Chausath Khamba – Tomb of Mirza Azizah Kokal Tash
The Chausath Khamba is situated on a busy and ancient market area dating back to the 14th Century AD also known as the Hazrat Nizamuddin ‘Basti’ which means ‘Village’ predominantly inhabited by Indian Muslims. This area lies just behind the Tomb of Mirza Ghalib and at the junction of Lodi Road and Mathura Road.
The name ‘Chausath Khamba’ sometimes spelt as ‘Chaunsath Khamba’ literally means ‘Hall of Sixty Four Pillars’. It is known as one of the most distinguished Tombs depicting exquisite designs inlaid with white marble. The Tomb belongs to Azizah Kokal Tash who was the foster brother of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the biological son of Atgah Khan where he was buried sometime between 1623 and 1624.
Mirza Azizah Kokah had selected this site where he constructed his own Tomb. The Graves of his mother and eight Brothers and Sisters are also seen within this Tomb area along with the Graves of his two wives and a few of his many children. During his lifetime, Mirza Aziz had served as the Governor of Gujarat under the Imperial reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir while the Emperor ruled from Delhi. He passed away in Sarkej where he was temporarily buried; however, his grave along with his remains were later shifted to the present location within the Chausath Khamba.
The Chausath Khamba Monument has an imposing entrance gateway and stunning architecture that depicts a diverse and innovative architectural design. It was originally a massive Hall built in the typical Mughal style probably used by the Emperor or even the Imperial Courtiers as a Private Hall. It was later converted into the Tomb of Mirza Azizah Kokal Tash. The Tomb is square in structure and built entirely out of white marble with an elaborately decorated facade. The Tomb has a flat roof held by Sixty Four Pillars from where the name originated supporting twenty five coves and each cove is surmounted by an inverted Dome which is not visible externally. Each wall of the Tomb is pierced with five arches held by square pilasters (slightly projecting Columns) and diagonal crisscrossed marble strips are carved on the face that lies in between each of the five pilasters.
The Tomb of Mirza Azizah Kokal Tash is also dotted with several other unknown graves however, it is still considered as the Shrine of the Family of Atgah Khan. This Tomb is also considered as a part of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah and was recently declared as a Heritage site categorised under Zone ‘D’ which is one of the six zones in Delhi that are marked for Conservation and Heritage Administration and Upkeep.
The URS Mahal is located right in front of the Chausath Khamba monument. It is an assembly hall used for cultural programs and Qawwalis during festivals and especially during the celebrations of the ‘Urs’ or death anniversary of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. It was renovated in 2003 and deemed as a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India or ASI. The Landscapes visible today on a portion of the courtyard just before the entrance of Chaunsath Khamba and the URS Mahal were in fact sketched and done up by the Aga khan Trust for Culture. Sufi Qawwali Music and songs of Jashn e-Khusrau are also witnessed during the Urs festival of Hazrat Amir Khusrau (13th Century Mystic Sufi Poet, Musician and Politician) attended by performers from the Country as well as Pakistan.