April 07, 2020
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The Delhi-Mumbai Gazette

Paradise regained; One minute please and Let's get to funky town

The Delhi-Mumbai Gazette
The Delhi-Mumbai Gazette
Paradise Regained
It’s a few degrees cooler and greener in the capital city, and it’s a monumental change that’s playing misty with the mercury. For the paradise gardens at Humayun’s Tomb have just been restored, along with its water channels that are flowing again after 400 years. Says famed architect Charles Correa who flew in for the inauguration, "Delhi, like just another Texas oil-town, suddenly transforms when you come upon wonderful buildings like Humayun’s Tomb that remind you of Rome." Historian Mushirul Hasan says, "It’s wonderful to see the tomb return to its glory, the chahar-bagh garden is central to the Mughal concept of life and death."

Making all the lush difference to the 500 pass-bearers and 1,000 daily visitors who walk the red-earth pathways; orange, lemon and pomegranate trees have been planted along the lawns. To recreate the landscape during Humayun’s era, references from the Baburnama and Akbarnama have inspired the planting of hibiscus, chandni and harsingar flowers. But the most magical aspect lies in its indiscernible sloping done in minute measures, of 1 cm per 50 metres. Says Balbir Singh, the archaeology engineer who helped conserve the Bamiyan Buddhas in the ’70s, "Excavations, earth removal, stone laying, all were done by hand." The only modern consideration was wheelchair access.

Not only one of India’s 23 World Heritage monuments and inspiration of the Taj Mahal, the garden-project at Humayun’s Tomb is asi’s first privately funded restoration effort in India. Sponsored by the $650,000 from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. And from this week on, Humayun’s eternal residence, the earliest living example of a fabled Mughal garden tomb opens to all. And at just Rs 10 per entry, which includes 400 years of history scented by fruit blossoms, paradise has just been regained at the price of a sweet birdsong.

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