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World Heritage Day Celebrated at Re-Opening Ceremony of Tomb Complexes in Delhi

On April 18, World Heritage Day, the sixteenth-century garden tombs of Isa Khan Niyazi and Bu Halima were re-opened to the public by India’s Minister of Culture, Chandresh Kumari Katoch, and Bonnie Burnham, President of World Monuments Fund.

Since 2010, both tomb complexes, part of the Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site, have undergone painstaking conservation and landscape restoration carried out by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture as part of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative with support from the Archaeological Survey of India and World Monuments Fund.

In order to carry out a model conservation initiative, the conservation and landscape restoration was preceded by a year-long program of documentation, structural condition assessment, and archival research on the basis of which a conservation plan was prepared. The plan was then reviewed by a group of national and international experts prior to the beginning of work.

For work at Isa Khan's tomb complex, the restoration of the profuse ornamentation as well as India’s earliest known sunken garden was considered a priority, while at Bu Halima's tomb complex the reconstruction of collapsed portions of the garden enclosure wall using traditional materials, tools, and craft traditions was a priority.

Stone carvers, masons, plasterers, tile makers, carpenters, and gardeners have worked alongside engineers and landscape and conservation architects to restore the glory of these sixteenth-century monuments. Removal of inappropriate twentieth-century repairs using materials such as cement concrete have also been undertaken as these were causing severe deterioration and disfiguring the historic character these elements of this World Heritage Site.

Also, on the occasion of World Heritage Day, 2000 school children from 25 Delhi schools were given guided heritage walks of the World Heritage Site and participated in craft demonstration workshops.