Humayun’s Tomb | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Humayun’s Tomb

Delhi, India

Sarah Roller

03 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Amit Kg / Shutterstock.

About Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is the garden tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayan. It is located in Nizamuddin East, Delhi, India.

History of Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor, who ruled over swathes of modern day India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Following his death in 1556, his widow and chief consort, the Persian born Empress Bega Begum (also often known as Haji Begum), commissioned a magnificent tomb for her late husband.

It cost 1.5 million rupees, and took seven years to build, designed by the Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas. The majority of the tomb is red sandstone, inlaid with white marble: Islamic geometric designs are predominant throughout the architecture.

The tomb is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal (which was built 60 years later) and was the first garden tomb in India at the time. The style of garden, known as a charbagh, was a typical Persian garden, the likes of which had not been seen in this part of the world before.

However, by this point in time, Mughal power and influence was already in the process of relocating to Agra (which had been the capital since 1556) rather than staying in Delhi, and the completed tomb did not generate the immense stir of the Taj Mahal. The gardens in particular fell into disrepair during the 17th century, and were used to grow vegetables in.

The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, took refuge in the tomb complex prior to his capture by the British following the 1857 rebellion. Once the British arrived in Delhi, they tore up the Persian garden design, replacing it with something much more English in style. This was reversed in the early 20th century under the orders of Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy.

During the Partition of India in 1947, the tomb complex was used as a refugee camp for Muslims fleeing to Pakistan. These remained operational for five years, and caused considerably damage to the gardens and structure of the buildings.

In 1993, Humayun’s Tomb was declared a World Heritage Site and a major restoration project was begun to bring the gardens, fountains and buildings back to their former glory.

Humayun’s Tomb today

Humayun’s Tomb remains something of a peaceful oasis amongst the chaos and pollution of Delhi: look out for the perfect symmetry which makes it look as though it’s almost floating.

The complex itself is relatively large, and contains the tombs and mausoleums of several of Humayun’s family members and other Mughal rulers which are peeking into.

Go at dawn or dusk to capture the gorgeous light on the sandstone – the whole building seems to glow. Dressing conservatively is appreciated.

Getting to Humayun’s Tomb

The tomb complex is approximately 2km from Nizamuddin Railway Station and the JLN Stadium station on the Violet Line of Delhi Metro. Whilst it is possible to walk, getting a tuk tuk is advisable! Otherwise, it’s about a 7km trip from the main tourist district of Chadni Chowk. Taxis, Ubers and tuk tuks are convenient means of transport.

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Delhi Historic Sites

With a history dating back to the 10th century, and the 3rd largest city in the world today, Delhi remains a popular starting or finishing point for travellers exploring Northern India. Beyond the chaos and the smog, Delhi is crammed with rich and varied historic sites which help tell the story of this remarkable city.