Tomb of Emperor Humajun in Delhi

The mausoleum with the octagonal tomb made of red sandstone and marble strips was built by Emperor Humayun in Delhi in 1570. It is one of the most important facilities of the Mughal period. It was the model for the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Tomb of Emperor Humajun in Delhi: Facts

Official title: Emperor Humajun’s tomb in Delhi
Cultural monument: Tomb complex with an octagonal mausoleum made of red sandstone with marble strips for Humayun and his sons
Continent: Asia
Country: India
Location: Tomb on the banks of the Yamuna, on the southeast edge of Delhi
Appointment: 1993
Meaning: first »garden grave complex« on the Indian subcontinent and a highlight of Mughal architecture

Tomb of Emperor Humajun in Delhi: History

1526 Delhi as the capital of the Mughal Empire
1530-40 and 1555/56 Reign of Mughal Emperor Humayun
1564-73 Completion of the tomb begun at the request of Hajji Begum, Humayun’s eldest widow
1857 Arrest of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II at Humayun’s tomb
2003 Completion of the restoration work with the re-commissioning of the water features in the garden

An empress as a builder

Little is generally known about the wives of great statesmen, much less about the actual builders of famous structures. Most art historians also ignore the fact that the magnificent tomb for the Mughal emperor Humayun was commissioned by his widow Hajji Begum. It was not only the first building that a Mughal had built, but it also set significant accents for the “maturation” of Mughal architecture in the decades that followed. The 42.5 meter high dome, designed by the Persian master builder Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, turned out to be a prototype of the Mughal mausoleum, which only comes to dominate everything through the extensive park. In the 19th century the site served as a refuge for the last ruler of India, Bahadur Shah II (1775-1862).

Humayun, the son of the first and extremely successful Mughal emperor Babur, had met his wife under the name Hamida at a party held by his harem ladies. The fourteen-year-old was the daughter of the court master of his younger brother Hindal, who gave himself hope in the young lady. Humayun, who was 19 years older than him, wanted to marry Hamida on the spot. The dispute over youthful beauty could only be resolved by the older harem ladies after a month. The astrologers finally set 11:59 a.m. on August 21, 1541 as the “auspicious moment”.

A year later she gave birth to her first child, a son whom she named Akbar after her father. According to hyperrestaurant, he was to become the most important of the Mughal emperors of Turkic origin who ruled India for more than two centuries. Humayun himself was considered a hapless ruler, although his name means “the lucky one”. He was an intelligent esthete and romantic who loved art and intoxication, but neglected his business of government. Humayun’s title and power were based solely on his inherited great army. But even with his help, he did not initially succeed in consolidating the dynasty established by his father. Only after his return from the Persian exile, into which opponents had driven him, was he finally able to successfully take possession of northern India again.

But he couldn’t enjoy his victory for long. A year later he had a fatal accident. Obviously intoxicated, he got caught in his long robe and tumbled down the steps of a steep palace staircase. The chroniclers reported that the emperor had “drank his last glass from the hand of the angel of death.”

After eight years of building the mausoleum, his widow went on a pilgrimage – Hajj – to Mecca, was henceforth called Hajji Begum and spent the last years of her life as the celebrated head of the harem. She too found her eternal rest in her husband’s mausoleum.

Especially under Humayun’s son Akbar, the Indo-Islamic encounter reached its climax. Akbar tried to realize his vision of a united Greater India through comprehensive administrative, tax and social reforms, town planning, the promotion of art and religious freedoms, among other things. The prohibition on desecrating Hindu temples was very important.

Palaces, funerary monuments, mosques, fortresses and magnificent parks with gardens developed into true total works of art. The design models for octagonal buildings, domes, pointed arches and – instead of the forbidden pictorial representation of living beings – abstract geometric patterns, arabesques, calligraphic forms, flower reliefs and tile mosaics came from the Arab, Persian and Central Asian regions.

From the Hindus, who do not know of any burial sites because they burn their dead and put the ashes back into the natural cycle, the Mughals mainly took over the vitality of Indian sculpture and the versatile stonemasonry. The Islamic simplicity and rigor gradually gave way to Hindu abundance, and even images of people and animals crept almost imperceptibly into the art of painting.

Tomb of Emperor Humajun in Delhi