During the reign of Emperor Akbar several gardens and mausoleums were erected in the Nizamuddin Area owing to the close proximity to the saint’s dargah.
One of these is the mausoleum of Shams ud din Atgah Khan, which was built in 1566-67 AD. Atgah Khan had rescued Humayun as he fled from the battlefields of Chausa. As a reward his wife, Jiji Anga, was appointed as the wet nurse to the young prince Akbar, and Atgah Khan became a foster father to Akbar. His tomb is an exquisite example of Mughal architecture in white marble and red sandstone and it is located to the east of the dargah complex.
Built in the year 1566-67 by Atgah Khan’s son, Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, this is the finest example of early Mughal architecture. Square in plan the tomb is a combination of red sandstone and white marble with geometric pattern red sandstone inlay panels on all the four facades and marble panels with handmade tile inlay work in the spandrels. The interiors, once highly decorative with red sand stone jaalis and incised plaster work motifs and inscriptions from the holy Quran as calligraphy – have mostly been stripped of this original work and 2002-5 layers of cement-surkhi plaster have replaced much of the red-blue ceiling with ornamental incised plaster work. The crypt of the tomb as well as the courtyard is today occupied.
In 2015, 3D Laser Scanning of the monument was done and measured drawings were prepared, as a precursor to any repair/replacement as part of this conservation project. Stone by stone damage assessment of facade stones with relief work has been carried out. Architectural documentation of the existing plaster patterns on the ceiling was carried out to determine the extent to which original patterns can be determined, following which a team of master-craftsmen led by conservation architect restored the internal decorative ceiling.
The external red sandstone panels with marble inlay work have been extensively damaged in past repairs with the insertion of cement and marble inlay of inappropriate sizes. Following the documentation and assessment of pattern, replacement panels are presently being prepared.
Conservation works on the structure have included removal of inappropriate additions made during 2002-05 and will only employ principles established for the Humayun’s Tomb conservation.
Simultaneous effort needs to be made to relocate those residing within Atgah Khan’s Tomb and for which the Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation has agreed to provide alternate dwelling units.
The project has demonstrated a successful model of public-private partnership for conservation. Unlike in the developed world where there is significant civil society engagement with conservation effort, conservation of national monuments has to date been restricted to the government agencies. The ongoing AKTC project is the first such initiative where monuments of national importance are being conserved by a private philanthropic group.
This project is being undertaken in Public-Private Partnership between the ASI and AKTC as part of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, which pioneered a return to craft-based approach to conservation in India, thus ensuring revival of craft skills, creating almost half a million days of employment for craftsmanship and respecting the original builders’ intention.
Department of Archaeology, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, which is responsible for protection, conservation and maintenance of monuments in Delhi, which beyond the purview of Archaeological Survey of India, Government of India. Following an earlier grant by Department of Archaeology in 2011, which was utilized for the conservation of the tomb of Sayyid Yasin standing in the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb Complex, in 2013 conservation works commenced on the conservation of the 16th century Azimganj Serai. The grant from State Archaeology has been utilized for the conservation of this historic and earliest Mughal period Serai in Delhi, which will revive its lost culturalsignificance and architectural integrity of this historic serai.