15 interesting facts about Humayun’s tomb & your reasons to visit it

Fact one is that this was not his original place of rest
Nor was this tomb the first structure in the green nest.
100s of graves in the garden have found their final room
These are just some facts about Humayun's tomb.

Read more of such interesting Humayun's tomb facts and find your own reason to visit this epic UNESCO World Heritage site in Delhi. 

When it comes to visiting the tourist attractions of Delhi, Humayun’s tomb does find its way to the top half of the list. This is no surprise given that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, I promise you there is more to this place than just one magnificent tomb of the 2nd Mughal emperor of India. Check out these amazing facts about the Humayun tomb and see for yourself why you need to visit it.

The main tomb of Humayun sitting right in the middle of the Char Bagh
The Tomb of Humayun in Delhi – a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Amazing facts about Humayun’s tomb

These interesting tales about Humayun include facts about his actual death and life, the architecture and construction of the tomb and what happened to it thereafter. Some of them are records of firsts for the Mughals in India.

1. This was not the original place of Humayun’s burial

This tomb of Humayun was not his original resting place - one of the facts about Humayun's tomb
This tomb of Humayun was not his original resting place – one of the facts about Humayun’s tomb

Humayun died accidentally in 1556. He was in his library when he heard the Azaan or the call for prayer. While heading for it, he slipped on the stairs and got a fatal blow to his head. He was buried in Purana Qila of Delhi for several years till his final resting place – the grand tomb was built.

2. The tomb of Humayun was built by his wife, not his son

Humayun’s tomb is one of the few monuments built by a lady for her man. Humayun’s first wife – Bega Begum (Hajji Begum) commissioned a grand mausoleum for her husband by the banks of Yamuna. In 1564, she left for Haj but not before she had chosen an architect and made arrangements for finances using her own money. When she returned in 1567, the construction was already underway. She then supervised it right to its end.

Akbar – her son and Humayun’s successor was just a teenager at this point in time.

Inside Rani Ki Vav in Patan, Gujarat
Inside Rani Ki Vav in Patan, Gujarat

Read about Rani ki  Vav – another monument made by a Queen for her King. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gujarat.

3. It took around 8 years and 1.5 million Rupees to construct Humayun’s tomb in Delhi

The first glimpse of Humayun's tomb through the West gate entrance
The first glimpse of Humayun’s tomb through the West gate entrance

The construction of the main tomb and its garden started in 1565 and was concluded by the end of 1572. It cost a princely sum of Rupees 1.5 million. Bega Begum financed the entire project with her own allowance.

4. A Persian architect was specially called to build this tomb

Bega Begum commissioned Mirak Mirza Ghiyas to plan and construct a tomb for Humayun. He was a resident of Herat who had built many structures there and in Bukhara. While he started the construction of Humayun’s tomb, he could not see the end of it. He died during the construction. The rest of the structure was completed by his son –  Sayyed Muhammad ibn Mirak Ghiyathuddin.

If you are looking at skip-the-line tickets along with a guide, you can book one here ~

5. Humayun’s tomb was the first and the largest of the Mughal tombs in India

This is the largest Mughal tomb in India - one of the key facts about Humayun's tomb
This is the largest Mughal tomb in India – one of the key facts about Humayun’s tomb

Though Humayun was the 2nd Mughal emperor of India, his tomb became the first of the grand Mughal mausoleums in India. His father – Babur has been buried in Kabul in Afghanistan. In fact, it is one of the first tomb gardens in India. The grand Mughal mausoleum is built on a 7 m platform It is 91 m in breadth and 47m in height – making it the largest Mughal tomb in India.

6. Humayun’s tomb is India’s first ever Persian styled double dome structure

Humayun's tomb is the first Mughal double dome tomb in India
Humayun’s tomb is the first Mughal double dome tomb in India

The double dome buildings are a typical feature of the Persian style of architecture. Humayun’s tomb was the first building in India to have been built with this feature. The double dome feature includes two layers, where the inner one forms the interior ceiling of the building and the outer one envelopes it. In this case, the outer dome façade is made with white marble. The gigantic tomb measures 42.5m. At its apex, it has a brass crescent finial – yet another feature of Persian architecture.

7. The main mausoleum stands in the middle of the Charbagh styled garden

One part of Char Bagh in the Humayun's tomb garden
One part of Char Bagh in the Humayun’s tomb garden

Charbagh or Chahar bagh gardens is yet another Persian influence that replicates the Gardens of Eden described in Quran. The green cover is interspersed with water channels that represent the four rivers of wine, honey, water and milk. The concept was first introduced by the first Mughal emperor – Babur at Rambagh in Agra, India. Humayun’s tomb has been erected right at the intersection of Char bagh garden.

