About the Book:
Humayun's Tomb & Adjacent Monuments is the second in a series of travel guides being brought out by the Archaeological Survey of India with the aim of introducing the visitor to the World Heritage Monuments in India.
Extensive historical research and a focus on architectural details make this book an invaluable companion for anyone wishing to explore Emperor Humayun's mausoleum and its environs. Apart from focusing on the many monuments within the Humayun's Tomb Complex, there is also a brief section on the Purana Qila, believed to be the site of the oldest settlement in Delhi.
Specially-commissioned photographs, architectural illustrations and easy-to-follow site maps also make the book a visual delight.
Included in the guidebook is a sequentially arranged Practical Information section that covers all aspects of travel needs - from details of visas, embassies and tourist information offices, to information about hotels and airline offices.
The Guide to the Humayun's Tomb is the second in the special World Heritage series being published by the Archaeological Survey of India. This magnificent monument made of red sandstone inlaid with white marble, is the first substantial example of a garden tomb on the charbagh pattern. Built within a walled enclosure with big arches and a bulbous dome, it is a fitting memorial to the second Mughal emperor, Humayun. The book also contains a comprehensive section on the other monuments with in the complex, including Isa Khan's Mosque and Tomb and the Arab-Sarai.
Humayun's Tomb complex exudes serenity and if one goes early enough, families of peacocks can be seen strutting about.
The well-researched guidebook incorporates all information of tourist interest as well. This edition contains digitized and hand-drawn maps, architectural line drawings and colour photographs.
I hope it will be an enjoyable book to read and a souvenir to cherish.
High in the snow-sheathed mountains of the Safed koh is a narrow pass that has seen army after invading army sweep through on its way south into the rich Indo-Gangetic plains. It was through the winding Khyber pass that Alexander's army marched on its way to conquer the world; it was through here that the Perisians, Scythians and Parthians came.
And it was through here that horde of marauding Mongols came sweeping down in 1398, plundering and laying waste all before them. Their warrior chieftain, Timur, was in India for less than six months but in that time plundered so much that, according, his army was so laden with booty that they could scarce march four miles a day'.
Among the booty Timur took back to Samarkand were a herd of elephants and a team of stone-masons. These soon became part of a community of artists and artisans in Samarkand which already included painters, calligraphers and architects from Persia and would soon be joined by silk weavers and glass blowers from Damascus and silversmiths from Trukey, as soon as Timur overran those lands.
Cultured court life was an integral part of the Timurid ideal. Books and manuscripts were treasures the Timurid princes seldom let out of their sights; and they delighted in landscaping elegant pleasure gardens. Architecture, too, was a passion and the great cities of Samarkand and Heart were studded with magnificent buildings.
This intertwining of the aesthete and the warrior in the person of the king was an ideal that all Timur's descendants would aspire to, including those history knows as the Mughals. Historian Ebba Koch sums up the humanistic Timurid legacy of the Mughals, saying that they combined 'political and military genius with scientific, artistic, even mystical qualifications of the highest order'. She goes on to categorise them as 'not only founders of cities (Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan), architects (Shahjahan), recognized naturalists and horticulturists (Jahangir). Polo-players (Akbar, Jahangir's wife Nur Jahan), but also authors of readable autobiographies (Babur and Jahangir), letters (Aurangzeb) and poems (Babur); they were calligraphers, collectors of art, sponsors of painting and literature, astronomers (Humayun), religious innovators and authors of philosophical treatises and of mystic works (Dara Shikoh and Jahanara)'.
Babur, the first of the line in India, was quite close to the Timurid ideal. A born warrior, his attack on north India, which he claimed as part of his Timurid legacy was masterly. Taking advantage of the internecine squabbles among the Afghan rulers of north India, he swept through the mountain passes and was well into Punjab before his enemy could react.
Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi marched out to meet him and the two armies face each other at Panipat. The Lodi ruler had 100, 000 men and a thousand elephants as against Babur's 20,000 soldiers. But Babur had artillery- his musketeers under the command of the Turk, Ustad Ali Quli rained chaos into the ranks of the enemy and Babur won Hindustan in April 1526.
Babur was a true Timurid, with equal measures of martial and artistic skills. He had an abiding passion for books and gardens, and was an accomplished poet. Few of his gardens in India survive, but he Baburnama does. This memoir spans Babur's transition from a nomad prince to the emperor of Hindustan.
His son, Humayun, although not lacking in personal courage, was certainly not as able a commander as his father. Historians contend that he never took time out to consolidate a battle victory and would fritter away months celebrating the triumph in an unending feast of wine, opium and poetry.
Humayun was uncommonly superstitious (he never entered a room left foot first) and completely star-struck. According to Abul Fazl, he organised the administration of his kingdom on astrological lines, dividing departments according to the elements- Earth looked after agriculture and architecture; Water looked after irrigation and the royal cellars; Fire was in charge of all matters military; and Air was left with miscellaneous subjects like the wardrobe, the stables and the necessary management of the mules and camels.'
Each day of the week was reserved for a particular administrative function based on the planet governing the day. So, Tuesday, governed by Mars, was so, Tuesday, governed by Mars, was given over to justice, Sunday to affairs of state and Monday to matters of mirth. Humayun, ever-inventive, also had a huge 'carpet of mirth' with astrological symbols and planetary positions marked on it. Courtiers and officers were supposed to arrange themselves on it while Humayun, seated on the Sun, cast dice to get them to disport themselves for his amusement.
To be fair to him, Humayun set about to develop a new city in keeping with the Timurid traditions of his forefathers. Soon after his accession he laid the foundations of a new city by the Yamuna and grandly called it Dinpanth or Refuge of the Faithful.
Other Monuments in Humayun's Tomb Complex
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