Conservation works on Chausath Khamba were carried out in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India and with support from German Embassy.
Chausath Khamba was built in AD 1623 - 24 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of Mughal Emperor Akbar. It is so called on account of the 64 (chausath) monolithic marble pillars (khamba) and stands in close proximity to his father, Atgah Khan’s tomb, at the edge of the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
The tomb enclosure is entered through a lofty arched gateway and has a large sunken forecourt. The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure. The plan for Chausath Khamba could have been inspired from the wooden garden pavilions from Persia - such as the Chihil Sutun, and in turn, the Chausath Khamba seems to have inspired the architectural design for Emperor Shahjahan’s Diwan-i-Aam, Hall of Audience.
Each facade of the square structure has five marble arches inset with marble jaallis or lattice screens and a doorway in the central arch providing access to the tomb. The column capitals are intricately carved with simple yet striking pendentives bridging the square floor plan to the circular dome above.
The area comprising of the Chaunsath Khamba, Urs Mahal courtyard and Mirza Ghalib Tomb together form the largest open space in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. The courtyards have been developed with the vision of it being the event sehan of the basti, to promote and introduce its rich artistic and cultural tradition.
The manner in which this complicated conservation work has been undertaken bears remarkable tributes to Indian master craftsmen. The stone carvers, using traditional tools and building techniques took eight months to successfully repair the first dome – on the northwest corner – thus establishing the repair methodology for the mausoleum. The stones are dismantled ring-by-ring under careful supervision and stacked as per their numbers and respective ring. Traditional material and manual techniques of stone dressing and indenting are being used to maintain the authentic interior appearance of the domes.