While Humayun tomb a fantastic building was being made, a very unfortunate thing happened in Akbar’s life. He was very close to the families of both his nurses, Maham Anaga and Jiji Anaga, but Maham Anaga’s family really resented all the favours Akbar did for Jiji Anaga’s kin. Maham’s son Adham, who had grown up with Akbar, was now a commander in his army, but was really swollen-headed and insolent. On the other hand, Jiji Anaga’s son Aziz was well-behaved, and her husband, Shamsuddin, was Akbar’s vakil. Akbar was so close to Shamsuddin that he never called him by his name, but called him Ataga which means father’ (just like Anaga means mother’).
Once, young Adham really misbehaved and Akbar had to give him a scolding. This enraged Adham; he got drunk and rushed into the palace waving his sword shouting Where is that Akbar? I will kill him today!’ Ataga Khan rushed to block his path but Adham cut him down, and ran up the stairs towards Akbar’s bedroom.
Akbar heard the commotion and came outside and overpowered Adham and handed him over to the guards.Then he looked down and saw his beloved Ataga Khan sprawled on the ground with the blood seeping out of his body. Why have you killed our Ataga,’ he cried, and there and then ordered the guards to throw Adham off his parapet and down to his death. Adham fell but did not die and Akbar ordered that he be brought upstairs and thrown down again. This time he did die.
For his beloved Ataga, Akbar ordered a tomb to be built. It is like Humayun’s tomb in many ways, though it is much smaller. And in many ways it is better. It is more beautifully decorated, and it is in a really sacred spot, just adjoining the tomb of saint Nizamuddin Chisti
It’s a little jewel hidden in the narrow and crowded streets and almost forgotten by everyone. But here is a small and perfectly proportioned version of Humayun’s tomb, made by Akbar in memory of his dead foster father, even as the huge tomb for his real father was being built. Look at the marble on the walls, so beautifully carved with flowers and with verses from the Quran. These are words that honour martyrs, and must have seemed the right thing to put on the tomb of a man who died defending his emperor-son. If you can, open the door and see the traces of lovely painting and other decoration inside the tomb. And think about the massive tomb made across the road for a father who was an emperor, and whose tomb needed to impress the public, and the tiny and exquisite tomb made as a more personal gift of love from a devoted foster-son, to his devoted foster-father