Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday said the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) must “associate itself” and replicate its restoration work at the Humayun’s Tomb in “another, very important” monument — the Taj Mahal. He was speaking at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Humayun’s Tomb Site Museum here.
Responding, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV said, “We, at AKTC, try to be very humble to historic buildings. I am not sure we would dare touch the Taj Mahal. But if there’s anything we can do, we will do,” and the audience burst into applause.
The restoration work undertaken by the AKTC at Humayun’s Tomb should be replicated and scaled up. It is time to think if Taj Mahal is the best kept or best managed and the Union Ministry would want to tie up with the AKTC to conduct restoration work.
– Lalit Pawar, Tourism Secretary
“The conservation work by the trust is the classical example of synergy between an NGO and the Government of India”
– Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of Tourism and Culture
Asserting that Humayun’s Tomb still represents the ideals of universal tolerance that Humayun and his son emperor Akbar represented, Prince Aga Khan said the tomb “staggers imagination to think what was created here in Mughal times” in terms of scale and grandeur. The monument had continued to inspire future generations, he added.
He also emphasised on the importance of green public spaces — one of the targets of AKTC’s Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative. Expressing satisfaction at the socio-economic changes in the area, Prince Aga Khan said “jobs have been created; new skills acquired and commercial opportunities created”.
“This place will serve as a model for other cultural sites in the world,” he said.
Secretary (Tourism) Lalit Pawar said the main beneficiary of the effort is the Ministry of Tourism while Secretary (Culture) Ravindra Singh said the public-private partnership model such as the one between Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and AKTC in Humayun’s Tomb restoration needed to be emulated at other World Heritage Sites in the country.