Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanan’s Tomb, Delhi
Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanan’s Tomb, Delhi
A tomb stripped of its beauty and grace
About a 100 meter south of the Humayun Tomb Complex and at the entrance of Nizamuddin East colony, lies the tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan – i Khanan.
Located in a large complex, the tomb looks decapitated and abandoned. Only traces of sandstone and marble can be found on the outer walls of the Tomb, it seems the tomb has been striped of its ornamentation.
Indeed the Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanna was literally stripped of its marble, sandstone and all of its ornamentation in 1754. The material were used for the construction of Safdarjung’s Tomb.
Abdul Rahim (1556 – 1626), popularly known as Rahim, was a poet and philosopher and was one of the Navaratnas (Nine Gems) of Akbar’s court.
He was the son of Bairam Khan, Akbar’s tutor, guardian and mentor. After the assassination of Bairam Khan, Akbar took charge of his four year old son, Rahim. Akbar later married the widow (second wife, not the mother of Abdul Rahim) of Bairam Khan, and thus Abdul Rahim become Akbar’s step son.
In spite of being a Muslim, Rahim composed verses in honor of Lord Krishna and his work was appreciated by his contemporary, the great Sanskrit poet Tulsidas.
Rahim also translated Baburnama, written by Babur in Chaghtai, into Persian.
His verses are still a part of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Hindi syllabus.
Although known for his poetic genius, Rahim Khan was also an able military general and commanded Aklbar’s army in many a battles.
The Khan – i – Khana Tomb was built by Abdul Rahim, for his wife who passed away in 1598. Sadly, the last days of Abdul Rahim were not happy. He opposed Selim’s (Jahangir) accession to the throne and Jahangir took his revenge.
Abdul Rahim was stripped of his powers, and his two sons murdered, and their bodies left to rot in Purana Kella’s (Old Fort) infamous Khuni Darwaza (Murderer’s Gate).
Rahim Khan died of a broken heart in Lahore in 1626 and was left with no option but to be buried beside his wife in the beautiful mausoleum, which he himself constructed for his wife 28 years ago.
Even in death, Rahim Khan was not spared. Almost 125 years after his death, his tomb was mercilessly stripped of its marble, sandstone and all ornamentation, for the construction of the tomb of Safdarjung, the last Mughal Vazir (Prime Minister).
Built in the lines of the nearby Humayun’s Tomb, unlike its predecessor, the Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanan Tomb is not enclosed by a high wall of rubble masonry, instead it is surrounded by a high metallic fence of Archeological Survey of India (ASI). It is not known whether the tomb ever had a boundary wall.
The gardens surrounding the tomb are well maintained and used by the morning walkers for their walks, jogs and freehand exercises. For the rest of the day, the tomb remains virtually vacant.
Although robbed of its external ornamentation, the tomb still looks impressive with its traces of marble and sandstone layouts and the occasional floral motifs.
The massive double storeyed square tomb, standing on a high plinth, dominates its surrounding. Although the dome has been stripped entirely of its marble covering, it still dominates the neighborhood.
The plinth has several small tanks with floral outlines, perhaps they once had fountains installed in them or they simply served as lily and lotus pools.
Each side of the tomb has a centrally placed double heightened and deeply recessed archway, with a small door leading to the inside of Abdul Rahim Khan – i – Khanan’s Tomb.
The cenotaph (the original graves are located below the plinth and is beyond the reach of visitors) inside the tomb is just a rectangular slab, no ornamentation, no floral motifs and no calligraphy, probably the plunders of the tomb did not even spare the cenotaph.
As one’s eyes slowly gets adjusted to the darkness of the interior, the intricately decorated plaster works reveal themselves. From intricate star shaped patterns to elaborate floral designs, the interior of the tomb is elaborately decorated with stucco plaster works.
The paints have long pealed off, but the projected plaster work reminds one of the immortal verses of Abdul Rahim Khan – i Khanan.
Special Thanks: A special thanks to fellow blogger and heritage Sahil Ahuja. Although I never had the opportunity of having Sahil as my guide during my visit to Abdul Rahim’s Tomb but his post on the tomb in his personal blog and Indian Heritage Hub provided me with very useful inputs.