Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb


The Plan of Humayun's Tomb: Gallery Level

Glenn Lowry describes the form and function of the gallery level plan of Humayun's Tomb.

The second floor is made up of an elaborate system of halls and passageways organized around the sepulcher's central chamber that allow one to circumambulate all of the rooms below.1

The gallery level plan is a vertical extension of the first story, but the gallery passageways flow smoothly around and snaking in between the chambers. A central circumambulatory path traces the outline of the main cenotaph chamber. This path connects with circumambulatory paths that trace the outlines of the ancillary chambers. While circumambulating the central path, there are alternating interruptions by a garden vista at every cardinal direction followed by an ancillary chamber circumambulatory path.

The interior of the building consists of two radially symmetrical floors. The first is composed of a central domed chamber with the emperor's gravestone in the middle and four corner rooms. Corridors connect the corner rooms to one another and to the main chamber. The effect of this intricate arrangement is that these rooms can be seen as either totally independent spaces or appendages of the central chamber.2

It is uncanny how Lowry's description of the plan of Humayun's Tomb can be applied to the garden too. In the same manner that Lowry defines the plan of Humayun's Tomb as "radially symmetrical," the garden is also. The garden's "central domed chamber" is Humayun's Tomb. Its four "corner rooms" are the Grave Platform, the Tree Platform, the Barber's Tomb, and an octagonal pool that adds symmetry when paired with the octagonal Tree Platform as a hint to a larger connection. The four corners are connected to one another and the tomb by pathways. The garden's four corners can be seen as four charbagh gardens that are defined as independent by the main water channels. This same dividing element also ties the four gardens together into one charbagh garden, Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb.

Ultimately, if the gallery level plan of Humayun's Tomb is enlarge and superimposed on the garden's plan, the plan aligns with the garden's paths, buildings, platforms, and water features. The most intriguing thing to notice is that the dynastic graves in each ancillary chamber set down on their own charbagh plots.

1. Glenn Lowry, "Humayun's Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture," Muqarnas 4, (1987): 135.

2. ibid, 135.


Tomb's Plinth
The gallery level of Humayun's Tomb is comprised of gallery views from passageways that outline each chamber.
Humayun's Grave
When enlarged, Humayun's Tomb's upper story building plan can be lined up to the garden's plan to match many features, including the central water intersections in each of the garden's quadrants.
Water Channels
The garden and the building plan can both be seen as a single element or four elements connected by a central element.

Additional Information

A formal bibliography is posted on the outline page.
Tomb Plan