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Location: Nizamuddin East, Delhi Map

Buried: Mughal emperor Humayun

Constructed: 1562 AD by his wife Hamida Banu Begum

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb






Humayun Tomb is a medieval burial structure designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in Nizamuddin East, Delhi in India. It was commissioned by Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 AD for a burial of Mughal Emperor Humayun. It was erected under supervision of an architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyath who designed it.




The mausoleum was originally close to the Yamuna River, but changed its course in later times. The mausoleum is now in the Nizamuddin-Ost district, at the intersection of Lodi Road and Mathura Road. At the time of the slave dynasty, the area belonged to the KiloKheri fortress, the capital of Sultan Kequbad, son of Nasiruddin (1268–1287). In addition to Humayun's main tomb, the site also includes other buildings and tombs of Mughal architecture - including the barber's tomb.

Construction began in 1562 (according to other sources, 1564) on the instructions of Haji Begum (also Hamida Banu Begum), Humayun's widow and mother of Akbar I (1542–1605). The construction period lasted eight years. The owner kept a close eye on the work and even opened her camp on site. The architects of the building are said to have been Sayyed Muhammad ibn Mirak Ghiyathuddin and his father Mirak Ghiyathuddin, who came from Herat in Afghanistan.

The site later served as a refuge for India's last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II (1775-1862), whom the British captured in 1857.

In contrast to the later mausoleums of the Mughal era with their brick core, the Humayun mausoleum consists of only roughly hewn rubble stones, which were rarely found along the muddy-sandy river banks of the Yamuna and were therefore taken from demolition buildings or from a distance had to be brought in. After completion of the core structure, the walls were clad with slabs of differently colored sandstone or - for reasons of cost in later or less important buildings or components - simply plastered and painted in color. Marble only occurs in the cladding of the main dome and in the white braided ribbon inlay that moves around the entire main building.

The projecting side wings distinguish the very representative gate construction of the Humayun mausoleum from all other gate structures of the Mughal tombs in India. The side - stacked niches, the large central arch (iwan) and the small, pavilions (chhatris), on the other hand, are elements that will also be found on later gate buildings. The entire structure is clad with slabs of red and yellowish-beige sandstone from Rajasthan.

The building decorations are limited to two six-pointed stars with plastically protruding rosettes in the gussets of the archway and to narrow ribbons - enclosing the arch gussets - with incrustations of white marble.

grave monument
The central grave structure with high Ivan arches stands on an approximately 7 m high platform - optically loosened up by a multitude of arcades with surrounding braided bands - above the ax cross. The outer dome sitting on a drum, bulged and surrounded by small chhatris was rather unusual at the time in the Persian homeland of the architect, but can be found in earlier and simultaneous buildings in Central Asia (e.g. Gur Emir mausoleum in Samarqand). A ball bar (jamur) raises the dome in the center. The central main building is surrounded by four smaller annex buildings - sloping at the corners and also provided with pavilions. The visible structure consists of red and beige sandstone from Rajasthan; only the cladding of the main dome and some wall applications are made of white marble. The domes of the smaller side chhatris are covered with gray slate, a material that can also be found in the decor of the arch gussets of the entrance portals. White, unreliefed marble slabs combined into large decorative fields play an important role in the overall picture.

inside rooms
The octagonal central room, which opens over two floors, is bathed in diffused light through the Jali windows. It only houses the cenotaph of Humayun, which is set on a small, but with complex geometric stone incrustations (stars and octagons) made of white and black marble (the actual burial place of the ruler is below the ground level). The room octagon with galleries and Jali windows is transferred to the domed circle via trumpets with simple Muqarnas decor; the flat inner dome itself - like many Indian grave structures - is left completely without decor.


The usual stucco work with floral murals or even stone inlays used in the later Mughal tombs (Akbar mausoleum, Itimad-ud-Daula mausoleum, Taj Mahal, Bibi-Ka-Maqbara) are completely absent from the Humayun grave monument - apart from the small cenotaph platform. Only the large wall niches or galleries with their Jali windows and the different colors of the sandstone facings provide architectural or visual loosening.

In the two-story annex rooms on the side there are more than 150 tombs of family members and distant descendants of the ruler. Thus, the Humayun Mausoleum - more than the later buildings of the Mughal period - can be called the burial place of the dynasty.

The mausoleum rises in the middle of a geometrically designed park in Char-Bagh style, which is provided by narrow water channels and thus refers to the paradise garden described in the Koran - the first of its kind in India. As with later tombs from the Mughal era, the paths to the central tomb building, which are covered with stone slabs, are higher than the ground level of the park, which offers great advantages, especially during the monsoon season, and also prevents animals; at the same time, however, to maintain the hierarchy, they are lower than the lower platform of the grave building.

The first Mughal tomb of India - still built without framing minarets - is one of the most magnificent historical buildings in Delhi and on the entire subcontinent due to its size and its elegant architecture in Persian style. Its imposing architecture leaves the comparatively compact tombs of the Lodi dynasty far behind and points ahead to the Akbar mausoleum in Sikandra and the Taj Mahal in Agra.



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