The finial on the dome of Humayun’s Tomb will take four weeks to be restored

The recent squall which hit the Capital may have been responsible for the partial destruction of the finial on the white dome of the Humayun’s Tomb but tourists, both domestic and foreign, continue to pour into the world heritage site. Even in the scorching heat, it was a pleasant surprise that to see heritage enthusiasts eager to observe how masons in the 21st Century would try and restore the broken pieces of the Mughal architectural heritage.

The other day, around two dozen locals as well as foreigners stood in a queue at the gates at 9-30 a.m. itself. While Indian nationals shelled out Rs.10, foreigners paid Rs.250 per entry ticket.

Hamida Banu Begum, the grieving widow of Humayun, built his mausoleum by using a judicious mix of Persian and Hindustani artisans. A precursor to the Taj Mahal, it is the best example of Persian influence on Indian architecture.

Meanwhile, the all-important finial, which gave the mausoleum a majestic look, will be restored in four weeks’ time. The finial, which supported the pitcher, was knocked off by high velocity winds.

The tomb’s restoration has been done by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Says AKTC project director Ratish Nanda, “Though the wooden core of the brass finial snapped under excessive wind load, no damage was done to the dome. Repairs should take up to four weeks. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.”

ASI Director (Monument) Syed Jamal Hussain says, “For the first time, a finial of a monument in Delhi has been knocked off. Since 1977, not a single monument has been damaged due to a storm.”

According to ASI Superintending Archaeologist Vasant Swarnkar, the responsibility of placing the finial on the dome goes to the AKTC. “The finial comprises 11 parts of metal. Some are okay but one or two pieces have been damaged. We cannot reuse the damaged pieces of metals and place the replica above the dome touching 150 feet above the ground. At that height the wind velocity is high and can damage the finial again.”