Humayun's tomb restored to pristine glory under PPP
Sixteenth century mausoleum Humayun’s tomb is back to its original splendour along with the revival of Mughal-era craftsmanship in its vicinity here after six years of restoration work carried out by Aga Khan Trust for Culture on public-private partnership.
This world heritage site, which suffered alterations in many of its structures due to use of cement during 20th century interventions, has been brought back to its architectural integrity by use of traditional materials combined with traditional building craft skills of masons, plasterers, stone carvers, and tile makers.
“No resources and effort was spared to bring our systems at par with the best in the world and provide a model for conservation to the world,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after inaugurating the mausoleum in the presence of Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Group, and Aga Khan, who specially came India to attend the function, on Wednesday.
The restoration, jointly carried out by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Archaeological Survey of India, was supported by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.
Before undertaking restoration work, a significant archival research programme, coupled with meticulous documentation, was done.
The conservation plan was later peer-reviewed by international experts.
Addressing the function, Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, said several thousand square feet of floor concrete was removed from the monument's walls and floor using hand tools.
At the planning stage it was noted that for the Mughal builders, the tiles on the roof canopies represented a reminder of their Persian ancestry. In the 21st century, however, the tiles represented a craft skill lost in India.
Before it actually began, the conservation process went through four years of experimentation under the guidance of master craftsmen from Uzbekistan, who trained youth from the adjoining Nizamuddin Basti in tile making, leading to revival of Mughal-era craftsmanship.
“The project has provided 200,000 man-days of employment for master craftsmen, demonstrating the potential of conservation work to fulfill a significant government objective The resident communities of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti now benefit from improved urban infrastructure in health, education, water and sanitation as a by-product of this initiative,” the Prime Minister noted.
The project achieved the important objective of engaging local communities in conservation and providing them opportunities for vocational training. It is only, thus, that conservation in India can become truly meaningful, he said.
Singh used the opportunity to reach out to the corporate houses, reiterating his call for public private partnership. “The responsibility to conserve and restore our nation’s heritage cannot simply be the sole preserve of government agencies,” he said.
Effort to preserve our heritage can be productively dovetailed with local area development through infrastructure improvement, community participation, employment generation, boosting local crafts and arts, environmental conservation and landscaping, he added.
“The involvement of the local communities who form part of the ecosystem of this heritage is essential in this effort, he noted.