Conservation of 16th century Mughal-era Tomb with support of US Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Preservation
Abutting the Batashewala complex in the east and situated to the north of Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site stands a domed tomb on a raised platform and known as ‘Mughal Tomb’. Archival photographs and descriptions led us to believe that this was formerly an enclosed garden-tomb and clearance of debris revealed the entire northern, western stretches of the wall as well and a majority of the southern section. In keeping with the OUV of the World Heritage Site, within the buffer zone of which this structure stood uptill 2015, and to provide security from encroachments which had occurred to the north, it was agreed to reconstruct the enclosure wall. In 2015, UNESCO approved the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and recognized that Humayun’s Garden Tomb is part of a unique ensemble of 16th-century garden tombs. Eleven additional monuments have been added to the revised World Heritage Site, which includes the Mughal Tomb-Garden.
The restoration of the 11-acre “Batashewala complex” – undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India with a grant from the U.S Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. The complex includes three 16th century garden-tombs, including the tomb of Mirza Muzaffar Hussain, grand-nephew of Emperor Humayun and son-in-law of Emperor Akbar. The Complex, which is adjacent to the Humayun’s Tomb world heritage site, had suffered from decades of neglect and inappropriate development.
The conservation efforts on the complex by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture began in 2011, following a U.S$ 750,000.00 grant from the U.S Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. The multi disciplinary team worked towards reversing the damage through a painstaking, craft-based effort aimed at restoring the historic architectural character of the site. Traditional materials and building techniques were employed in order to replace 20th century alterations carried out with modern materials, such as cement. Portions of the structures and the enclosure walls – demolished in 1989 to create a camp site – were reconstructed. The Mughal char-bagh landscape design of the two enclosed gardens was restored. Trees favoured by the Mughals – mango, neem, citrus, amongst others – were planted.