Installation of Humayun’s Tomb’s finial in New Delhi, India. Humayun's Tomb and Garden Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has immensely contributed to cultural restoration of monuments in India. Since 2007, the Initiative has led over 30 monuments being conserved, almost 150 acres sensitively landscaped, over 2,000 individual craftsmen employed and over 20,000 trees planted.
Installation of Humayun’s Tomb’s finial in New Delhi, India. Humayun's Tomb and Garden Complex is a UNESCO Wor...
Energy-saving LED bulbs have replaced high-energy consuming halogen light fixtures, which were installed at Humayun's Tomb in 1999.
AKDN / Ram Rahman
Energy-saving LED bulbs have replaced high-energy consuming halogen light fixtures, which were installed at Hu...
AKDN / Ram Rahman
Sunder Nursery, New Delhi, India. Aligned with the large entrance plaza of Humayun’s tomb, Sunder Nursery features a spectacular pedestrian Central Axis conceived in three parts, as a progression of formally arranged gardens around the heritage structures and merging at its end with the proposed arboretum and water gardens.
Sunder Nursery, New Delhi, India. Aligned with the large entrance plaza of Humayun’s tomb, Sunder Nursery feat...
In this picture, Rahim's Mausoleum is shown after conservation, but when AKTC began work on the mausoleum in 2014, it was a ruin. The six-year conservation effort that followed became the largest conservation effort ever undertaken at any single monument of national importance in India.
In this picture, Rahim's Mausoleum is shown after conservation, but when AKTC began work on the mausoleum in 2...
Over one million kilos of 20th-century concrete were removed from the roof of Humayun’s Tomb
Sunder Nursery, New Delhi, India.
The 90-acre Sunder Nursery stands on the Mughal-era Grand Trunk Road. It is home to several monuments of national importance. As with the Humayun’s Tomb conservation, works were preceded by the preparation of a detailed conservation plan.
Principal works undertaken included ongoing conservation of the unique 16th-century Sundarwala Mahal to reconstruct recently collapsed portions, and the restoration of the unprotected 18th-century Mughal-era garden pavilion. Sundarwala Burj, Lakkarwala Burj, Sabz Burj and Azimganj Serai also required conservation works, which are now completed.
Chausath Khamba, Nizamuddin Basti, New Delhi, India.
AKDN / Christian Richters
The conservation of monuments and the rehabilitation of open spaces in the Basti aim to restore its intrinsic cultural, historical and spiritual significance. Conservation works commenced following the partial collapse of the 14th-century baoli (step-well).
Conservation works benefited from state-of-the-art technology, including a ground- penetrating radar survey, high-definition 3D laser scans and geotechnical assessments. We rebuilt the collapsed portions as per the original construction techniques, after dismantling a dwelling unit over the collapsed portion and building alternate accommodation for the family.
In keeping with the requests of the local community, we manually removed seven centuries of accumulations from the baoli. At the eastern edge of the Basti stand two important tombs: the unique and striking Mughal tomb known as Chausath Khamba and the tomb of Mirza Ghalib, one of South Asia’s most renowned poets. Together, they form one of the largest open spaces in the Basti. Landscape works at Ghalib’s tomb have enhanced the historic character and restored dignity to his resting place. The serene and tranquil courtyard, separated from the street by stone lattice screens, now serves as an ideal locale for mushairas.
The city of Delhi holds some of the most important sites and monuments from the Mughal period. Among them are Humayun’s Tomb and Gardens, now part of a densely built residential district of the Indian capital.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Indian independence, AKTC decided to sponsor the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb Gardens, a four-part paradise garden (chahâr-bâgh), where the gardens are divided into quarters by raised causeways. The quadrants are divided, in turn, into eight plots, each with walkways. At the intersection of these walkways are octagonal or rectangular pools.
The Gardens represent the earliest existing example of the Mughal garden tomb and an important public open space. This first privately funded restoration of a World Heritage Site in India was completed in March 2003 through the joint efforts of AKTC and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the aegis of the National Culture Fund.
Our objective was to restore the gardens, pathways, fountains and water channels surrounding Humayun’s Tomb according to the original plans of the builders. The preservation of historic elements required archival and archaeological research, as well as close attention to the living and renewable landscape elements.
Site works encompassed a variety of disciplines, including archaeological excavation, the application of conservation science and hydraulic engineering.
The restoration project included:
These activities were backed by research that informs the conservation and restoration process. The research contributes to the development of educational materials for use in schools of architecture, conservation and heritage management, as well as for visitors to the Tomb.
As part of the implementation process, a management plan was established to ensure proper long-term maintenance.
The completed restoration of Humayun’s Tomb Gardens returns a significant amount of enhanced green space to the city and the surrounding community, with its constituent parts returned to their historically authentic format.
The project is expected to increase visits to the Tomb, the Gardens and the associated visitor facilities (including parking), which together form a large complex next to a major urban highway in Delhi. A community green space for Nizamuddin locals, and a tourist destination for those in Greater Delhi and beyond, Humayun’s Tomb and Gardens has rekindled interest in the rich history of Mughal rule.
Rahim's Mausoleum, as seen from the Mathura Road after illumination, was inspired by the architectural style of Humayun's Tomb. It also went on to inspire the design of the Taj Mahal.
AKTC completed the conservation of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan's Mausoleum in Delhi, India, in 2020. Rahim, Commander-in-Chief of the Mughal army, was not only a noble in the court of Emperor Akbar, but he was also a statesman, courtier, linguist, humanitarian, patron and poet.
However, it is the mausoleum he built in AD 1598 for his wife, Mah Banu, that is the grandest of his surviving buildings. It was inspired by the architectural style of Humayun's Tomb and in turn inspired the Taj Mahal. On his death, Rahim was also buried in this mausoleum.