June 11, 2012

Afsarwala Mosque & Tomb Complex, New Delhi

Located within the Humayun’s Tomb Complex, the Afsarwala Mosque & Tomb Complex is reached by entering through the Arab Serai Gate. “Afsar” literally means officer, & even though the identity of the person buried in the tomb is not known, it is widely believed that he was some noble or military officer during the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. The tomb and mosque were built sometime before 1566, as this date is inscribed on one of the three graves inside.

The Afsarwala Tomb & Mosque Complex

As one enters this enclosed garden, one sees the side-view of the mosque. The black-colored mosque, though sans any decorations, looks beautiful in its own stead. Besides the mosque is a large chamber, adorned with beautiful “jalis” (stone lattice work). My guess is that this chamber was also used for prayers. The chamber is located on ground level, while the mosque & tomb together stand on a high plinth.

The mosque window

The duo of mosque & tomb look magnificent standing together, & the black mosque compliments the orange-ish tomb. At one time perhaps their domes were covered with plaster & tiles, but now they have lost all artwork, & are inscribed with the names of modern lovers, chalked or scratched on their surfaces. This time around, I agree with A.S.I.’s decision to grill all the stairways & prevent people from reaching the upper floors. The names & markings really look hideous & were it not for the uniqueness & design of the tomb-mosque duo, they were all but destroyed. The domes are topped by inverted-lotus filials.


The mosque has three arches along the front, the central arch being the largest. Each end of the fa├žade has a narrow staircase built into the thick outer wall.

Black Beauty

The tomb adjacent to the mosque is better preserved. Shaped like an irregular octagon, with alternate sides wide & narrow, the tomb is sparingly decorated with inlays of black and white marble on a background of red sandstone. The wider sides of the octagon are decorated with deep recessed arches, each pierced by a doorway. The narrower sides have comparatively shallower recessed arches, but no entrances.

General's Tomb

The interior of both mosque & tomb were once beautifully decorated, with the carved medallions still visible. However most of the decorations are now lost with time & even the plaster is now flaking away from the walls & roof.

Plaster work, inside the mosque

The tomb is cruciform in plan & contains 3 graves, one of them inscribed with verses from the Koran & the number 974, which probably refers to the date in the Hijra era corresponding to AD 1566-67.

Inscription on one of the graves

The mosque & tomb both look charming & I spent a lot of time taking photographs in the complex. The tomb simply beckons one towards itself, & sitting inside it one simply forgets everything by getting lost in their own thoughts. The trees flaying their branches outside the windows look beautiful.

The world outside..

Open: All days 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Entrance Fee:
Citizens of India and visitors of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan Thailand and Myanmar - Rs. 10 per head.
Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head
(children up to 15 years free)
Nearest Metro Station: JLN Stadium Metro Station
Photography charges: Nil
Time required for sight seeing: 30 min


  1. short and sweet..nice one!

  2. I like images titled: companions, black beauty and general's tomb. good clarity.
    and again- its crisp... which is great!