On a chilly winter morning, students of The Indian School went for a heritage walk to Humayun’s Tomb along with our history teacher, Charu Bhatnagar. The excursion was organised by The Indian Express. Throughout the walk, we were guided by Vipin Pundeer, who gave us a brief description of the tomb. On reaching the site, we first saw Sunder Burj Tomb and nursery, which was built in the 16th century. We were told that there are three monuments in Delhi which are regarded as world heritage sites — Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb. Then we proceeded towards Isa Khan’s Tomb, which is approached through an arched gateway. Then we went to Humayun’s Tomb, the magnificent structure built with red sandstone and white marble. It was designed by Mirak Mirza, a Persian architect. Overall, the experience was enriching and educative. -Tanya Duggal, XI-D
In the words of Vladimir Putin, “The centuries-old history and culture of India, majestic architectural monuments and museums of Delhi, Agra and Mumbai have a unique attractive force.” True, indeed. Our heritage monuments attract the young and the old alike. They attract people from all over the world. Organised by The Indian Express, we recently went on a guided tour of the Humayun’s Tomb complex. It was a fun-filled and educative tour. Besides the Humayun’s Tomb, we also visited other important monuments within the complex. We learned about the monuments as well as archaeology and its scope as a promising profession in India.
Humayun’s Tomb was commissioned in 1565 by Bega Begum, widow of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun, to have his beloved husband laid to rest in one of the first garden tombs built in India. It was designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a famous Persian architect. The 47 metre-high double dome of the tomb is majestic and visible from afar. It was built using red sandstone and white marble. It is located in Nizamuddin, close to the citadel of Dinpanah that Humayun founded in 1533, also known as the Purana Qila (Old Fort). It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Since then it has undergone extensive restoration work, which was completed some time back.
Leading up to the tomb of Humayun, several smaller monuments dot the pathway from the main entrance in the west. Among these are Bu Halima’s gate, Arab ki Sarai and the very imposing tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in the court of Sher Shah Suri. Its year of construction, 1547, precedes that of Humayun’s tomb by about two decades.
As Vincent Fox rightly said, “Monuments and archaeological pieces serve as testimonies of man’s greatness and establish a dialogue between civilisations showing the extent to which human beings are linked.” Humayun’s Tomb is one such example, a monument that acts as a means of communication between two civilisations and eras. -Yash Sharma, XI-D
Recently, my friends and I got an opportunity to go on a heritage walk at Humayun’s Tomb. The tomb is a mausoleum of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun, and was built in 1572 by his widow, Bega Begum, who is also known as Haji Begum. The architect of the monument was Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a Persian architect who was specially brought from northwest Afghanistan. He incidentally died before he could complete the monument, which was completed by his son. Humayun’s Tomb is one of the best historical places in India. It was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list in 1993. We saw various architectural styles and learnt many interesting facts about the tomb. Overall, it was a memorable walk. For a person like me, who is an admirer of architectural buildings and beautiful, well-maintained gardens, it was a great experience. Millions of people visit Humayun’s Tomb every year. If you have not visited the tomb yet, then do visit it. -Parthvi Munjal, XI-D
When I had earlier gone to Humayun’s Tomb, I was too young to understand the grandeur of the excursion. But this time, the excitement and enthusiasm was different. The trip was organised by The Indian Express. Mughal architecture is famous for domes, quiblas, kangooras, arches, jaali pattern and especially innovation of charbagh. Overall, it was a fun and enriching experience. -Varun Singh, XI-D
On a chilly winter morning, students of Class XI accompanied by our history teacher, Charu Bhatnagar, went on a heritage walk to Humayun’s Tomb. The walk was organised by The Indian Express. We began with Isa Khan’s Tomb, which was built a few decades before Humayun’s Tomb. It is a fine example of Mughal architecture made of sandstone and glazed tiles. Glazed tiles have also been used in the chhatris that adorn the terrace of the tomb. After that, we visited the mosque, soaked in the architecture and saw how it was being repainted.
