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humayunHUMAYUN IS KING AT 23. He knows he must tread carefully. Considering he has always followed the path of least resistance, staying clear of confrontations is simple. The comings and goings of well wishers serves as a crash course in the inherited support network. Some are more important than others, For now, he tells himself, I don’t think it will send the right signals if I seem to be too eager to please. If anything, it’s the organisation of things that can do with a bit of attention.

He calls his astrologers and goes about sketching out a timetable for how the week should be arranged. Off the record, it follows his rough personal schedule for the last two years. With only minor restructuring and the inputs of senior advisers and astrologers, it firms up to look a bit like this –


Babur takes great interest in what the stars foretell. Image: From a 17th Century Ottoman miniature (Istanbul University Library)

Saturdays & Thursdays: Give audience to the literary and religious guests; Sundays & Tuesdays: Receive state officials, look to management of government affairs; Mondays & Wednesday: Pleasure; parties.

He is also considering commissioning appropriate courts for his audiences. Before any of this however, he fulfills a long held dream of fixing an official day for a Mystic Feast (it will be held on the anniversary of his accession) and drawing up plans for an appropriate house for the feast, preferably on the banks of a river. Blueprints for the Mystic House are drawn up within months of Humayun’s accession and construction begins shortly after.


Centuries later it will be said that Humayun didn’t leave much of an architectural legacy. Truth could well be that his might have been the most astonishing, built as it was, with the intention of being packed up. Humayun’s imagination leads him to commission some of the most fanciful but fleeting creations of any in the Mughal line: a movable palace, a movable bridge, a floating market, a dismantable pavilion (Tent of Twelve Signs) with adjustable configurations.