Indo-Asian News Service
Hindustani Times
New Delhi, April 15

Renovated Humayun's tomb becomes disabled-friendly

Mughal emperor Humayun's mausoleum here, said to be the Indian subcontinent's first garden tomb, reopens Tuesday after a $650,000 (Rs 31 million) facelift that has added scintillating lights, refreshed fountains and made the tourist site disabled-friendly.

The 16th century monument was renovated under a programme taken up jointly by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Aga Khan Foundation for Culture and the Oberoi Group of Hotels.

A tourism ministry spokesman said: "A ramp has been built at the entrance of the garden. Bridges have been built across the water channels. This not only adds to the beauty of the monument but also makes it more accessible to people in wheelchairs."

The monument is a major tourist attraction and lies close to the shrines of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and mystic poet Amir Khusrau.

Built in 1570, the red sandstone and marble tomb is said to have inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal in Agra by Humayun's grandson Shah Jahan.

Tourism ministry officials said about 2,500 trees have been planted in 12 hectares of the lawn ever since the renovation work started two years ago. The fountains have been refilled with water and a rainwater harvesting system has been put in place.

There were some wells in the garden that dried up and had fallen to ruin due to years of neglect. All these have been brought to life again, the officials said. About 120 groundwater pits have been recharged and a new water circulation system has been made for the walkway channels, they added.

Second Mughal emperor Humayun's wife Hamida Banu Begam had built the tomb at cost of Rs.1.5 million. The lofty mausoleum is in the centre of the structure and rises from a podium faced with a series of cubicles with arched openings.