My sister and I planned to visit ‘Humanyun’s Tomb’ in New Delhi on Saturday. Purpose was to enthuse both our sons on India’s history. Both kids were reluctant to go as usual and complained throughout in the car. As we approached the place, I began explaining the historical significance of the monument to build some excitement and curiosity. ‘Imagine a three – four story structure build in sixteenth century, without the help of cranes and still standing without any iron pillar,’ I said.
‘Will we get potato wafers there?’ my twelve year old asked. Gritting my teeth I gave up and ignored him.
Thankfully the weather was pleasant, cool breeze and warm sun made it a perfect day for the excursion. I silently blessed Almighty, when I found there were no eateries or kiosk selling potato wafers or other fast food.
The tourists from other cities and countries were far more excited than our children about the heritage, next door. Some of them had started clicking pictures right from the ticket counter. There was a trace of excited impatience amongst the tourists to quickly enter the premises.
Right after the security clearance, we found ourselves in a massive courtyard with lush green garden and tall trees along the boundary wall. A long oval shaped shallow pool, with a fountain in the middle, was flanked by two trails of red sand. My sister and I again tried to instill some enthusiasm by pointing put the huge structure visible across the courtyard through an arched gate in front. But the kids just dragged their feet, making us feel guilty without any words. Exasperated, my sister and I glanced at each other and moved ahead.
The huge arched entrance gate, through which even an elephant could pass, was constructed as per the Mughal architecture prevalent in that era. Teams from archeological department were restoring the paint-work on the gate perched on self-supporting wooden ladders or makeshift platforms. The main structures were made of red sandstone, popular amongst the royalty in that period. I clicked some pictures, but my son refused to smile. I gave up all pretense of involving the kids and planned to enjoy myself.
The central building housed the grave of not only Mughal emperor Humanyun but of his queen, Bega Begum and numerous other royal family members. The main hall housing the marble clad graves was built on a fifteen feet high square platform. This hall was twenty meters high with four entrances on each side. Inside, a circular room dominated the space with four corridors on each side leading to other smaller rooms. The central room had Humayun’s grave. The other four rooms had graves of other princes and their families with their names engraved in Arabic.
As per the information displayed, the actual burial happened in the room below the massive platform, giving the place a mysterious aura. The graves above in the hall were dummies, just for praying and tourists. Curious tourists were trying to peek through the small blocked balconies on the platform, with stairs going down, to get a glimpse of the actual graves below.
Marveling at the architectural skills some 450 years ago without the benefit of modern technology, we came out.
‘Can we go to McDonalds now?’ asked my sister’s son. I vowed that I will never plan a family educational trip again.