U.S. President, First Lady interact with schoolchildren at the World Heritage Monument

As part of their first engagement in the national capital, U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle visited the World Heritage Monument, Humayun's Tomb, here on Sunday. They interacted with children of labourers engaged in the monument's heritage conservation work and got a brief tour of the monument's historical and cultural significance.

The couple shook hands with 14 schoolchildren aged between five and 13 who were accompanied by some workers at the monuments tended by the Archaeological Society of India (ASI). They were seen carrying slates with the sign “Welcome Obama Ji” and “Welcome Obama Uncle.”

Before entering the monument, the couple had a look at a model of the tomb and Google map pictures of the monument's aerial view that were on display.

Greeting the children with folded hands and a “Namaste,” Mr. Obama and his wife began their warm interactive session which included the President bending down to chat with them better about their place of stay and their studies.

While exploring the over 450-year-old Mughal monument located on a 32-acre plot in South Delhi's Nizamuddin area, Mr. Obama praised the architecture and was briefed about the monument's rich cultural history and archaeological significance through the tour provided by ASI's Superintending Archaeologist, Delhi Circle, K.K. Mohammad.

After taking a walk around the fountain on the green plush garden on the monument premises, the couple entered the tomb, where the media was not allowed for security reasons. After spending a few minutes inside, they came out to join the children who were waiting for them. The couple spent about 45 minutes at the monument after which Mr. Obama was seen walking out with his wife hand in hand.

While Mr. Obama entered the monument wearing a white shirt, black trousers and a coat, soon after entering he discarded the coat and rolled up his sleeves.

Gifts given to children

Mr. Obama and his wife struck an instant chord with the children and posed with them for a group photograph. The couple also distributed gifts to the children that comprised a two-and-half-inch silver bookmark with the U.S presidential seal which carried Mr. Obama's signature.

Profound debt

“Through the rise and fall of empires, Indian civilisation has endured and led the world to new heights of achievement. The world owed a profound debt to India and its people,” Mr. Obama wrote in the visitor's book at the tomb, according to reports. Ms. Michelle Obama also signed below his signature.

The tomb, built over 450 years ago, sports a new look after a major renovation exercise undertaken by the ASI and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Conservation architect Ratish Nanda, who interacted with Mr. Obama for a few minutes, explained to him the concept of using conservation as a tool for socio-economic development through the public-private partnership model.

Keywords: Obama visit

More In: National | News