Dilliwaalon! Humayun’s Tomb is Now All Redecked and Ready to Wow
By Nishi Jain On 18 Sep, 2013 At 06:02 PM | Categorized As India | With 0 Comments

From tomb to tomb,
I chew the ash of prayers.
Won’t poetry happen to me? 

~ Agha Shahid Ali

The incredible has been achieved. It took six years and 2,000 man-days of complicated repair work to restore the precious Humayun’s Tomb. But the work is done now, and you will witness the sparkling restored Tomb in all its glory the next time you visit it. Today, PM Manmohan Singh re-inaugurates it.

The lawns are manicured, fountains installed, domes and chhatris repaired, the interiors have been re-painted and the complex cleaned, but care has been taken to retain the originality of the structure as much as possible. Yes, welcome back Humayun.

Built in 1569, by Haji Begum, Humayun’s first wife, to honour her emperor husband, the tomb was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993. It was the model for Shah Jahan’s beloved Taj Mahal, who they say ordered the hands of all artisans to be chopped off.

Who did it?

The Aga Khan Trust in collaboration with the ASI started the ambitious project “Humayun’s Tomb - Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Initiative” to restore the monument and to uplift the neighbourhood area too. They were funded by the TATA group.

Skilled Muslim artisans, masons, stone-carvers, sculptors, tile-makers, and plasterers were at it for six long years. Most of them were the residents of Nizamuddin Basti who were either already masters of their craft or were local artisans trained in heritage conservation skills.

How it was done and why it was no small feat?

The large-scale restoration was a daunting task. Perhaps as challenging as building the monument. Care had to be taken to retain the originality of the structure. The modern cement plaster that was used a few years ago to repair the tomb had to be taken off. It took the artisans four years of hit-and-trial just to match the original colours on the tiles of the roof canopies.

The Social Welfare Touch


The Nizamuddin Basti inhabitants have a rich lineage of culture and tradition but not the necessary means to further it. The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal project aimed at providing employment to the craftsmen and also trained locals in heritage conservation. They will be hence be employed in the restoration of other monuments around.

The project saw improvements in basic infrastructure, and sanitation and health facilities in the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. Parks were landscaped, houses and streets manicured; performance areas have been developed for Qawwalis.

Nishi Jain

About - Nishi Jain spent some precious years of her life studying English literature, editing novels, and writing newspaper articles. Then one day, as she was sitting under a tree with no branches, a rotten pancake fell on her head from the window above and she had her Newtonian moment. From then on, all she does is eat pancakes, write, and profess fake love to pastry chefs.

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