The late Sunday afternoon was levying an uneasy burden on me – to make a choice: Choose what to do for the rest of the day that also has the approval of the “Home Minister”. After an intense two-hour long Volley Ball game, my knees and ankles were aching so badly that given a choice I could continue lying on the bed and probably do a round 2 of the mid-afternoon nap! And continue from where I left of that adventure trail dream.
But bang, that option got shot down by the Home Ministry and now I have to choose a place to take my folks for an evening of sightseeing and fun. Now, that’s what I was describing earlier as an uneasy burden, which place to choose for entertaining both (incl. my 11 year old daughter who hates anything that’s historic but whenever anyone asks what she wants to become as a grown-up, the immediate reply is “Archaeologist”).
Luck prevailed as we finally decided to visit Humayun’s tomb instead, which is something I feel lucky totally from a hindsight perspective.
We set out from our Gurgaon home and mingled with the NH8 Jaipur Highway to Delhi for a 33 KM drive & the ultimate wealth of experience; that will never fade away from our memory in years to come.
On reaching the place, we found the open car park facility that appeared well-managed (despite one single opening for entering & exiting vehicles and that too on a Sunday). I parked my car comfortably in a vacant spot in less than 3 minutes!
Humayun’s Tomb was referred to us as a “must visit” by many of our vintage Delhi-settled-friends (we were just five months old in North India when I write this blog post) and hence I wasn’t so enthralled with the anticipation factor, as we already knew that we are visiting a popular tourist attraction. As a result, our immediate motto was to usher through the ticket gate and beat the crowd that was swelling up, to purchase the entry tickets!
An irregular pathway with two very narrow bends led us to the grand entrance to the 30-acre Garden Tomb!:
– Center of which lies the 1569 – 1572 CE built monument, the final resting place of the 2nd Mughal Emperor, supposedly built nine years posthumously by his grieving wife, Hamida Banu Begam
– First of its kind Mughal/Persian style architecture in India
– With extensive use of Red Sandstone & White Marble stones
– Holding close to 100 graves of members of the Mughal Royal Family – Including the Tomb of Babar, Isa Khan, Nila Guband, etc., Not just that but also the frequent lodging place for Arab Mullahs – Arab Sarai (Sarai means INN in Arab)
– Forerunner to The Taj Mahal – While Taj Mahal is the Zenith of Mughal architecture, Humayun’s Tomb marks the Beginning of this whole style!
– A UNESCO World Heritage Site
– A complex geometrical Garden with water channels that methodically culminates into mini ponds – though water levels had been dried out at the time of my visit
While all facts and pictures shown above undoubtedly stand for the historical significance of the final resting place of the 2nd Mughal Emperor – Emperor Humayun, the Tomb stands out there to share an entirely different story, at least as it appears to me personally.
The Present Continuous:
Like any other ancient monument, The Humayun’s Tomb too was in degenerating condition: in structural, physical & aesthetical aspects, with the passage of time. This was until a very unlikely partnership that was formed among The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust & The Archeological Survey of India, to restore & renew this splendor.
It took about six years, 2,00,000 work days, several craftsmen working on it and millions of money, to restore the structure with the help of modern technological advancements (state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning machines) + craftsmanship reflecting the ancient (& long lost) Mughal era + thoughtfulness (even the tree line-up on both sides of the Courtyard were chosen basis Mughal era Flora setting!).
The Finial – The 18ft Ornamental Gold Plated Ensemble was restored back to its shining original self, again thanks to the partnership afore-mentioned.
This is the story the Tomb conveys to the Modern World, which is about aspiring Urban Renewal Goals, as what can be achieved by a public/private partnership to bring back the relevance of many such lost glories that we fail to notice in our daily commute to work!
We have all of them, the rich heritage (that developed world envies), the corporate giants with deep pockets, the government with best intentions and the plenty of youth population to bring the change.
What’s stopping us from bringing the change is: A disjoint system that connects all of these in a straight line (another geometrical figure though not a likely match to the courtyard design of the Humayun’s Tomb!).
If you like this blog post & feel like sharing your feedback, please comment below and I would be glad to know that someone resonates my thought process.