KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
The Lonely Planet lists the World Heritage Humayun’s Tomb as one of the must-see sights in Delhi. I have been wanting to see it for some time and always mentioned this to Ajay, Anil’s younger brother when we were in town. I don’t think he thought it was of much significance, so he usually opted to show us other parts of the city. Anil teased him one day and told him that if he didn’t take us to see the tomb before we left this year, Vicki would probably have it renamed ‘Ajay’s Tomb’. At last we made a plan to visit the site at sunset after spending the afternoon touring the National Museum.
The National Museum is really worth seeing, unlike many old dusty museums in other parts of India. I was disappointed that the jewellery exhibit was closed for renovations but there was still more than enough to boggle the imagination. We headed to Humayun’s Tomb as the sun was sinking low – I knew the light would be great for taking pictures but I was unprepared for the beauty of this ancient Mughal monument.
As we entered the main entrance gate, I was pleased to see there were few other visitors on this weekday evening. I didn’t realize that there was another monument on the site and we stopped to take a closer look at the tomb of Isa Khan, built during his lifetime, in 1547 AD, only twenty years before Humayun’s tomb. The enclosure includes both the tomb and a mosque surrounded by a crenulated wall. I was surprised to learn that until the 20th century, a village existed within the walls.
After leaving the Isa Khan tomb, we passed through a 16m high gate decorated with ornamental six-sided stars that the Mughals used to represent the cosmos. It was then that the breath-taking Humayun’s mausoleum came into view. Even Ajay was taken with its beauty. It was built by Humayun’s grieving widow after his death and is the first example of the influence of Persian architecture on an Indian structure. It is also the first to use red sandstone and white marble in such large quantities. It stands over 46m high and contains over 100 graves. It has been referred to as ‘The Dormitory of The Mughals’.