Humayun's Tomb Complex Restoration
Delhi, India
Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

The tomb of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun, one of the twenty-seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, was the first of the monumental mausoleums to be built in the country. The chahar-bagh, or four-part paradise garden, is the earliest existing example of the Mughal garden tomb. The Tomb and Garden are considered one of the precursors of the Taj Mahal.

Emperor Humayun was the son of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. His tomb was built over nearly a decade beginning in about 1565. Influenced by Persian architecture, the Tomb stands on a 120-square-metre platform and reaches a height of forty-seven metres. Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the earliest example of the use of red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities.

In the latter years of the 20th century, the Humayun’s Tomb site suffered from a condition that had befallen many World Heritage Sites. Its gardens were worn, its masonry cracked, and the stonework broken or incomplete, the ruinous appearance resulting in few visitors to the site. The competition for resources made restoration of cultural sites an unpalatable position for many authorities. The challenge, therefore, was to find ways for cultural sites – many of great beauty and tourist interest – to sustain themselves. Around the same time, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture set out to prove that heritage sites could not only sustain themselves, but could become catalysts for the revitalisation of historic districts. In India, AKTC began by restoring the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, as a gift to India by His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of independence.

Following the completed garden restoration in 2004, AKTC expanded its activities to encompass an urban renewal project that comprises the adjoining areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Sundar Nursery and the Humayun’s Tomb complex. At the centre of the project is Humayun’s Tomb, built in the 1560’s to a far grander scale than any other earlier tomb in the Islamic world, which was the precursor of the famed Taj Mahal. Once, Humayun’s Tomb stood in isolation on the outskirts of the city, but today is surrounded by the city. It continues to be an auspicious place because the Mughal builders chose to build Humayun’s Tomb at this site owing to its close proximity to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Several other garden-tombs were built abutting Humayun’s Tomb in the 16th century, including seven within Sundar Nursery. 

Humayun’s Tomb Complex and its surrounding areas cover almost twenty-four hectares of land and include several significant monuments, such as Isa Khan’s Tomb enclosure, Afsarwala Tomb and Mosque, the Arab Serai, Bu Halima’s Tomb and several monumental gateways.

The project vision is to link up the Tomb complex with the site where the Nila Gumbad, a seventeenth-century tomb, also restored by AKTC, is located, just outside the eastern enclosure wall, and Sunder Nursery, which the Trust is converting into a park. Together, this ensemble will create a vast area of monuments, green space, facilities and services.

Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Mathura Road, Nizamuddin, South Delhi, Delhi, India
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Built between 1562-1572
Inaugurated in 2013
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Humayun's Tomb
Mausoleum of Humayun
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