Barakhamba, a 16th century Lodi-era monument near Nizamuddin Basti, was thrown open to public on Saturday after conservation and landscape restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). It was inaugurated by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice-chairman Balvinder Kumar.
Barakhamba gets its name from the 12 pillars that stand on its four sides. The monument is located on the eastern end of Lodi Road near the Sabz Burj roundabout and is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It stands in a park owned by the DDA and is within the Nizamuddin heritage zone designated by the Delhi Master Plan as well as the buffer zone of Humayun’s Tomb.
AKTC Projects Director Ratish Nanda said the monument is the only one of its kind in Delhi, with a “rare plan comprising five domes”.
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“In 2014, the AKTC had received a grant of Rs 80 lakh from DDA’s Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation to undertake conservation at the monument. We followed a crafts-based approach in restoring the monument. Layers of cement applied during past repairs had caused extensive damage to the monument. We removed that first,” Nanda said.
Later, four layers of lime and mortar were applied. AKTC chief engineer Rajpal Singh said a variety of traditional binding materials, including jaggery, ground pulses, molasses and egg whites were used to prepare the right mixture.
“The first layer is of coarse lime. Subsequent layers were then added. The final layer of lime and mortar was prepared with marble dust and egg white to give the monument a smooth finish and mimic the appearance of expensive marble. This will also serve as a protective shield for the inner layers,” Singh said.
Sandstone flooring was then provided in the monument. Sandstone pathways, with foundations three feet deep, were paved across the garden. AKTC has also provided stone benches to promote the restored monument and its garden as a public space for residents.
The AKTC had earlier developed an outer park where the Basti mela is held, a zenana park for women, a central park at the basti and a triangular park in the area.