“A central premise of our work is that cultural enrichment and historic restoration can also be effective springboards for economic and social progress.
We have been encouraged by the impact of this project on the lives of some 20,000 inhabitants of the Nizamuddin Basti area.”
– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan at the inauguration ceremony of the restored Humayun’s Tomb and Garden, Delhi, India, September 18, 2013
An Indo-Muslim dynasty (r.1526 – 1858), the Mughals ruled over most of South Asia and parts of what is now Afghanistan. The Mughal Emperors accorded great importance to architecture as a symbol of kingship. When Akbar succeeded to the throne in 1556, his first major architectural project was the construction of his father’s (Humayun) tomb in Delhi. Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor and the son of Babur, who founded the Mughal dynasty.
The tomb of Humayun, one of the twenty-seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, was the first of the monumental mausoleums to be built in the country. Begun in 1562, the work on the tomb was completed in 1571. Placing the mausoleum in the centre of a large chahar bagh (Fourfold Garden) was an innovation in design of tombs and gardens, and was unique in the Indian Subcontinent. Humayun’s tomb, influenced by Persian architecture, with its domed chambers of monumental magnificence, came to characterize the splendour of the dynasty and was a model for later Mughal tombs such as the Taj Mahal. Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the earliest example of the use of red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities.
Humayun’s tomb was restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India. Together with the conservation works on Humayun’s Tomb, a number of adjoining monuments have been restored, including: Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan’s garden tomb, Bu Halima’s garden tomb, Arab Serai gateways, Sundarawala Mahal and Burj, Batashewala group of Monuments, Chausath Khambha, and Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli.
His Highness the Aga Khan presided over the inauguration ceremony of the restored Tomb and Garden on September 18, 2013. In his address, the Aga Khan stressed the importance of restoration work as vectors for economic progress:
“A central premise of our work is that cultural enrichment and historic restoration can also be effective springboards for economic and social progress. Rather than being a drain on fragile economies, as some once feared, investment in cultural legacies can be a powerful agent in improving the quality of human life. The impact of such projects can begin by diversifying local economies, expanding employment and teaching new skills. And a continuing stream of visitors, properly guided and welcomed, can provide income streams far into the future, which can be further invested in economic growth. We have been encouraged by the impact of this project on the lives of some 20,000 inhabitants of the Nizamuddin Basti area.” *
Research by Nimira Dewji
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