Mughal Humayun @ New Delhi |not food|

This is my second visit to this site and I try to see historic places twice to discover their significance – the first time you are too excited and often distracted by other visitors.

I am told by my guide this 10-hectare /25-acre/ garden is one of the first to have been laid out in a manner based on the description of an Islamic “char bagh”, the paradise garden. The use of the double dome, a recessed archway inside a rectangular fronton is typical of this time.

Symmetry and balance between the parts of a building seem as they are wishes of the Mughals son Akbar, while the delicacy of geometry and detail, including the decorative work is very contemplative and probably designed by the Persian architect.

It’s a simple garden setting, grassy with scattered trees with very few trees more than a hundred years old. You approach the tombs by a sandy pathway and waterways. There are similarities to those jungle temples you find in Angkor Wat.  The feeling is quiet and the structure is made with red sand stone with some marble inlays. These materials were popular to maintain freshness and deflect the hot summer heat. There are illusions of multiple passages amplified by the use of light, shadows, alignment of arches and symmetry.

The tombs building seems humble and stately and has been turned into an important Unesco Heritage sit visit, where people from all over the world come. I couldn’t help noticing the Star of David, prominently displayed right on the facade and present almost everywhere. For a tomb of an important Mogul leader muslims it seems like a contradiction. When I asked about the star of David, I am told the Moguls are descendants of Hebrew tribes, and the Great Akbar was said to be religiously tolerant and looked on all faiths as equally valid interpretations of the same divinity.

I am not sure about the hexagram and the significance at the tomb, however I did find it very intriguing. There is no conclusive evidence to be shared and so you can surmise yourself. I did find the stars much more obvious this time around, and each guide has a different take on why they are there. I believe that there is some kind of connection, or it’s just a decorative emblem selected by the architect. But I don’t believe that and if someone goes through such effort to place these Stars on the building, it must have some importance and significance.

They say the choice of the hexagram symbol was likely Akbar’s, since there is no record of Humayun’s use of the symbol as a kind of homage to his father’s infatuation with astrology. It’s written he organized everything from his wardrobe to his court on the basis of planetary alignment.

The hexagram was a potent symbol of astrology long before Humayun, and even long before it became one of the paramount symbols of Judaism. But I am not so sure about that. I know that astrology, and the six-pointed star is the perfect alignment of heavenly bodies, rare and divine and auspicious. A symbol thus to stargazers was a connotation of perfection, auspiciousness, balance, harmony, and equality.

Putting aside the stars, what I find quite amazing is this tomb must have been very scared at the time. Today it looks more like a place for tourists looking to take selfies. I doubt many people think much more than the experience of checking this off their list – snapping a shot, and drinking some water.

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