Humayun’s Tomb – The emperor’s timewarp


History has it that Humayun’s death was an accident. However, he toppled down the steps of the library not to lie in an ordinary grave at Purana Qila. On the contrary, he was destined to repose in a marvel of red sandstones and gleaming marbles that instantly immortalized the emperor and won him undying fame. Jostled among the pages of historical volumes, the name of Humayun’s Tomb recur time and again, bespoke of Mughal grandeur and their reeking opulence.

Admittedly, Humayun’s reign was not one without turbulence. It had been sporadic and irregular with a gap of seven years during which Sher Shah Suri had ousted him to establish his own Suri Dynasty. Although previously lax as an administrator, Humayun lost his empire but his untrammelled resilience made him recover what had been deceitfully wrung from his hands earlier. In 1555, he came back in power again. However, this time there was no happy end to the emperor’s tribulations. A year later, in 1556 death seized the busy man who, loaded with an armful of books, was descending down the steps of his library and conceived fatal injuries after banging his head against a jagged stone edge.

Even after his chest was silenced without a heartbeat, it was Humayun’s Tomb that made the emperor deathless. Since 1565, the mausoleum stands trumpeting the glory of the Great Mughals. Located in East Nizamuddin, the aura of the tomb is so overarching that is impossible for any passerby to not stop and stare at the timeless beauty. In addition to Qutub Minar and Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1993. It also successfully bags a sizable share of profit for India’s tourist economy by luring tourists from all over the world. They are charged a whopping sum of 500 rupees just to catch a glimpse of the mausoleum in which Bega Beghum had invested her millions. Undoubtedly, the wife wanted to make the final resting place of her husband worth his while.

Leaves every history student and historian in awe of it, Humayun’s Tomb is a tangible testimony of the rich culture of India that had reached its ultimate brilliance in the Mughal Era. It is surmised that the chief queen had entrusted the construction of the tomb in the astute hands of Mirak Mirza Ghiyaz. The architect bestowed a foreign touch to his designs by choosing to lay the emperor in a Garden Tomb, a concept that was patently borrowed from Persia.

Although made chiefly in the memory of Humayun, the structure also houses his wife, Dara Shikoh his great-great-grandson and a string of later Mughals. It had also sheltered the last Mughal, Bahadur Shah Zafar and his three sons during the Revolt of 1857 before he was shipped off to Rangoon. Humayun’s Tomb was indisputably the first phenomenon that showcased the exemplary Mughal taste and expertise in architecture to the world. It was an amalgamation of Persian and Indian style meeting to produce a sight much difficult to supersede what with water channels and fountains dotting the environ of the monument.

Therefore, it won’t be exaggerated to claim that Akbar took whole fifty years to imprint his name in the pages of history while his father only had to lie down in his tomb to effortlessly steal the limelight.