Barber’s Tomb ~ Humayun’s Tomb Complex, Delhi
Barber’s Tomb (Nai – Ki – Gumbad)
Humayun’s Tomb Complex, Delhi
Kings and queens have their magnificent tombs so does their brothers, sisters and cousins. Tombs of favorite ministers and even dogs are also not uncommon. But a tomb of Emperor’s favorite barber is something rarely heard of. Humayun the second of great Mughal ruler honored his favorite barber with a beautiful tomb, located next to his very own magnificent mosuleum.
Located towards the south – east of the Humayun’s Tomb stands a slender, elegant domed structure commonly known as the Nai – Ki – Gumbad, literally meaning the Barber’s tomb. Although several historical structures surrounds the famous Humayun’s Tomb. The Barber’s Tomb happens to be the only structure standing inside the large square (char – bagh), which houses the magnificent Humayun’s Tomb at the very centre.
Its proximity to the main tomb and the fact that it is the only other structure within the main tomb complex suggests its importance, however there are no inscriptions suggesting as to who is interred therein, the name Barbers tomb is the local name of the structure, hence still in use.
A board put up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) reads “Folklore lore refers to the building as Barber’s Tomb. The red sand stone facaded, tilted canopies, minarets and sandstone screens give the tomb its striking character. The tomb has within it the ornamental cenotaphs of one male and one female. The water channels around the tomb were added between 1905 and 1909.”
No one knows who are burried inside this picturesque tomb of red and grey sand stone. Popular myth is that the tomb is dedicated to Mughal emperor Humayun’s royal barber & was commissioned by emperor Akbar.
The figure 999 carved on one of the graves inside the monument is the only clue to the date of this monument. The figure 999 probably represent the year of the Islamic Hijra calender and corosponds to 1590 – 91 AD.
The Barner’s Tomb stands on a podium 2.44 meters high and 24.3 meter square. It is reached from the south by a flight of seven stairs. The building is square on plan and consists of a single compartment covered with a double dome. The outer dome rises from a 16 sided drum and is crowned by a inverted lotus finial base, sadly the finial is missing. Each corner of the 16 sided drum consists of small minarets crowned with lotus motifs. At the each corner of the main structure is a pavilion (Chhattri), that still retains the remains of blue, green and yellow tile inlay.
The two marble graves inside are inscribed with verses from the Quran. Several sandstone screen allows the sunlight to filter inside the grave creating a mystic atmosphere.
So next time you visit Humayun’s Tomb do take some time out to have a look at the Nai – ki – Gumbad, the Barber’s Tomb.
- Humayun’s Tomb and Adjacent Monuments, World Heritage Series
- Barber’s Tomb, Delhi (Pixelated Memories, blog by Sahil Ahuja)
List of my blog post on Delhi