On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Indian independance, AKTC decided to sponsor the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb Gardens - a four-part paradise garden (chahâr-bâgh), where the gardens are divided into quarters by raised causeways. The quadrants are divided, in turn, into eight plots, each with walkways. At the intersection of these walkways are octagonal or rectangular pools. They represent the earliest existing example of the Mughal garden tomb and an important public open space.This first privately funded restoration of a World Heritage Site in India was completed in March 2003 through the joint efforts of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the aegis of the National Culture Fund. The objective of the project was to restore the gardens, pathways, fountains and water channels surrounding Humayun’s Tomb according to the original plans of the builders. The preservation of historic elements required archival and archaeological research, as well as close attention to the living and renewable landscape elements. Site works encompassed a variety of disciplines, including archaeological excavation, the application of conservation science and hydraulic engineering.
The restoration project included the following main elements: reinstating the walkways and conserving the edging stones, repair, extension and reactivation of the irrigation system, establishing water sources for the water channels and irrigation system, including a pump station for a water-recycling system, conserving, repairing and rebuilding the water channel system, re-leveling the planted zones and revitalising them with species and arrangements that conform to the customs and patterns of Mughal sources.These activities were backed up with support for research that informs the conservation and restoration process, contributes to the development of educational materials for use in schools of architecture, conservation and heritage management, as well as for visitors to the Tomb. As part of the implementation process, a Management Plan was established to ensure proper long-term maintenance.
The completed restoration of Humayun’s Tomb Gardens returns a significant amount of enhanced green space to the city and the surrounding community, with its constituent parts returned to their historically authentic format. The project is expected to increase interest in and visitation to the Tomb, the Gardens and the associated visitor facilities (including parking), which together form a large complex next to a major urban highway in Delhi. In serving the local residents of Nizamuddin district as a community green area on one level, and the population of Greater Delhi as well as tourists on another level, Humayun’s Tomb and Gardens has rekindled interest in the rich history of Mughal rule.