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Photo of the Week: A Cleaning Woman, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

  • Pravin Tamang
  • 9 November 2012

Regarded as the precursor to the architectural design that inspired the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb is one of the best monuments standing in Delhi, along with the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India and another architectural landmark that precedes others in this city.

It was evening when I shot this picture at Humayun’s Tomb. What inspired me to capture this image was the dramatic correspondence between the lady’s bright-blue-and-floral sari and the marigold flowers that are typical of the autumn season in the north of India. The golden light added an element of warmth to the picture.

Photo of the Week (9 November 2012): Cleaning Woman, Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

As I looked around, I noticed that the pathways and garden were clean, so I figured that the lady was waiting to go back home and call it a day. This woman was from a sweeper class belonging to the Sudra caste – the lowest of all the four- and her duty was to clean the debris or, most importantly, the leaves that fall on the pathways and fountains. Her cotton sari, which gives her the freedom to move when she does her chores, is a traditional attire of the masses in India.

Her cleaning tools were simple: a broom, dust pan and cotton cloth duster (for when she was responsible for cleaning the walls of the monument office). Brooms are usually attached to a long sturdy stick to facilitate sweeping while standing; however, in most cases, long broomsticks are used by men and shorter handles are used by women, who like to sit when they clean/mop.

I personally regard Humayun’s Tomb as my most favourite monument in Delhi. The sheer size of the main dome, the white marble inlaid work on the red sandstone and a vast span of manicured Mughal-style gardens make for an incredible sight to see in Delhi. In a busy city like New Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb and the gardens offer a breathing space for both locals and the travellers.

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Pravin Tamang

Pravin Tamang is the General Manager for PEAK Adventure Travel in India, which oversees Delhi Urban Adventures. Pravin discovered his passion for travel quite early and has travelled immensely in India as both a tour leader and a traveller. He founded Tathagata Journeys in Darjeeling and aims to enrich travellers with incredible local experiences.
Pravin Tamang
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architecture & landmarks, Asia, cities, India, local knowledge, personal experience, photo of the week, South-Central Asia, women,

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