chambers radiate from the central, double height domed chamber.Underneath this white tomb,lies the central octagonal sepulcher, the burial chamber containing single cenotaph, aligned on north south axis as per the Islamic tradition.

Another structure in the premises is the Isa Khan’s Tomb Enclosure. Isa Khan Niyazi was a noble in the court of Sher Shah Suri. This enclosure includes his tomb and a mosque, both built in his lifetime. The octagonal tomb, pr-dating Humayun’s tomb by only 20 years has striking ornamentation in the form of canopies, glazed tiles and lattice screens. Along the western side of the enclosure, the three bay wide mosque has a grand red sandstone central bay and striking mihrabs. Until the early 20th century, an entire village had been settled in the enclosure.

Arab Serai Gate is a 14 meter high gateway led to the walled enclosure which housed the Persian craftsman who came here for building of the Humayun’s tomb. Red sandstone and white marble inlay work add a striking touch to the gateway, mostly built of Delhi quartzite stone. The projecting jharokas still display remnants of the glazed ceramic tiles. Another structure which the folklore describes as the Barber's Tomb, has red sand stones facade, tiled canopies, minarets and sandstone screens. The tomb has ornamental cenotaphs of one male and female.

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