New find may shed light on Mughal era – Preservation through public-private partnership

NEW ARCHAEOLOGICAL evidence unearthed near Humayun’s Tomb has revealed that the Nila Gumbad was also a part of the tomb complex.

The Nila Gumbad, located east of Humayun’s Tomb next to the railway line, is an early Mughal period monument. The two monuments are at present cut off from each other by a road. The road forms a loop around the tomb and connects East Nizamuddin with Gurdwara Dumduma Sahib.

The historic link – an arcaded platform – was discovered during a routine inspection of the Nila Gumbad site. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had commissioned India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to develop a park around Nila Gumbad. But Parvez Dewan, CMD of ITDC, suspended the work after the discovery of the archaeological remains.

ASI Director Dr B.R. Mani, who is in charge of World Heritage sites, said the clearance work carried out at the site shows historic connection between the Nila Gumbad and Humayun’s Tomb. The arcaded platform stretches from the Nila Gumbad site to the tomb’s eastern wall.

ITDC’s Parvez Dewan said, “It is a major discovery and integrating the two sites through a green landscape will be a major contribution to tourism.” But if the two sites are to be integrated, the road in between will have to be shifted further east towards the railway line. It is learnt that the ASI will take up the issue with the Railway Ministry soon.

The Nila Gumbad is an early Mughal period monument dating back to mid 16th century and showcases Persian influence on Mughal architecture. With blue and green tiles, the gumbad was originally a river island tomb accessible from Humayun’s Tomb and the arcaded platform protected it from the river Yamuna that once flowed near Humayun’s Tomb before shifting course eastward.

A few years ago, slum dwellers had encroached upon the Nila Gumbad but the then tourism and culture minister Jagmohan got the area cleared. ASI officials said allowing access to Nila Gumbad from Humayun’s Tomb would create an additional attraction for the visitors to the World Heritage Site. The river island tomb will also once again overlook a natural green landscape instead of a road.

As per the memorandum of understanding signed by the government in July last year, the vicinity of the Humayun’s Tomb complex, including Sundar Nursery, is being enhanced through a public-private partnership under the urban renewal project between ASI, CPWD, MCD and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The project also envisages health, sanitation and educational facilities for the residents of Nizamuddin Basti. This will improve the living conditions around Nizamuddin Dargah.


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.