After six years and 1,75,000 man hours of restoration work, the tomb of Rahim Khan, the commander-in-chief of the Mughal army, in Nizamuddin will be opened to the public on Thursday. The completion ceremony of Rahim’s Tomb, as it is commonly known, will be presided over by Union Culture & Tourism Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel, on Thursday, which also marks Rahim’s birth anniversary.
Rahim was also a poet par excellence and his poetry and dohas are compared with those by Bhakti poets Surdas, Tulsidas and Kabir.
Interestingly, it is the mausoleum he built in 1598 for his wife, Mah Banu, inspired by the neighbouring Humayun’s Tomb, that inspired the architecture of the Taj Mahal half a century later. Upon his death, Rahim was also buried in this mausoleum.
It was in 2014 that the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) — in partnership with InterGlobe Foundation and ASI — commenced a six-year conservation effort. The physical revival included repairs to the major damaged structures on the interior and exterior of the mausoleum dalans, canopies, dome, facade and landscape, along with the wall and ceiling surfaces. The landscape around Rahim’s tomb has also been restored to its original slopes and height. Notably, the conservation of the dome has been done with just a symbolic addition of marble cladding.
It is said that the monument’s double dome was originally clad with marble, which is said to have been quarried from here for use in Safdarjung’s tomb in the mid-18th century.
Ratish Nanda, CEO of AKTC, said, “Even though several peer reviews suggested completing the marble cladding on the dome, on the advice of the ASI, restoration of marble cladding was limited to the base. This served the dual purpose of strengthening the base as well as to indicate to visitors the original finish of the dome.”
Rahim ornamented his wife’s mausoleum with diverse motifs in plaster and stone. These include both geometric and floral patterns commonly seen in mausoleums, and also swastika and peacock motifs at several places. In the 1920s, the ASI provided masonry support to overhanging sandstone blocks on the facade, thus saving the structure from collapse. This repair work, which was done using Delhi Quartzite stone, has been retained during the present conservation effort.
Rohini Bhatia, Chairperson, InterGlobe Foundation, said, “In addition to physical restoration, we are also establishing the relevance of sites and creating awareness among communities towards the need for preservation of culture and heritage.”
The company has now signed a pact with the Ministry of Tourism to adopt the monument under the government’s 2017 ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme, and will take care of utilities and facilities for the next four-five years.
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