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India: Humayun Tomb

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Humayun Tomb | India | Asia

[Visited: September 2014]

Half a year earlier, I had wanted to visit Humayun's tomb at the end of the day, but I arrived just half an hour before closing time, and decided it was not worth it. Now, I am back in the Indian capital, and my mind is set on seeing the resting place of the second Mughal emperor. I arrive well ahead of sunset this time, which gives me plenty of time to explore. Instead of heading straight to the mausoleum of Humayun, I take a right, and enter the enclosed garden-tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi through a stone gate in the octagonal enclosing wall. Before me, at the end of a cobblestone path, the mausoleum of Isa Khan rises above the neatly kept garden. I start by walking around the building, and when I get closer, I get a better view of the faded glazed tiles on the domes, the canopies and lattice screens that adorn the outside of the building.

Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Humayun's tomb reflected in a pool in the late afternoon

Inside, I find white marble tombs, with Arabic calligraphy, and a richly decorated niche on the western side. The mausoleum has been restored, and the fine decorations in the cupola appear very new. During the renovations, it was discovered that this mid-16th century mausoleum included a sunken garden, making it the oldest one of Delhi. I walk to the small three-bay mosque with mehrabs. A small group of white-robed Moslims ask me for some water, and use it to rub the wall: an Arabic inscription appears in the red sandstone. It is interesting that Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble of the Sur dynasty who fought the Mughal Empire, would be entered on the same grounds as Humayun. After all, he first lost Delhi and much of his father's empire to Sher Shah Suri, but regained it before accidentally falling to his death on the stairs of the Sher Mandal at nearby Purana Qila. The mausoleum of Isa Khan was built in his lifetime, some twenty years before the mausoleum of Humayun.

Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Isa Khan's tomb at the end of a cobblestone path

Time has come to finally see Humayun's mausoleum for myself. I walk through a breach in the wall, and several huge and decorated gates, until I step through the last gate. Straight ahead of me, I see a red-white symmetrical building, with white cupolas and pointed high arches, with well-tended gardens at its feet. When I walk a little closer, the warm afternoon light falling on this elegant Persian-style building is reflected in a small pool. This is the obvious spot where many Indians pose for their pictures. Climbing the steep stairs brings me to a large raised platform, on which I find several white marble tombs. A soft wind blows around the building, cooling the visitors on the platform. Inside, I find many small halls with tombs, before I reach the central hall in which a larger marble tomb contains the remains of Humayun itself. When I walk back through the gardens, the light becomes even softer, and the reflection in the pool warmer. I watch the scene until the light slowly dies out.

Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Prayer hall opposite Isa Khan's mausoleum
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): The gateway to Humayun's tomb
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): The mausoleum of Isa Khan
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Arched red-and-white base of the mausoleum of Humayun
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): The octagonal mausoleum of Isa Khan holds six marble tombs
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Niche in the mausoleum of Isa Khan
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Decorated roof of Isa Khan's mausoleum
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Tombs on the plaza outside the mausoleum of Humayun
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): One of the tombs inside the mausoleum of Humayun
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Tomb inside Isa Khan's mausoleum
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): Central hall of the mausoleum of Humayun with his tomb
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): View of the western side of Isa Khan's tomb
Picture of Humayun Tomb (India): The lane leading to Humayun's Tomb with reflection in the narrow water channel

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