Chausath Khamba Conservation
Delhi, India
Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

Chausath Khamba is a 16th century tomb of Mirza Aziz Kokaltash built during the Akbari era and is unique in both architectural design and ornamentation. The white marble structure is called Chaunsath Khambha because of the 64 columns which support the roof of the hall. It stands within the largest open space within Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and is entered through an impressive gateway located on the north-eastern end of the complex.

The monument was enclosed within a rubble masonry wall in the 1960s to protect it from vandalism and encroachment. This wall segregated the monument from its forecourt, which was an integral element of the original design. Following the conservation works undertaken in 2010, this wall has now been demolished and replaced with a protective metal fence that allows visibility of the monument. The large forecourt has been paved, in a formal design, reflective of the Mughal style. This required the existing paving to be removed, though portions of the stonework could eventually be re-used in the new design.

The area comprising of Chausath Khamba, Urs Mahal courtyard and Mirza Ghalib Tomb, now form the largest open space in Nizamuddin Basti. The three presently segregated sites have been integrated by the landscape design thereby enhancing the cultural significance of the place and allow appropriate community usage - like the Sufi Qawaali music festival, Jashn-e-Khusrau, hosted by AKTC in 2010. The landscape works have significantly enhanced the historical character of this space and rehabilitated it as a potential venue for community events and Qawwali performances.

To support the conservation and restoration of Chausath Khamba, Germany signed an agreement with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on 13th April 2011. Chausath Khamba has suffered severe decay due to excessive water seepage and inappropriate repairs works in the 20th century. The water seepage has resulted in the iron clamps rusting leading to their expansion and resulting in damage to the marble. Also, in the 20th century, layers of concrete have been added to the roof in an inappropriate attempt to prevent water seepage into the building below, these layers will need to be carefully manually removed to restore the original roof levels and reduce the enormous extra dead-load on the building and ensure quick water drainage from the outlets on the roof that have been partially blocked as a result of the extra concrete.

Conservation of the tomb will be coupled with facade and housing improvement of the surrounding residences.

Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Mathura Road, Nizamuddin, South Delhi, Delhi, India
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Associated Names
Part of Site
Associated Collections
16th century, restored 2007-ongoing
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Variant Names
Chaunsath Khamba
Mirza 'Aziz Kotaltash Tomb
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