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  • Nizamuddin, Delhi: Interior of Chausath Khamba after conservation by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The tomb was built in AD 1623-24 for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Nizamuddin Basti wins UNESCO Awards for Excellence and Sustainability

Delhi, India, 3 December 2021 – For the second year running the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has won two important awards from UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific regional office – for its holistic urban revitalisation of Delhi’s historic Nizamuddin Basti.  The prizes include: 

- The 2021 Award for Excellence, the highest level of achievement in the conservation category

- The 2021 Award for Special Recognition for Sustainable Development

Since 2000, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme has been “recognising the efforts of private individuals and organisations in restoring, conserving and transforming structures and buildings of distinct heritage value in the region”. 


Aerial view of Delhi's historic Nizamuddin Basti.

In 2020, it introduced the Special Recognition for Sustainable Development and “an updated set of Awards criteria to highlight the contribution of cultural heritage to sustainable development within the broader framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

For this year’s awards Ms Duong Bich Hanh, Chief of Culture Unit at UNESCO Bangkok, remarked: “The diversity of heritage typologies and countries where the winning projects come from are truly remarkable. The number of projects that have successfully addressed various aspects of the sustainable development agenda is also commendable.”


Desilting the Barapullah Nallah (stream) that flows along the Nizamuddin Basti and improving the landscape around it has provided the community a healthier environment and much-needed green space.

The Jury applauded the Nizamuddin Basti project for its “outstanding achievement in placing heritage at the heart of the sustainable development agenda” and noted that “through an innovative People-Public-Private Partnership model, the project overcame major socioeconomic challenges and improved health, education and well-being, particularly for women and youth”.

The Jury further commented: “It is notable that the development initiatives preceded the conservation efforts, which encompassed the meticulous restoration of over 20 historic monuments clustered around the 14th-century mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. From conserving monuments to reviving local crafts, to improving the urban environment and creating new jobs, the project has brought about the revitalisation of the living historic urban landscape in its truest sense.”


Master craftsmen employed traditional tools and techniques in the conservation effort.

For more information, please contact

Ratish Nanda at

About the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation

About the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme and awards received

About the Nizamuddin Renewal site