The Mughal Ladies influencing architecture: Haji Begum

Humayun’s first wife was a Persian from Khorasan and a daughter of Humayun’s maternal uncle. She was Bega Begum. She was also called Haji Begum, probably because she had gone on the Haj to Mecca. 

It is usually said that the first monument built under the supervision of any Mughal lady in India was the Humayun’s tomb in Delhi built by one of the Humayun’s widows named Haji Begam, during the reign of Emperor Akbar.

It is one of the first garden tombs built by the Mughals in India and in some ways provided the model of the later built Taj Mahal. The construction of the tomb began in 1560 A.D and was completed in 1571 A.D.

According to Percy Brown, ” the Humayun’s tomb is not only one of the most arresting examples of the building art in India but it is also an outstanding landmark in the development of the Mughal style.”

In structure and spirit, the Humayun’s tomb is an example of the synthesis of the Persian and the Indian building traditions.  Apart from this, Haji Begam also built a sarai called Arban Sarai in 1560 A.D, which had an accommodation of 300 people, built mainly as a resting place for travelers.

As Gulbadan recounts it, Bega Begum said to Humayun, ‘For several days now you have been paying visits in this garden, and on no one day have you been to our house. Thorns have not been planted in the way to it. We hope you will deign to visit our quarters also, and to have a party and a sociable gathering there too. We too have hearts. Three times you have honoured other places by visits and you have run day and night into one in amusement and conversation.’

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