Predating the Taj Mahal by 60 years, and echoing the sentiment behind its creation where a grieving husband built a mausoleum in the memory of his beloved wife, the Humayun’s Tomb was the result of a wife’s love for her deceased husband. Incorporating Persian and Mughal architectural elements, this one-of-a-kind garden tomb was built mid-16th century in the memory of Mughal Emperor Humayun by his Persian-born first wife, Haji Begum. The interspersing of red sandstone and white marble in its arched facades is the striking feature of this mausoleum that from a distance seems to hover mid air. Little wonder, the grand scale of the structure, the Islamic geometry, restrained decoration, and the symmetrical gardens are believed to be an inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Located in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin East neighbourhood, Haji Begum not only chose the Persian architects who built the monument, but also the location. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Humayun’s Tomb lies on the banks of the Yamuna, in proximity to the dargah of popular Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya. The first ever structure to use red sandstone on such a majestic scale, Haji Begum it is believed after the Emperor’s death spent her remaining years envisioning and building this iconic building. The construction of the Humayun’s Tomb began nine years after the Emperor’s death in 1565 and was completed by 1572 AD, for which Haji Begum roped in Mirak Mirza Ghiyas from Herat in Afghanistan to give shape to the exquisite designs she had in mind for her husband’s mausoleum. However, the final structure was completed by Ghiyas’ son, Sayyed Muhammad ibn Mirak Ghiyathuddin after his sudden demise. The sheer scale of the Humayun’s tomb is considered a departure from his father, first Mughal Emperor Babur’s modest mausoleum in Kabul. Although, it was with Babur that the trend of garden mausoleum or the Persian Charbagh took root, and got enhanced with every passing generation.
Central Asian and Persian elements became more conspicuous in the Islamic style of architecture by the late 12th century during the regime of the Delhi Sultanate. It all began with the construction of the Qutub Minar in 1192 AD by Qutab-ud-din Aibak of the Slave Dynasty. The Humayun’s Tomb can be entered through two double-storeyed gateways, 16 metre-high, to the south and west adorned with rooms and a courtyard on the upper floors. And unlike the Taj, there is no mosque on the site of the Humayun’s Tomb, instead a unique feature of this structure is the tomb of Humayun’s favourite barber. Popularly referred to as Nai ka Gumbad, the tomb is a fine specimen in red sandstone and white marble with extensive jaali work, door frames and embellished eaves.
The tomb of Emperor Humayun at 47 metres is built in Persian style, and is also the first Indian structure to incorporate the Persian double dome that is 42.5 metres high where the outer structure supports the marble exterior and the inner one leads into the cavernous interiors. Enter the structure through the south entrance and you will immediately notice the heavy jaali and stone lattice work. And just beneath this white dome lies an octagonal burial chamber with a single cenotaph, that of Mughal Emperor Humayun. Suffice it to say that this is not the real burial chamber, for the real one is stowed away in the crest of the earth right under the upper cenotaph. While this part can be approached through a passage from the outside of the main building, it remains closed to public viewing.
In the last days of the Mughal rule and during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar along with three other princes took refuge here. He was eventually captured by Captain Hodson and sent to exile in Rangoon.
The Persian-style garden which translates into four gardens is basically a square or a rectangular layout which is strictly geometrical and is divided into four walkways and dissected twice by a water body. Rubble walls on three sides enclose the Charbagh, and on fourth side lay the Yamuna, which has since changed its course away from the structure.
Tomb and mosque of Isla Khan: On entering from the west, you will see several monuments on either side on the pathway that goes up to the main tomb. The most significant one of the lot is the tomb complex of an Afghan noble, Isa Khan Niyazi from Sher Shah Suri’s court. This remarkable octagonal tomb is flanked by an octagonal garden that predates the main Humayun’s Tomb by 20 years. Built during the reign of Sher Shah Suri’s son, Islam Shah Suri, the complex houses the tombs of all members of Isa Khan’s family. This tomb has a mosque adjacent to it in red sandstone. Experts believe some architectural details from this tomb were adapted in the Mughal Emperor’s, though on a larger scale.
Nila Gumbad: Lying just outside the complex boundary is the Nila Gumbad, called so for its bright blue-glazed tiles. This was built by the son of a courier in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court for a favourite servant of his, Miyan Fahim. The tomb is remarkable in its architecture with an octagonal exterior, and interestingly, a square interior whose walls are adorned with painted plaster.
Chillah Nizamuddin Auliya: A paradigm of Tughlaq period architecture, this structure to the northeast end of the main mausoleum is considered the residence of Delhi’s patron saint, Nizamuddin Auliya.
