Obama to visit Humayun’s Tomb

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NEW DELHI - Barack Obama will visit the Humayun’s Tomb here, becoming the first US president to see the 16th century monument, an official said Thursday.

I don’t think any US president has visited Humayun’s Tomb in the last 20 years. But the visit depends on security arrangements, Archaeological Survey of India Joint Director-General B.R. Mani told IANS.

The ASI has not drawn up any special plans for the tomb in view of Obama’s visit, Mani said.

According to Ben Rhodes, Obama’s official speech-writer and spokesperson, the tomb is one of the great cultural marvels in New Delhi.

The president felt it was important, given the rich civilization that India has, to pay tribute to it through this stop, Rhodes said.

Obama is arriving in Mumbai Nov 6, and will fly to Indonesia after a four-day visit of India.

The Humayun’s tomb was commissioned in 1562 AD by the emperor’s wife Hamida Banu Begum and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect.

It was the first garden tomb in the sub-continent with landscaped lawns and orchards.

Built in red sandstone and marble, it is located in Nizamuddin East. The Humayun’s Tomb was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.

The ASI is renovating the tomb with the Aga Khan Trust. The first phase of the project that envisages to revive the ancient water channels in the mausoleum complex is nearing completion,” Mani said.

“The second phase will focus on the domes and the main tomb structure while the third phase will refurbish the complex and the surrounding areas. Architects will revive the ancient connection between the Nila Gumbad (a blue domed mausoleum located adjacent to the complex) and the main tomb, Mani said.

The ASI hoped to complete work by next year, Mani said.

The renovation work is spearheaded by conservation architect Ratish Nanda from the Aga Khan Trust.

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