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Humayun's Tomb by night

The celebrated monument, which served as an architectural inspiration for Taj Mahal, has been in the news for many reasons of restoration and development.

Humayuns Tomb by night

The city of Delhi added a new monument to its skyline at night. The Humayun's Tomb illuminated at night has become a joy to behold. And the beauty of its dome lit up by LED lights-800 in all have been captured by India's finest architectural photographer Ram Rahman, the curator and lensman.

One look at the iconic dome in its alchemy of splendour reflects the gilded finial . Rising against the marble white dome it has a regal form and presence. Destroyed in a storm in May 2014, this finial had been replaced by a team of skilled individuals in May 2016.

In a first of its kind restoration, a dedicated team of experts brought traditional craftsmanship with industrial precision to return the gilded finial to 16th century Humayun's Tomb. CEO, Aga Khan Trust for Culture India, Ratish Nanda was instrumental in recreating the finesse of the finial from an 18-ft ornamental ensemble, consisting of Sal wood core and 11 copper vessels topped with a brass piece with a coating of 22-carat gold to match its original crowning splendour.

The celebrated monument which served as an architectural inspiration for Taj Mahal, has been in the news for many reasons of restoration and development. The Archaeological Survey of India commissioned Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to begin work on the new finial on December 31, 2014.

Nanda, a conservation architect, oversaw "a motley team of artists, craftsmen, architects, engineers and scientists worked on this project to return the famed mausoleum its crown jewel."

"In the finial, the 11 copper vessels, covered with a gold finish, were in a friable state and had been repaired several times over the last five centuries. Each of the vessels was weighed and studied separately to allow comparisons with the original profile and carefully map the damage," he said.

The AKTC CEO claimed that the gold restoration was the "first of its kind" work in India, as far as monuments are concerned and over "3 kgs of pure gold was used" in the project which seemed to replicate a closeness to the original.

In a rare assignment, Ram Rahman shot the white marble dome of Humayun's Tomb which towers 100 feet over the Delhi skyline at night. Shooting the majesty of this grand dome under the Delhi night sky, was an uncomfortable exercise because it was humid and Rahman had just returned from New York. " The beauty of the scene is the many shadows it threw up , lit by LED luminaires in a manner that mimics and enhances the effect of moonlight," adds Rahman.

Visible from major road networks such as the Ring Road, Barahpullah elevated road, Nizamuddin Bridge, the illumination will significantly enhance the skyline of historic Delhi.

Nanda states, "The light fixtures are placed at least 100 meters away from the monument thus the historic character of the site is not compromised for day time visitors. The electric cables have been laid outside the Humayun's Tomb's enclosed walled garden in order to ensure that no damage to underlying archaeology occurs in laying of cables."

The dome is lit by Havells Energy efficient LED luminaires of 316 W each. These will provide an energy/electricity saving of around 90% when compared with the halogen light fixtures installed at Humayun's Tomb in 1999. In continuation of the partnership with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Havells India Ltd aims to illuminate several other monuments as part of CSR effort. For Delhi, the skyline boasts of the love that one queen had for her husband. An apt epitaph for the majesty and magnificence of the Moghul Dynasty and Islamic traditions in architecture.

(AKTC Pic by Ram Rehman)

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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