Humayun’s Tomb

Delhi, India | C.1569

Photo Credit: Dirk Schmurkov

A monument to love, loss, and above all, wealth, Humayun’s Tomb is not only the legacy of Mughal Emperor Humayun, but of his first wife, Empress Bega Begum. The structure is an architectural wonder, and was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and the first to use red sandstone at such a scale.

The Empress was so grieved over her husband’s death that she dedicated her life to constructing a memorial to him that would be the most magnificent mausoleum in the Empire. On her orders, construction began in 1565 and lasted seven years. The project cost a total of 1.5 million rupees, paid entirely by the Empress.

Several smaller monuments dot the pathway leading up to the main tomb, including one that predates it by 20 years. The older monument is the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble of the Suri dynasty who fought against the Mughals, constructed in 1547.

Humayun’s tomb and surrounding gardens set a grand precedent for subsequent structures. The monument is seen as a clear departure from the fairly modest mausoleum of Humayun’s father, the first Mughal Emperor, Babur. However, Babur started the tradition of being buried in a paradise garden.

The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work to maintain its integrity.

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