The initiative is a project of the Aga Khan Development Network

Humayun’s garden-tomb is built on a monumental scale, with no precedence in the Islamic world. The garden-tomb truly represents Mughal innovation with its monumental scale, and its garden setting representing the Quranic ideal. The monumental scale achieved here was to become the characteristic of Mughal imperial projects, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Within the complex also stand seven Mughal era garden-tombs which together form a unique ensemble of 16th century garden-tombs.

Following the successful garden restoration undertaken here, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture commenced conservation works on the mausoleum in 2007 with co-funding from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and in partnership of the Archaeological Survey of India.

In the latter years of the 20th century, the Humayun’s Tomb site suffered from a condition that had befallen many World Heritage Sites. Its gardens were worn, its masonry cracked, and the stonework broken or incomplete, the ruinous appearance resulting in few visitors to the site. Conservation works have aimed at enhancing the cultural significance of the World Heritage Site by restoring the architectural integrity and authenticity of craftsmanship.

Conservation Process
Conservation Challenges

Never before had Independent India seen such a major effort as was being planned here. Also, unlike similar effort in other parts of the world, where public access to sites is stopped for the duration of conservation works, putting a stop to public access could not even be a consideration at Humayun’s Tomb owing to the almost 2 million annual visitors.

This was also the first instance of a private agency undertaking conservation works on any of India’s protected monuments with all conservation works commenced only on a formal approval of the ASI Director General. Lack of precedent for public-private partnerships was itself a significant challenge as systems needed to be developed to ensure timely and informed decision-making.

The conservation of Humayun’s Tomb has been carried out in a unique set of circumstances wherein the role of traditional building craftsmanship is paramount as is the role of a multi-disciplinary team in the research, documentation, establishing the conservation policy, planning, supervision, dissemination of proposed works and learning. With the Mughal details uncovered, conserved, and restored where these had been obliterated by 20th-century repairs, the Mughal intention has been once again revealed in parts.

Click here to see the list of conservation works carried out
Lower Plinth
Lower Plinth Lower Plinth

Large blocks of quartzite stone had unequally settled and later been covered with cement
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Lower Arcade Plasterwork
work of Lower Arcade work of Lower Arcade

The architectural integrity of the chambers and alcoves restored to original glory
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Lower Cells
Lower Cells Lower Cells

Repairing deep cracks running perpendicular to the vaults in almost all cells
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Mausoleum’s Façade
Restoring Main Façade Restoring Main Façade

Age, neglect, inappropriate repairs and water seepage from roofs led to facade
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Canopies Canopies

Tilework on the canopies was mostly lost and in parts covered over with cement plaster.
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Terrace Repairs Terrace Repairs

1 million kilograms of cement concrete was removed
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Dome Dome

760 sq. m of the external marble dome surface was repaired
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Main Hall
Main Hall Main Hall

Water seepage from the roof, discolouration of the 20th-century cement plaster and repetitive coats of lime-wash had led to its historically inappropriate architectural character
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Upper Plinth
Upper Plinth Upper Plinth

Original patterns and slopes had been altered and many of the sandstone blocks had disintegrated or very thin stone slabs were used in earlier repairs.
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Entrance Chamber
Stone & Plasterwork Restoration Stone & Plasterwork Restoration

Finial Finial

The damaged finial was replaced with a new finial
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Humayun Tomb Conservation
Conservation works carried out at Humayun’s Tomb

The Humayun’s Tomb Conservation is the first ever conservation initiative undertaken by any non-governmental organization in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India at any of India’s World Heritage Sites. Working on a World Heritage Site where integrity and authenticity had been compromised by past repairs posed a significant challenge as did the need to reconstruct collapsed portions of structures that had partially collapsed a century ago. Similarly, major works have been undertaken to halt the accelerated deterioration that had set in as a result of past repairs with modern materials. With the Mughal details uncovered, conserved, restored where these had been obliterated by 20th century repairs, the Mughal grandeur has been once again revealed in parts.


Aga Khan Trust for Culture, with co-funding of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India undertook the conservation of Humayun’s Tomb and associated structures during 2007-2013 and provided an opportunity to establish a model conservation process.

The conservation effort undertaken at Humayun’s Tomb had no precedence in terms of scale and scope in Independent India. It has also been India’s first ever privately funded and implemented conservation programme at any of our national monuments. The success of the project has demonstrated that conservation of our nations built heritage can thus be leveraged to fulfill development and economic objectives. For this to have a significant impact, conservation action needs to become more main stream and civil society involvement through public-private partnerships - to ensure our monuments and sites receive both the required funding and expertise and conservation action aids in meeting development goals.

The partnership with Tata Trusts made possible this major conservation effort. Similarly, the restoration of the gold finial on the dome was possible due to the partnership with Titan Company.