Finally, we reached the main attraction of our walk, that is the Humayun’s Tomb. The tomb is set in a charbagh followed by a garden. The students went inside to see the tombs of Humayun, his wife and the royal family. Some unique features of Mughal architecture were observed like the chhatris, kangooras, domes, arches, jaali pattern etc. With this, we came to the end of our heritage walk. It was a learning experience for the students. As students and citizens of Delhi, we must visit these places and preserve them for the future. -Isha Bansal, XI-D
Humayun’s Tomb is one of the earliest extant examples of the garden tomb characteristic of the Mughal-era architecture. In 1993, it was declared a UNESCO site. The structure is mainly built in red sandstone. The marble is largely used in the borders. The dome is made of white marble. To relieve the monotony, black and white marbles have been used. As we enter, the tomb proper stands in the centre of a square garden, divided into four main parterres by causeways (charbagh), in the centre of which ran shallow water channels. The high rubble-built enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways on the west and south. A baradari (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall. When we enter inside the tomb, there is a grave right in the centre of this cell-complex, which is reached by a passage on the south. The octagonal central chamber contains the cenotaph and the diagonal sides lead to corner chambers which house the graves of other members of the royal family. An intricate web of corridors and galleries connects them all. Its elevations, decorated by marble borders and panels, is dominated by three arched alcoves, the central one being the highest. This plan is repeated on the second storey too. The roof, surmounted by a double dome (42.5m) of marble, has pillared kiosks (chhatris) placed around it. We really admired the ancient architecture and were privileged to know the various unknown facts about this tomb. It was indeed an enriching experience. -Anisha Khurana, XI-D
History classes are mostly associated with closed classrooms and long, heavy books. But recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of The Indian Express’ heritage walk to Humayun’s Tomb, an old architectural marvel situated at Nizamuddin. To proclaim their grandeur to the masses decades after they were gone, the Mughal emperors had built exquisite tombs for themselves. Humayun’s son, Akbar, had left no stone unturned to make this monument stand out from the rest and had imported red sandstone to make it strikingly attention grabbing. However, it was heartbreaking to see some of the monuments in the same complex being ‘repaired’ in a manner which destroyed the original glory of the structure. The intermingling of Mughal and Indian architecture gave the monument a unique charm that hypnotised the people who came there. While Mughal architecture was marked by domes, jaalis and star-shaped patterns, the Indian architectural marks included chhatris and chhajas. Intricately carved ayyats were predominant at the tomb of Isa Khan, an octogonal tomb commanding respect and admiration. The heritage walk made me realise our rich culture and history and the need to preserve it. -Pranati Haldia, XI-D
Kaun jaye Zauq par Dilli ki galiyan chhod kar…,” wrote Ibrahim Zauq, the court poet of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Within the cradling and jostling bylanes of Delhi are embedded the relics of bygone era and Humayun’s Tomb is one such reminiscent of the long and chequered history of India, which was to be an inspiration for subsequent Mughal buildings. Students from The Indian School experienced the tranquil and awe-inspiring sight of Humayun’s Tomb, a world heritage site, though a heritage walk organised by The Indian Express.
Persian architect Mirza Ghiyas was commissioned by Akbar to built the tomb under the supervision of Haji Begum, one of Humayun’s wife. The tomb’s prime location lays in its close proximity to Nizamuddin Dargah, the Yamuna and straight enroute to Agra, Akbar’s capital city. Humayun’s Tomb, set within a charbagh paradise garden, stands on a high platform like the Taj Mahal and has a bulbous dome where numerous members of the Mughal dynasty were buried, including Dara Shikoh. The complex also has some other notable buildings like Isa Khan’s Tomb, Arab Sarai, a baoli, Bu Halima Garden and so on. Students were introduced by Vipin Pundeer not only about the various Indo-Islamic features like chattris, chajjas, jalis, inverted lotus, arches, dome kangoor and mihrab but also about the efforts by UNESCO, ASI, Aga Khan Foundation and INTACH about the preservation of our heritage. -Charu Bhatnagar, History teacher
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