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.