Sunken museum at Humayun’s Tomb

Inspired by baolis, the museum, with a built-up area of 9,000 sq. m., will be constructed by The Aga Khan Trust for Culture on behalf ofthe Archaeological Survey of India.  

Work on construction of the country’s “first” sunken museum at the iconic Humayun’s Tomb site will begin from Tuesday.

Inspired by baolis in northern India, the underground site museum with a built-up area of 9,000 sq. m. will marry modern 21st century architecture with Mughal-era craftsmanship in its design.

Expected to be complete by 2017, the project has been pledged a fund of Rs.49 crore from the Tourism Ministry. Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma will lay the foundation on Tuesday in the presence of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which is building the museum on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India as part of its urban renewal initiative, says the museum will be located at the entrance zone of the World Heritage Complex and serve as bridge between the three sites of Nizamuddin, Sunder Nursery and the 16th century tomb.

“The principal structure, where galleries will be located, is six metre below the ground level, while the gallery block rises four feet above the ground level. The roof is treated like a Mughal garden,” AKTC project director Ratish Nanda told PTI .

The museum will include galleries, library, seminar halls, crafts centre and cafeteria, among others.

The finial of the Mughal monument, which was knocked off in a storm last year, will be its “centre-piece”, he added.

“Besides, several other finials, sandstone and marble elements, terracotta pipes, over 400 earth toys found at the site of Isa Khan’s tomb nearby, among others, will also be housed there,” Mr. Nanda added.

He said the design is inspired by baolis , that are sunken and yet allow natural light and ventilation.

“This is to ensure visual linkages between important monuments located around the museum are retained...Also, the experience of an underground museum will be unique as this will be the country’s first sunken museum. It will serve to interpret the historical development of Nizamuddin area over the past seven centuries. And it is also expected that at least 100 objects related to the early Mughal era as well as the pluralistic Sufi traditions will also be displayed there.”

Besides contemporary architecture, it will also incorporate Mughal craft traditions like stone-carving, tile-making and incised plasterwork.”

Mr. Nanda added: “The idea of maintaining the visual contour of the area by going underground could provide a model for museums or interpretation centres required at other sites, with significant number of historic buildings in other parts of the country.”

The idea for building a site museum was conceived a few years ago by the ASI.

“Ground penetrating radar survey was conducted to study possibility of archaeological remains at the site. Heritage impact assessment, surveys to assess needs and aspirations of visitors, and many other studies, including traffic planning, were also conducted,” he added.

Mr. Nanda said temporary galleries at the museum will be used to host travelling exhibitions. “And it is hoped that the site museum will establish a significant exchange programme with other leading museums of the world.”

He said this will be a “major museum in the national Capital since the opening of the Crafts Museum at Pragati Maidan around 30 years ago”. — PTI

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 9:51:32 PM |

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