With Covid and lockdown loosening their grip over the capital city, life seems to be kicking in again at Humayun tomb in Nizamuddin East, New Delhi. One of the most beautiful spots in Delhi, the site is a great draw among tourists. The spectacular garden mausoleum, a symbol of Mughal architectural grandeur, was built by Persian and Indian craftsmen under the patronage of Humayun’s son, the emperor Akbar.
Constructed 452 years ago, this was the first garden-tomb complex to be built on the Indian subcontinent that showcased the might of the Mughal dynasty. The materials that went into its construction were red sandstone and cement plaster, widely used during the Mughal era.
A few years ago, the mausoleum was given a facelift and thorough maintenance through the joint effort of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Archeological Survey of India, a feat which took six years to complete. The renovation involved removal of the entire layer of cement plaster on the structure. As a result, stupendous quantities of cement running into several lakh kilos of cement were removed from the structure’s star attractions, the two domes and the 68 small rooms built below. The cement plastering was replaced by a mix of lime mortar. The rooftops were polished with sandstone powder.
As the edifice was built by Persian architects with their native style of ceramic tile laying, something relatively alien to Indian architectural designs, that part of the structure’s polishing up was completed by bringing in craftsmen from Uzbekistan.
The Humayun Tomb which lies adjacent to the revered Nizamuddin Dargah, is a holy and much-visited site for those tourists and visitors who pour into India from abroad.
Humayun’s garden tomb is also called the “dormitory of the Mughals” as more than 150 members of Mughal families find their resting place in the cells within the structure. Also buried within the tomb is Humayun’s first wife and chief consort Bega Begum. Other 16th century garden tombs built within the complex include Nila Gumbud, Isa Khan, Bu Halima, Afsarwala, Barber’s tomb and the Arab Serai, where the craftsmen engaged in constructing Humayun’s tomb were housed.