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Work on first sunken museum at Humayun's Tomb to begin Tuesday

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Work will begin Tuesday on the construction of the "country's first" sunken museum at the iconic Humayun's Tomb site, which after its completion in 2017 will showcase the heritage of the Nizamuddin Area over the last seven centuries.

Inspired from the medieval baolis (water tanks) of northern India, the underground site museum, with a built-up area of 9000 sq m, will marry modern 21st century architecture with Mughal-era craftsmanship in its design.

Expected to be completed in 30 months, the project has been pledged a fund of Rs 49 crore from the Tourism Ministry.

Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma will lay its foundation stone on Tuesday in the presence of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) which is building the museum, on behalf of the ASI, as part of the urban renewal initiative, says, it will be located at the entrance zone of the World Heritage Complex and would serve as a bridge between the three sites of Nizamuddin, Sunder Nursery and the 16th century Tomb.

"The principal structure where the galleries will be located is 6 m below the ground level while the gallery block rises 4 ft above the ground level and the roof is treated like a mughal garden," Project Director, AKTC, Ratish Nanda told PTI.

The museum will include galleries, library, seminar halls, crafts centre and cafeteria, among others.

The finial of the Mughal monument, which was knocked off in last year's storm will be its "centre-piece", he said.

"Besides, several other finials, sandstone and marble elements, terracotta pipes, over 400 earth toys found at the site of nearby Isa Khan's tomb, among others will also be housed," he added.

Nanda said, the design is inspired from the baolis, which are sunken and yet allow natural lighting and ventilation.

"This is to ensure visual linkages between important monuments located around the museum are retained...Also, the experience of an underground museum would be unique, as this would indeed be the country's first sunken museum."

"It will serve to interpret the historical development of the Nizamuddin Area over the last seven centuries. And, it is also expected that at least 100 objects related to the early Mughal era as well as the pluralistic Sufi traditions would also be displayed there," he said.

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First Published: Sun, April 05 2015. 12:48 IST