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Restored Batashewala garden tomb complex rises from ruins

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

After suffering decades of neglect and inappropriate development, the Mughal-era Batashewala garden tomb complex, neighbouring the Humayun's Tomb was today thrown open to the public amid the soulful strains of Qawwali.

With the 11-acre complex painstakingly restored over a period of four years, the government now also seeks to expand the World Heritage Site zone to include this restored complex.

"April 18 was declared as a World Heritage Day in 1983 by UNESCO and the day serves to bring to focus the diversity and vulnerability of monuments and built heritage sites, not just in or but around the world," Secretary of Ministry of Culture Ravindra Singh said.

Addressing a gathering of heritage enthusiasts from all walks of life, during the launch ceremony at the restored monument's site, he said, "It could not have been a more opportune moment to declare this tomb open than on World Heritage Day."

"The site forms important part of the 16th century necropolis adjacent to the dargah (shrine) of 14th century Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.

"There are 29 monuments in the (Nizamuddin) area, and dargah's presence here is the central...The three tombs present at the restored site here are of national importance...And, this year we will seek to include this (Batashewala complex) within the extended World Heritage Site zone," he said.

The site includes an ensemble of two 16th century tombs, namely -- Bada Batashewala Tomb and Chhota Batashewal Tomb -- and an unknown tomb.

The Bada Batashewala Tomb is the tomb of Mirza Muzzafar Hussain, grand nephew of Emperor Humayun and son-in-law of Emperor Akbar, and Chotta Batashewala Tomb, the ruins of Batashewala Tomb.

The restoration work has been done by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of (ASI) and a USD 750,000 grant from the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.

"Earlier the US government had made a contribution to the Sunderwala Burj using the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation...It is our largest collaboration till date and we are honoured to participate in it.

"Such efforts allow us to show our respect for other cultures by protecting their tradition...Since 2001, we have completed 14 such projects," Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in India, Michael Pelletier said.

First Published: Sat, April 18 2015. 22:57 IST