Restoring the past glory – Rethinking Conservation

Restoring the past glory - Rethinking ConservationThe talk on ‘ReThinking Conservation’ by Ratish Nanda, project director in the Aga Khan Development Network, which was held recently at the National Gallery of Modern Arts, was educative and insightful.

It revolved around renovation and bringing back many heritage buildings and monuments of the country to its past glory.

The talk was attended by many architecture students as well as historians.The pictures shown by Ratish compared the past and present conditions of the monument. They portrayed the massive amount of work that had been done by Ratish and his team.

One of their most prominent works was to renovate Humayun’s Tomb. “In the past, we have renovated several Mughal monuments and that is why Humayun’s Tomb was a huge challenge.

The monument was in a mess when we first inspected the site. The tomb has a lot of visitors and the population in and around the area is also very dense because of the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin,” he informs. He adds that the motive was to conserve the age-old monument and enrich the experience of the visitors.

“We needed many craftsmen and most of the funds had to be allotted to them. We used the Geographic Information System (GIS) and thanks to that, every stone was mapped. We had to replace 14 per cent of the stones and in the process had to take the help of people from around the globe,” he notes.

One of the most interesting renovation that this team had done was to renovate a 14th century step-well. “There was a massive layer of concrete which had been depositing through years in this well since ages. And the most bizarre fact was that there were 19 families which had been living in and around this well.

We removed this layer of concrete manually and it took us a long time to do it. Chaunsat Khamba, which is the birth place of quawalli in India, was also renovated and today, many artistes perform there,” he adds.

Shraddha, a student, attending the talk was quite impressed. “The pictures that he showed, especially the ones before the work and then after it, were quite impressive. The facts and points that he mentioned would be helpful for my research,”
she notes.

Amit, who was there at the talk, found it interesting. “We never knew that so much work goes into renovating old monuments. The skill and perfection with which the team has worked is commendable,” he says.

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