The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh and His Highness the Aga Khan, a Swiss-born philanthropist and Muslim spiritual leader, unveiled the restored Humayun’s Tomb of New Delhi on 18 September 2013. Aga Khan is the name used by the Imam of the Nizari Ismailis since 1818. The restoration work took around seven years and was a part of the The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project.
The task of restoration was done by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, and with the support of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. The restoration work took place on the public private partnership (PPP) model and it is first of its kind on the India’s heritage site. The project was funded primarily by the Aga Khan Trust. Ratish Nanda was the Project director of this restoration work.
What all restoration took place at Humayun’s Tomb?
• The restoration project which comprised of areas of Sundar Nursery, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and Humayun's Tomb complex was signed in the year 2007. In order to execute this project, plasterers, tile-makers, stone-carvers and traditional masons were employed.
• The architectural elements were corrected and restored by the workers. The dome made of white marble, before restoration, allowed water to infiltrate into double-dome chamber. This was restored during the project.
• The stone joints were filled with the lime mortar, which is prepared by mixing the marble dust with lime.
• In order to restore original water disposal system, around a million kilos of concrete was used. The layer of concrete was then laid on flat roof which surrounds the dome.
• Restoration of the decorative star-shaped patterns on the facade of the 68 mini-mausoleums on the ground level was also done. It is at this place that the 160 members of Mughal dynasty including Dara Shikoh are buried.
• After four years of restoration, the tiles on roof canopies were restored in order to match the original five colours.
• 42 6m tall arches were also reconstructed.
• The gardens of the complex were also restored with the water flowing through all the fountains. The project of garden restoration was taken up by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in association with the Archeological Survey of India in the year 1997 in order to mark the 50th a niversary of India's independence.
• All the water channels were re-laid almost exactly as before.
• More than 2500 trees as well as plants were introduced in the area according to the original landscape of the Humayun’s tomb.
• The wells were also re-excavated and incorporated into the rain water harvesting and irrigation system.
• Restoration work also took place on the edging stones, sandstone benches, water channels and walkways.
• Humayun’s Tomb also got two handcrafted Egyptian lamps with Islamic motifs in the main chamber and the west gate. These are much similar to the ones in Akbar's Tomb and the Taj Mahal in Agra. In order to hand these lamps, the 80-foot scaffolding was built. The lamps were hung from 16th-century iron hook which had the original lamp with gold tassel and went missing during Jat capture of Delhi. Made of brass, the lamp has inscriptions from Quran.
About the Humayun’s Tomb
• The construction of Humayun’s Tomb started in the year 1569, fourteen years after the death of Humayun. The tomb was built on the order of senior widow of Humayun- Hamida Banu Begam, also known as Haji Begam.
• It is the first distinct example of proper Mughal style, which was inspired by Persian architecture.
• The mausoleum is a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian traditions-the former exemplified by the arched alcoves, corridors and the high double dome, and the latter by the kiosks, which give it a pyramidal outline from distance.
• The tomb stands in the centre of a square garden, divided into four main parterres by causeways (charbagh), in the centre of which originally ran shallow water-channels.
• A baradari (pavilion) occupies the centre of the eastern wall and a hammam (bath chamber) in the centre of northern wall.
• Mirak Mirza Ghiyath was the architect of the Humayun’s Tomb.
• The tomb was constructed at a cost of 15 lakh rupees (1.5 million).
• It holds special significance because it was the first garden-tomb in India.
• Humayun’s Tomb was a source of inspiration for other architectural innovations including the Taj Mahal.
• Located near crossing of Mathura Road and Lodhi Road, Humayun’s Tomb is the first example of Mughal architecture in India.
• Various Mughal rulers lie buried in the Humayun’s Tomb. It is important to note that Bahadur Shah Zafar also took refuge in this tomb with three other princes during the first war of independence.
• Humayun’s Tomb is the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was designated the status of World Heritage Site in the year 1993. The World Heritage List includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage.
What is UNESCO World Heritage Site?
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the place which is listed by UNESCO as special cultural or physical significance. The list of the World Heritage Sites is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme, administered in turn by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is composed of 21 state parties which in turn are elected by the General Assembly.
Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India
• Agra Fort
• Ajanta Caves
• Ellora Caves
• Taj Mahal
• Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
• Sun Temple, Konârak
• Kaziranga National Park
• Keoladeo National Park
• Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
• Churches and Convents of Goa
• Fatehpur Sikri
• Group of Monuments at Hampi
• Khajuraho Group of Monuments
• Elephanta Caves
• Great Living Chola Temples 12
• Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
• Sundarbans National Park
• Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
• Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
• Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
• Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
• Mountain Railways of India
• Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
• Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
• Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
• Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
• Red Fort Complex
• The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
• Western Ghats
• Hill Forts of Rajasthan