The initiative is a project of the Aga Khan Development Network
SABZ BURJ Conservation

Built in the 1530’s, Sabz Burj is one the earliest Mughal era buildings in India.


The Conservation of Sabz Burj marks the first ever conservation of a national monument with CSR funds and Havells have also provided illumination of the structure to enhance the night skyline of the historic Humayun’s Tomb – Nizamuddin precinct.
Sabz Burj, built in the 1530’s is amongst the earliest Mughal era monuments in Delhi. The building stands within a traffic island prominently at the entrance to the Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site. It is estimated 60 lakh cars cross the monument annually. Conservation works on this significant structure have been undertaken during 2017-21 with the support of Havells by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India.
On removal of 20th century cement during this conservation effort, a painted ceiling was painstakingly revealed by specialist conservators and found to have been painted in pure gold and lapiz amongst other elements. This is now thought to be the earliest surviving painted ceiling for any monument in India and is indicative of the significance of the monument.
The Sabz Burj is a unique monument in Delhi that boasts of glazed tiles on the dome and the tall, elongated drum on which the dome rests. Tiles matching the physical and chemical properties of the 16th century tiles have now been restored on the dome as well as on the drum where these were missing. All surviving original tiles have been retained, even if these had lost their glaze.
Another unique feature of the monument that came to light during conservation works are the differing incised plaster patterns on each of the eight facades. Fortunately, fragments of each of these patterns had survived and it was possible to accordingly restore the patterns in full. Variations of these patterns on this monument include geometric, floral patterns and inscriptions created in incised lime plaster. In undertaking the conservation, master craftsmen – stone carvers, masons, tile makers – have used traditional materials and building craft techniques favored by Indian craftsmen in the 16th century.

Our Team

At the entrance to the Interpretation Centre/ Site Museum stands the early 16th century monument of Sabz Burj, possibly the earliest Mughal structure in Delhi. Over 6 million individuals view the magnificent yet presently ruinous structure located on the busy Mathura Road every year. AKTC is seeking from Havell’s co-funding to undertake the conservation of Sabz Burj. This initiative brings together world class professional capabilities in all relevant areas and combines a visionary approach with local contexts and complexities. It is establishing an archetype for participatory conservation-led development with respect for historic cities and their human, cultural, and physical assets, and showcasing a unique and effective approach to the revitalisation of historic urban centres by simultaneously focussing on conservation of protected and unprotected monuments, public space enhancement, environmental upgrading together with the physical upgrading of adjacent living areas, vocational training, employment generation, upgrading essential facilities such as in the education and health sectors, amongst key proposed interventions.

  • Archaeological Survey of India
  • Aga Khan Trust for Culture
  • Havells India Limited
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