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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Humayun's Tomb

Designated as world heritage site in Delhi, Humayun's Tomb was built from 1605 to 1613 in Delhi. Humayun became the Mughal Emperor just after his father died in 1530. Humayun was overthrown and exiled for a period of fifteen years by Sher Shah but he managed to regain Delhi in 1555. Just six months after ascending the throne again, Humayun died from a fall in his library at Sher Mandai. It is said that the garden tomb of this great ruler at Delhi was designed by his widow Haji Begam and was inspired by the Islamic descriptions of the gardens in paradise. It is said that the tomb has been a source of inspiration to many later tombs built in India including Taj Mahal. The gardens have been laid out in a 'char bagh' pattern, i.e., divided into four squares and grid pattern by channels, pathways and causeways. It is said that Bahadur Shah Zafar and his three princes took refuge here in 1857.The mausoleum is situated centrally and the central octagonal chamber houses the royal cenotaph. Octagonal chambers flank the main hall at the diagonals and arched lobbies are closed with perforated screens. A 42.5 m high double dome made of marble crowns the structure and is surrounded by 'chhatris' or pillared kiosks. The building is made up of red sandstone and is ornamented using white and black marble, especially in the borders. It also houses the Haveli of Hakeem Ashanullah Khan, personal physician of the emperor Bahdur Shah Zafar, where the ruler took refuge at the time of mutiny. The mansion sprawls across 2,000-square-yards. It is said that when British took over the house, they strip it off the old chandeliers and lamps before returning it. It was one of the first mature examples of the garden-tomb in India. Besides Humayun, other notable Mughals that have been buried here include Haji Begum or Bega Begam, Hamida Banu Begam (Humayun's other wife) and Dara Shikoh (Shah Jahan's son).

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