24 Mar Talking Location With Author Nidhi Dalmia – Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb area in Delhi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is always lots to see when you visit Delhi but for me, the site that you cannot miss is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Humayun’s Tomb.
Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor and was commissioned by his first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum in 1569. It was designed by the Persian architect, Mirak Miraza Ghivas and was the first garden tomb in India. There are a number of related monuments all spread out in the Nizamuddin area to the side of the main one. The main monument with its red sandstone cannot help but create a wonderful atmosphere – unmistakable and unique. Its arches, quads and geometry all highlighted by the open spaces and lawns with smaller tombs with their own archways dotted around it is quite special. The tomb is also centrally located and easily accessible by different modes of transport so there really is no excuse not to visit.
Its romance takes on a different hue and tonality in different seasons and at different times of the day – on a very early summer morning when there is a softness and freshness in the air, or in the month of March to watch the leaves drift down and in the month of January when it is really cold and the monument is enveloped in fog. As a visitor, your senses are awoken, no matter the time, day or season. It is always different but remains magical. I sometimes like to wake early and walk through the Delhi fog in December-January at 3am in Nizamuddin to see the tomb. I always follow this with a visit to one of Delhi’s 24 hour coffee shops at a nearby Hotel, preferably one from where the monument is visible.
I would always recommend the iconic Oberoi Hotel with its rooftop restaurant as one gets a clear view of Humayun’s tomb is one. I felt compelled to feature the hotel and tomb when I was planning my first novel, Harp and indeed in one of the chapters, my leading man, Ashtok takes his current amore, Lauren dancing at the hotel. Sadly the Oberoi is currently being renovated and I look forward to it reopening in 2018.
Another Hotel with a splendid view of the tomb is the Rajdoot Hotel. Or later in the morning, a great place to stop and admire the view is the Café Turtle in the book shop Full Circle in the adjoining Nizamuddin East market. And if you are hungry, then there is also Karim’s restaurant- famous for its Mughal food within the Nizamuddin basti. In the same basti is the even more famous Dargah which is always full of character. On Thursdays and Fridays there are Sufi nights there – one in the Dargah and one nearby.
The tomb features several times in my novel, it allows Ashtok to consider his path and where it is leading him. The area that surrounds the tomb is vibrant, with lots going on. Restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, bookshops and yes, clothes shops selling the finest produducts to tempt you. In the area there is the world famous Anokhi factory outlet in the Nizamuddin East market – selling Rajasthani quilts, beddings, women’s clothing and lots of other beautiful things.
For me, the tomb remains one of the most beautiful and inspiring places in Delhi, or to be honest, in the world. It is a hidden jewel that I am hopeful, my readers will want to see.