I have travelled extensively by God’s Grace and seen tombs and mausoleums all over the world.
there are some like the Itmad-ud-Daula’s tomb that awe you by its perfection, or Taj Mahal with it’s precision, symmetry and pristine beauty or the smaller shrines of Sufi saints with their spiritual atmosphere.
But for sheer power and magnificence of the interior, I don’t think I have seen any like the Gur-e Amir (gor- in Persian is tomb/ grave while Amir is king) , mausoleum of Amir Timur in Samarqand. And it literally is fit to be a king’s tomb.
This is of course the precursor of Humayun’s tomb and Taj Mahal. The latter two differ from this by being designed as a chahar bagh.
The exterior is pleasing but not overwhelming so as I followed our guide through a passage where old photos of the tomb before restoration were hanging, I wasn’t expecting anything so spectacular.
But as soon as I entered through the small wooden doors, it was as if the wind was knocked out of me. I was not prepared for so much splendour.
The exterior was repaired and restored by the Soviets in the 1950s, when the dome, main portal and minarets were refurbished. While, the restoration of the interior was undertaken in 1970s.
The tomb was initially built by Timur for his favorite grandson Muhammad Sultan in 1403, on the location of the latter’s khanqah.
Timur built one for himself in his birthplace, Shakhrisabz, but when he fell sick during his China campaign and died, he was buried here. Later his grandson the magnificent Ulugh Beg modified it.
The first thing one sees on entering is the blue ribbed onion dome on a long drum. It features 64 ribs equaling the number of years the Prophet Muhammad lived.
Inside the tomb, the lower level are onyx slabs till the dado, while , higher level has decorative bands and splendid star patterned murals.
The muqarnas are made of papier mache [ remember that papier mache came to Kashmir from C. Asia]. These are gilded and covered with beautiful floral designs.
The first and largest tomb is of Timur’s spiritual preceptor Syed Baraka. Syed Baraka also died in 1403, and from what I gathered from the guides his body was brought here by Timur for burial.
Syed Baraka ”s cenotaph marking his grave in the crypt below
Below him in a dark green jade grave lies Timur. It is the single largest piece of jade and was brought from a Chinese palace by Ulugh Beg.
Also buried here are two of Timur’s sons Shahrukh and Miran Shah, his grandsons Muhammad Sultan and Ulugbek
The tombstone has an inscription in Arabic saying ‘When I rise from the dead the whole world will tremble.’
Those who have attempted to tamper with it have indeed been visited by badluck. Of these the chief being Nadir Shah.
Papier mache designs