The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 5 Gardens of the Plains - Delhi

Humayun Mughal Tomb

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The garden-tomb of Humayun, the first Mughal Emperor buried in India, lies south of Shah Jahanabad on the plains near the river, between the Emperors own fort of Purana Kila and the older Delhi of Tughlak Shah. Babar was buried in his favourite Garden of the New Year near Kabul, but his son and successor Humayun, whom he died to save, rests outside the capital of the New Mughal Empire. The story of Babars death is told by the historian Adul-Fazl, Akbars confidant and greatest friend. Humayun, Babars only son by his wife Mahum, of whom he was so fond, had been away from Agra and was brought back dying of fever. Nothing apparently could be done, and the doctors, powerless, gave up all hope. The mercy of God alone could save him now, they declared. Some supreme sacrifice might avail. The Emperor, to whom this was suggested, caught eagerly at the hope. He would sacrifice his own life. In vain the Koh-i-nor was suggested instead-the great diamond given up at the taking of Gwalior from the Rajputs. But that splendid offering to God was rejected. Babar would have none of it: 'The dearest thing I have is my life, and that is the dearest thing on earth to my son.' Persisting in his resolution, he walked, according to the solemn sacrificial usage, three times round his sons bed, praying earnestly. Suddenly he was heard to exclaim: 'I have borne it away! I have borne it away !' From this moment, Mussulman historians assert, Humayun began to recover, while Babar slowly sank: his health impaired with his forty-eight years of strenuous activities and ceaseless hardships, and now fatally undermined by anxiety and nervous prostration. So passed away the Emperor Babar, on the 26th of December 1530, after thirty-six years of kingship. Pilgrims still visit his grave at Kabul, the grave of the first of the great Mughals. Well they may, for there lies the most romantic, gallant, genial Prince of Oriental history. 'Heaven is the eternal abode of the Emperor Babar,' they wrote on his tomb; but his epitaph can best be written in his own words-those in which he describes his father in his Memoirs:-'His generosity was large, and so was his whole soul, yet brave withal and manly.' Few of us can follow the pilgrims to the Garden of the New Year, but most of us in India visit Agra. Every Englishman who does so should lay a tribute at Sikandrah on the grave of the great Peacemaker and Statesman, Akbar, who had the gift which wins all hearts, and should not forget to scatter there a few sweet-scented flowers in memory of Babar, from whom his grandson inherited that precious talisman.