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Commencement of Conservation Work at L’timad-ud-Daulah

The mausoleum L’timad-ud-Daulah is located in the Mughal Gardens in Agra, a WMF 50th Anniversary Priority Site. Constructed between 1622 and 1628, it represents a transition from the first phase of monumental Mughal Architecture, built primarily from red sandstone, to the subsequent phase that used pietra-dura on white marble. L’timad-ud-Daulah is thus a building representative of a paradigm shift in construction styles. Over the decades, several attempts have been made at conserving L’timad-ud-Daulahand the building has seen many interventions.

The next six months will see the implementation of conservation proposals for L’timad-ud-Daulah, drawn up as part of the project, Mughal River front Gardens of Agra, a partnership of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and World Monuments Fund. Preparation of the conservation proposals were preceded by intensive studies of the tomb and its precinct. Archival research, documentation, condition mapping, and analysis were undertaken for every aspect of the site. In the first phase, work on the riverfront cells, pathways, and water channels have been prioritized. The garden restoration is also a vital component in this first phase. The second phase will look at conservation work on the main mausoleum and other buildings within the complex such as the monumental gateways and the forecourt. Conservation of the paintings and stone inlay will also be critical components in the second phase. The project in its ultimate phase will include the integrated development of the surrounding community and provision of visitor facilities and an interpretation center.

The conservation proposals, prepared by WMF consultants, were prioritized on the basis of a risk value matrix and were reviewed by the Technical Committee, an independent panel of experts. The prioritized items were approved for implementation by ASI in April 2015. Conservation of the riverfront cells at the lower level of L’timad-ud-Daulah commenced on the morning of May 16, 2015. Dr. Bhuvan Vikrama, Superintending Archaeologist, Agra Circle, ASI, followed the ancient Indian ritual of breaking a coconut to invoke blessings and good luck and to ensure that the work concludes satisfactorily.

The work was started with the opening of the basement cells in order to remove all accumulated flood deposits. These cells had been closed with brick masonry and plastered over several times in the past. Dr. Bhuvan Vikrama, Superintending Archaeologist and other ASI officials, Ajaydeep Singh, Conservation Architect, P B S Sengar, Site Director, WMF, and Sanyam Rajdeva, PCT, WMF, were present during the occassion. The presence of students from the Institute of Archaeology, Delhi, in Agra for conservation training at the site on this occasion was significant. Later, the students were briefed about the project and shown round the site by P B S Sengar. The project coordination team will ensure a high level of supervision for all work being undertaken at the site