The initiative is a project of the Aga Khan Development Network

Nila Gumbad which stands adjoining Humayun’s Tomb, is the earliest Mughal period monument in Delhi. It is also of high significance owing to the unique tilework that ornaments the façade of the structure.

Although this earliest Mughal era structure in Delhi stands adjacent to the Humayun’s Tomb Garden, in the 1980s a road was built bifurcating Nila Gumbad from the Humayun’s Tomb site. Luckily, a solution for this challenge was found: land provided by the Railways has allowed the road to be relocated to the east of Nila Gumbad, thereby restoring historic linkages. Conservation and Landscape restoration works, supported by Tata Trusts commenced in 2011.

Impact

The conservation and landscape works at Nila Gumbad have ensured long term preservation of this earliest Mughal-era structure. The conservation activities will lead to an improved understanding of early Mughal architecture to the visitors, students and researchers. It has also revived the lost traditional craftsmanship of tile making and also enabled the youth from the Basti to continue tile making for the other monuments in the country. Conservation works at Nila Gumbad has not only created over 25,000 man-days of work for skilled craftsmen, but also demonstrated the urban approach towards conservation of historic sites.

  • Restoring the historic access from Humayun’s Tomb to allow the millions of visitors to see this earliest Mughal era structure in Delhi.
  • Conservation works on this earliest Mughal-era tomb in Delhi and restoring its historic linkages with the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb
  • Conservation works have led to a long-term preservation of Nila Gumbad - a significant monument of national importance, and its environ.
  • This significant site and its attached garden, rooted in history, will soon become available to the over one million annual visitors to the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb. Surprising as it may seem, this space has been segregated and neglected for several decades and as such has been inaccessible to the visiting public.
  • Nila Gumbad was originally surrounded by a walled enclosure and is recorded to have been originally entered through a large gateway on the south - both have now disappeared. The conservation of Nila Gumbad and its enclosure wall will also restore the architectural integrity of the Humayun’s Tomb Complex.
  • Conservation works will lead to eventual proposal to UNESCO to expand the World Heritage Site boundaries to include the Nila Gumbad complex.
  • Conservation works carried out using traditional tools and building techniques have generated employment for master craftsmen. It is expected that at least 15,000 man days of works has been generated to implement the conservation and landscape works.
  • The conservation effort will help towards furthering the knowledge on tile preparation and usage gained during the Humayun’s Tomb conservation.
  • Conservation works are expected to lead to new discoveries that will enable scholars to better understand the development of tomb forms in Mughal tradition that commenced at Nila Gumbad and reached the zenith at Taj Mahal.
  • Demonstrate 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 non-governmental group.
Our Team
  • Archaeological Survey of India
  • Aga Khan Trust for Culture
  • Tata Trusts
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