Delhiwale: Beyond Humayun’s Tomb
The big one, Pilkhan, is 104 years old, and the small one, frangipani, is just 15. You too might have noticed the juxtaposed beauty of these two trees— or not. After all, it is difficult to look away from Humayun’s Tomb when one is in Humayun’s Tomb.
The iconic monument complex sprawls over several acres, and every bit of it is as beautiful as the signature building. With the hot weather gone, you must spend an entire day here, from morning to evening, as this is the only way to experience the place in all its subtleties.
The Mughal-era complex is studded with scores of smaller monuments. One of these—Isa Khan’s mausoleum, with its accompanying mosque—is a world of its own. It has already been celebrated in these pages. After having surveyed both the big tombs, this must be your plan of action for the rest of the day:
Aimlessly stroll about the gardens
Circle around the rarely frequented buildings on the peripheries
Observe the fellow visitors, and eavesdrop on their talks (as fun as any rom-com)
Gaze upon the trees and flowers
Lounge on one of the garden benches
Then there’s another dimension to Humayun’s Tomb—heard, not seen. The air hums intermittently with the chuk-chuk sound of trains—the railway track runs behind the monument, and the engines’ horn hauntingly evokes all the far-off lands the trains are headed to. While the bird chatter is so loud that you fear the trees from which it is coming might explode any moment. Indeed, there is arguably no other place in Delhi where you can hear so many diverse avian sounds all at the same time, and without a break (Lodhi Garden’s bird orchestra performs only in the evening).
Occasionally, the laughter of visitors inside the monument echoes out, briefly disrupting the aural harmony of the place.
Another absorbing sight is to observe the people with a day job in the monument—the guards strolling about their assigned areas (what can be going on in their mind during these long, lonesome shifts?), the grass cutters cutting the grass with their back towards the Humayun’s Tomb, and the sweating gardeners gathering the fallen leaves into bundles.
By the time the evening sets in and it is time to leave, the monument and its surroundings have been viewed through many moods and many shades of daylight. One feels one has made a long journey.