8. The Char bagh of Humayun’s tomb once became a vegetable garden

This is one of the craziest Humayun’s tomb facts. Once the Mughals shifted to Agra, the garden around the tomb fell into disrepair and the people living around it began to grow vegetables in it. This continued till finally the British took it over and converted it into English-styled gardens. It was finally in the early 1900s that Lord Curzon got it back to its original Char Bagh theme.

9. Humayun’s tomb is called the Dormitory of Mughals.

One of the connecting chambers with the graves of the family members of Humayun
One of the connecting chambers with the graves of the family members of Humayun

Humayun tomb is not the only grave here. There are over 100 burials and graves in Humayun’s tomb garden. These include various family members of Humayun including his wife and grandson. The tombstones do not have any inscriptions left and this makes it hard to identify the bodies inside.

The main mausoleum has two floors with the tombs. The main chamber of Humayun’s tomb has eight connecting chambers -each with graves of his near and dear ones.

Nai ka Gumbad or Barber's tomb in the garden of tombs
Nai ka Gumbad or Barber’s tomb in the garden of tombs

There are also, some elaborate tomb structures located in the same garden like tomb of his barber (or so believed), Afsarwala tomb and Nila Gumbad. The presence of so many Humayun tomb burials is what has earned it the name of Dormitory of Mughals or the Necropolis of Mughals.

10. Humayun’s tomb is not the oldest structure in this garden of tombs

Isa khan tomb garden delhi
Isa Khan tomb near the entrance of Humayun tomb garden

I was actually quite surprised to discover this unique fact about Humayun’s tomb when I visited it. Turns out that Humayun was not the first to be buried in this complex of tombs. The oldest structure is the Isa Khan tomb which was built at least 20 years before the tomb of Humayun. It was made by a courtier – Isa Khan who served the Delhi Sultan Sher Shah Suri. It was in fact made by him while he was still living. You can see it right near the entrance of the garden of tombs.

11. Humayun’s garden was once a refugee camp

The Humayun’s tomb served as a camp for the refugees during the India-Pakistan partition in1947. Hundreds of people found temporary shelter here.

12. Originally the river Yamuna used to flow by Humayun’s tomb

The tomb of Humayun was originally designed to have two entrances. One side bordered the rest house or Serai and the fourth side was along the river Yamuna. However, the river has long altered its course and no longer flows anywhere close to the tomb.

13. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993

Nila Gumbad - located at the far end of the tomb garden of Humayun
Nila Gumbad – located at the far end of the tomb garden of Humayun

After the refugee camp, Humayun’s tomb was taken over by ASI (Archaelogical society of India). It was in severe need of repairs. It was only in 1993 that it was declared as a World heritage site and proper restoration of the place began. UNESCO recognized the entire mausoleum with its surrounding tombs as a place of historical value and termed the site as Humayun’s tomb garden.

14. There are more tombs located in Sunder Nursery across the tomb of Humayun

Sunderwala Burj in the Delhi heritage park across Humayun's tomb
Sunderwala Burj in the Delhi heritage park across Humayun’s tomb

The tombs inside the main complex and garden of Humayun’s tomb are not the only ones found in this area. The buffer zone of the UNESCO Heritage Site also, has a few more monuments including the Batashewala complex. This area has now been developed as a heritage park and goes by the name of Sunder Nursery.

15. Humayun’s tomb is believed to have been an inspiration for the famous Taj Mahal

One look at the structure and you will know that the mausoleum of Humayun was like a red and white prototype of the Taj Mahal which was built years later. The gigantic structure with its Char Bagh is what is believed to have inspired a more delicate and refined white marble mausoleum – one that is now recognized as a Wonder of the World.

I am sure that the last Humayun’s tomb fact was enough to pique your interest and a plan a visit here. Check out my guide to Humayun’s tomb for the key information on the monument, how to visit it, the timings, fees and more. And before you go, don’t forget to bookmark this post.  

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2 thoughts on “15 interesting facts about Humayun’s tomb & your reasons to visit it”

  1. Hii, I also love to visit these type of historical places like Humayun Tomb , Sarfdarjung Tomb . I appreciate this article of yours as you define all the possible facts about this beautiful example of historical architecture . You also explain some interesting facts about this Tomb . Love it .

    Reply

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