The Humayun Tomb, one of the country’s first garden mausoleum and a Unesco World Heritage Site, is getting a makeover. The three-year renovation project of the tomb began with a memorandum of understanding in 2007.
Every morning, nearly 100 masons troop in with their chisels to recast the weathered stones and crumbling lime facades of the 16th century mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun, a family tomb, which is home to 160 graves.
“At the core of the structural renovation project is the restoration of 42 arched bays on the enclosure of the tomb which had collapsed with time, and 68 arched alcoves at a lower level. The stonework of the terrace and the elevated plinth in the forecourt have been relaid,” says Ratish Nanda, conservation architect and project director of the Aga Khan Trust For Culture. “We planted 2,500 trees and plants like mango, lemon, neem, hibiscus and pomegranate, which were favoured by the Mughals,” he adds.
“I’m really looking forward to the new look of Humanyun’s Tomb. I think it is one of the most beautiful sites in Delhi,” says Ruchika Anand, a Delhi University student.
The restoration is part of a greater urban renewal project of the Nizamuddin area that includes restoration of the Humayun Tomb complex, the adjacent Sundar Nursery monuments and the Hazrat Nizamuddin shanty town.
Nanda’s team has been inspired by a 19th century photograph of Humayun's Tomb, which shows the original structure
“I have only read about the Tomb in my history books but I think a makeover is an interesting reason enough to visit the place,” says Gaurav Sharma, a management graduate.
“The attractive Nila Gumbad (Blue Tomb) outside the complex has also been added to the project”, said superintendent archaeologist of ASI’s Delhi circle K.K. Muhammed. The red-and-white tomb cast in sandstone and marble, built during 1565-72 AD on the bank of the Yamuna, is typical of the symmetrical Timurid architecture.