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Mr. Naresh Chandra

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Mr. D. P. Gautam

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Dr. Maleeha Lodhi

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Dr. W. Rasaputram

Delhi - the resilient city


History Made Easy
The Mughal Portfolio
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South Asian Memories
Sunil Dutt

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the-south-asian.com                         December 2000

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Humayun - founded the first school of Mughal painting


Born – 1508 in Kabul (Afghanistan). Eldest and favourite son of Babar.

Died – 1556 in Delhi. In Jan 1556, six months after his return from exile, he was observing Venus from the roof of his library, when he heard the call to prayer. Wishing to kneel down for his prayers, his foot caught in the folds of his garment, and he fell to the bottom of his library staircase and died. Humayun’s tomb built by his senior wife Haji Begum. Persian architect – Mirak Mirza Ghiyas – gave India its first dome in the Persian tradition. Started in 1564 and completed in 1573.

Length of rule in India – Ascended the throne at the age of 22. Two tenures as Padshah. First from 1530 –1540, and the second from 1555 – 1556. In exile for 15 years between 1540 and 1555 after defeat from Sher Shah Suri.

Father – Babar

Siblings – Three half-brothers – Kamran, Askari and Hindal. One sister Gulbadan.

Married - In 1541 married 14 year old Hamida, future mother of Akbar

Children – Akbar b 15 October 1542 in Umarkot (Sindh), and Hakim (not from Hamida)

Interests – Believer and follower of astrology. Enjoyed the company of learned men. Undertook the founding of the first school of Mughal painting – the Imperial Mughal Studio – with the help of painter Mir Sayyid Ali and calligrapher Abdus Samad. Joint team of two produced works of art dominated by Persian style. Passionately interested in astronomy, geography, mathematics, observing stars, astrology. Public ofices named after 4 elements - each day of the week reserved for appropriate type of business depending on the ruling planet of the day. Humayun built seven audience chambers, each named after a planet, where he received different people.Met learned men on Thursdays because Jupiter, the planet of learning, also ruled Thursdays.

Favourite pleasures - – wine, opium and poetry.

Military campaigns – Seized Ahmedabad from Bahadur Shah. Confrontation with Sher Shah in Bengal – and defeated.

Character traits – Profoundly religious. Extremely tolerant. Intellectual, patron of arts, lover of art and literature, a calligrapher, poet – also extremely superstitious.

As a ruler – Good and lenient monarch. Shared power with his three half brothers.

Weaknesses – penchant for opium.

Inherited – A vast empire that was not well consolidated.

Capital city - Following advice of astrologers, chose the ancient site of Indraprastha, associated with the Mahabharata, to build his new capital Din Panah in Delhi in 1533. All that’s left of it is what is now called Purana Qila


Above information  is compiled from various sources, prominent among them ‘India – a Country Study’, ‘Delhi’ by Khushwant Singh, ‘The Great Mughals’ by Bamber Gascoigne, ‘The Mughals – Splendours of the Peacock Throne’, and ‘The City of Djinns’


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