The 16th century tombs and gardens of Isa Khan Niyazi and Bu Halima, part of the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb. The site has now been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and funds from the World Monuments Fund
Madhur Tankha, writing for The Hindu last month, reports that -
“For conservation to be successful in our country it is necessary that we return to a craft-based approach where master craftsmen are empowered to match the work of their forefathers using traditional materials, tools and building craft traditions,” said Aga Khan Trust for Culture project director Ratish Nanda, who has been associated with the restoration work of the two Mughal era garden tombs of Isa Khan Niyazi and Bu Halima over the past two years.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nanda said traditional materials were used while carrying out the restoration work on the two tombs. Restoration was a daunting task as it involved in-depth research, and experts from India and abroad had to be roped in. It was a challenge to produce authentic parts which could fit in the broken areas of the tombs. “It was driven by the understanding of the multi-disciplinary project team that the outstanding universal value of the Humayun’s Tomb world heritage site – of which these monuments are a part – lies in it being an ensemble of 16th Century garden-tombs,” said Mr. Nanda.
The conservation work was undertaken to successfully restore the dignity of the Mughal era garden tombs and create an understanding of these sites as well as to establish a model conservation philosophy.
According to landscape architect of the project Mohammad Shaheer, during the Mughal period the ground around the tomb was used for maintaining orchards. “The produce would be sold and used for the upkeep of the tomb.”
Apart from working on the conservation of the two tombs, the AKTC also involved the local community of Hazrat Nizamuddin basti in the conservation work which has been carried out on these tombs and the garden setting with co-funding from the World Monuments Fund and in constant dialogue with the Archaeological Survey of India.