Nearly 100 master masons with chisels have begun to recast the weathered stones and crumbling lime facades of the 16th century mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Humayun, a royal family tomb that is home to 160 graves.
The tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is getting a makeover to resemble its original state with a unique not-for-profit conservation project. At the core of the structural renovation project is the restoration of 42 arched bays on the enclosure (outer ramparts) of the tomb, which have collapsed, and 68 arched alcoves on a lower level.
The stonework of the terrace and the elevated plinth in the forecourt have been relaid as well. The tomb was known to be have been commissioned by Emperor Humayun's wife Hamida who is also entombed in the mausoleum along with five Mughal princes.
The red-and-white tomb cast in sandstone and marble was constructed 1565 – 72 A.D. on a bank of the Yamuna. Its impressive design and facade are typical of symmetrical Timurid architecture.
The work has been inspired by a 19th century photograph of Humayun's Tomb, which shows the original structure.
The project has trained conservation professionals and craftsmen from the countryside and has generated livelihood to nearly 700 people in the Nizamuddin neighborhood of New Delhi.
*Elements of this story excerpted from “Humayun’s Tomb gets 16th century makeover” – The Weekend Leader