Barber’s Tomb: Enclosed by the Charbagh, Nai ka Gumbad or Barber’s Tomb lies to the southeast end. Dating back to 1590-91 CE, this tomb belongs to the royal barber in Humayun’s court. The fact that the barber in question found favour with the Mughal Emperor is corroborated by the presence of his tomb in close proximity to the main mausoleum. Besides, Nai ka Gumbad is the only other structure within the main tomb complex.
Delhi is an interesting city to trace back the Mughal history and study its vestiges. On a given day, you can club a visit to the Humayun’s Tomb with Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, Safdarjung Tomb, Chandni Chowk, Fatehpuri Masjid and explore the tenets of Mughal glory in the capital.
Humayun’s Tomb visiting hours are between sunrise and sunset.
Mathura Road, Opposite Nizamuddin Dargah, New Delhi - 110013
Humayun’s Tomb is open on all days of the week.
Humayun’s Tomb is part of a tony South Delhi neighbourhood with great metro rail and bus connectivity. You can easily find your way here from your hotel in Delhi.
Nearest metro station to Humayun’s Tomb: JLN Stadium on the Purple Line is the closest metro station to the Humayun’s Tomb, being only 2 kilometres away. You can either hail an auto-rickshaw or walk it on a fair weather day. The next nearest is the Jorbagh metro station on the Yellow Line, which is about 5 kilometres from Humayun’s Tomb. Hail a radio taxi or an auto-rickshaw, and you will be there in a neat 15 minutes.
Nearest Bus Stand to Humayun’s Tomb: Buses operated by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) ply through the city with stops at strategic points. For your ride to Humayun’s Tomb, you can either take bus number 447 (Bhalswa JJ Colony - Nehru Place Terminal), or bus no 966B (Nizamuddin Railway Station - Sultanpuri Terminal). Both these buses stop at Delhi Public School, which is a quick 5-minute walk to the Humayun’s Tomb. Your next closest alternatives are bus no. 19 (E Block Jahangirpuri - Nizamuddin Railway Station), ML-77 (New Delhi Metro Station - Chittaranjan Park), bus no 166 (BH Block Shalimar Bagh - Nizamuddin Railway Station), bus no 181 (Nizamuddin Railway Station - Jahangirpuri E Block). All these buses stop at the Nizamuddin Police Station which is about 900 metres from Humayun’s Tomb.
Nearest Railway Station to Humayun’s Tomb: Nizamuddin Railway Station at about 2.2 kilometres is the closest railway station to the Humayun’s Tomb. There are ample auto-rickshaws available from the station to take you to the monument. Some important trains arriving into Hazrat Nizamuddin station from across India include, Secunderabad Hazrat Nizamuddin Duronto Express (12285) that departs from Secunderabad at 1:10 pm and arrives into Nizamuddin at 10:35 am. Punjab Mail (12137) departs from Chatrapati Sahu Maharaj Terminal Kolhapur at 07:35 pm and stops at Hazrat Nizamuddin at 08:51 pm the next day. DLI AGC Passenger train (51902) starts from Old Delhi at 07:00 am and enters Hazrat Nizamuddin at 07:36 am. Depending on the city you are coming from, you will find numerous trains with halts in Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Nearest Airport to Humayun’s Tomb: The Indira Gandhi International Airport is the airport that serves Delhi with both domestic and international operations. It is about 25 kilometres from Humayun’s Tomb. A cab from the airport will bring you to the monument in about 50 minutes. From the UK there are direct flights by British Airways, Air India, Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic to New Delhi. Outside of this some popular airlines flying into India’s capital city include Emirates, Oman Air, Qantas, Lufthansa, China Eastern, Finnair, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Air France, Sri Lankan Airlines, Air Canada among others. Among domestic carriers, a budget traveller’s popular recall comprises IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, Vistara, Air India, and GoAir.
Humayun’s Tomb entry ticket for Indian travellers is INR 35. For visitors from BIMSTEC and SAARC nations, the Humayun’s Tomb entry ticket price stays the same at INR 35 each. Howver, if you are an international visitor, the Humayun’s Tomb ticket price is INR 550. The entry is free for children under the age of 15.
In order to book a Humayun’s Tomb online ticket, you can simply open Yatra’s Monuments of India section, and search the monument of your choice, add it to your cart, enter your card details and proceed to make the payment. Subsequently, you will get your confirmed Humayun’s Tomb ticket.
The winter months beginning late November going up to early March is the most favourable to explore the city, and by virtue of it, the Humayun’s Tomb. It is the season when eating out takes a life of its own with the city gearing up with food festivals, the open-air stalls mushrooming across prominent food venues such as the Old Delhi/Jama Masjid area. And if you still have a dint of enthusiasm left, a spot of shopping at the open-air Santushti Shopping Complex in Chanakyapuri, or the Dilli Haat in INA won’t hurt at all.
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Monsoon : August To September
Summer : Average Maximum Temperature: 32°C
Winter : Average Minimum temperature: 12 to 13°C
Recommended Season to Visit : November to March
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