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Emperor Humayun's Garden Tomb

Circumambulation

Circumambulatory Paths

To circumambulate, is to walk around something. A circumambulatory path is a pathway that is designed to facilitate circumambulation. Passageways on the second story of Humayun's Tomb facilitate circumambulation of the cenotaphs in the main chamber and ancillary chambers.1 In many religions, circumambulation is a form of worship. In the context of Humayun's Tomb, "This ritual, drawn from sufic rites, was a common practice at Mughal imperial tombs."2

In the context of Humayun's Garden Tomb, the graves of holy men in the graveyard at Nizam al-Din's khanqah are circumambulated by Sufi devotees. The white paths around the khanqah and graveyard are marked with green lines to direct circumambulation.

In the larger context of Islam, one of the five pillars of the faith is to complete a pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj. An important element of the Hajj is tawaf, circumambulating the Kaaba seven times counterclockwise.3


1. Glenn Lowry, "Humayun's Tomb: Form, Function, and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture," Muqarnas 4, (1987): 135.

2. Catherine B. Asher, Architecture of Mughal India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 56.

3."Tawaf," Hajj and Umrah Planner, accessed June 21, 2020, http://hajjumrahplanner.com/tawaf.

Illustrations

Circumambulatory Path at Khanqah
There are paths at Nizam al-Din's khanqah that are used for circumambulating the graves.
Humayun;s Tomb's 2nd Floor Paths.
The Circumambulatory Paths inside Humayun's Tomb

Additional Information

A formal bibliography is posted on the outline page.

Nizam al-Din's Chilla-khana & Khanqah

Nizamuddin Garden Wall Chilla-khana Chilla-khana Ablution Tank Ablution Tank Baraka Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Circumambulatory Path Baraka Khanqah
Garden Plan The Hammam Hammam Well Nizamuddin West Gate Grave Platform Baradari NE Well SE Well Wall Wall Wall Wall Wall Wall Wall Home SW Well Tomb Plan Tomb Fountain Fountain Fountain Chadars Tanks and Channels Water Water Water Water Chadars Chadars Tanks and Channels Chadars Chadars Tanks and Channels Tanks and Channels Tanks and Channels Tanks and Channels Water Tanks and Channels Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Chadars Water Channels and Pools Wall Mosque Barber's Tomb Nila Gumbad Wall South Gate Fountain South Gate Chadars Tree Platform