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Humayun's Tomb India

Humayun's Tomb, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal. Exemplifying the formative stage of the Mughal structural style, Humayun's Tomb stands as a landmark in the development of Mughal architecture, and also represents the earliest extant specimen of the Mughal scheme of the garden tomb, with causeways and channels. It is a well-developed specimen of the double-domed elevation with kiosks on a grand scale. This building tradition culminated in the Taj Mahal, constructed a century later. Despite being the first standardized example of this style, Humayun's Tomb is an architectural achievement of the highest order.

Humayun's Tomb India
Continent: Asia
Country: India
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (II)(IV)
Date of Inscription: 2011

The Tomb of Humayun

The tomb of Humayun, second Mughal Emperor of India, was built by his widow, Biga Begum (Hajji Begum), in 1569-70, 14 years after his death, at a cost of 1.5 million rupees. The architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath. It was later used for the burial of various members of the ruling family and contains some 150 graves. It has aptly been described as the necropolis of the Mughal dynasty.

The tomb itself is in the centre of a large garden, laid out in char baah (four-fold) style, with pools joined by channels. The main entrance is on the south side, and there is another entrance on the west side. A pavilion and a bath are located in the centre of the eastern and northern walls respectively. The mausoleum itself is on a high, wide, terraced platform with small arched cells along the sides.

The Tomb of Humayun
The Humayun Tomb India

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In plan it is an irregular octagon with four long and four short sides. It is surmounted by a 42.5 m high double dome clad with marble flanked by decorative pillared kiosks (chhatris). The middle of each side is deeply recessed by large arched vaults with a series of smaller ones set into the face. The interior is a large octagonal chamber with vaulted roof compartments interconnected by galleries or corridors. This octagonal plan is repeated on the second storey. The structure is of dressed stone clad in red sandstone with white and black in laid marble borders. Within the enceinte to the south-east of Humayun's Tomb there is a fine square tomb of 1590-91, known as the Barber's Tomb.

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The tomb and its surrounding structures are substantially in their original state, and interventions in the present century have been minimal and of high quality.

The importance of Humayun's Tomb in the evolution of Mughal architecture is great. It is the first of a long series of dynastic tombs and innovative in a number of ways, notably by virtue of the fact that it introduced the garden tomb to the subcontinent. Humayun had travelled widely in the Islamic world, notably in Persia and central Asia, and brought back with him ideas that were applied by the architect of his tomb, under the direction of his widow, in this tomb. The tomb has been respected throughout its history and so has retained its original form and purpose intact. Subsequent interventions have been aimed at preserving this character.

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