Kabul, Afghanistan, May 19, 2010 – Minister of Information and Cultural Affairs Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, Minister of Religious Affairs and Hajj Khawas Khan Niazi, and U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry celebrated the restoration and opening of the Goldasta Mosque in ceremony today. Several Afghan officials and members of the community were present to witness the ceremony.
“The process of restoring Goldasta Mosque not only brought a new community facility back to life, but it has contributed to the revival of traditional building crafts such as joinery and plastering,” said Ambassador Eikenberry. “Dozens of skilled workers and craftsmen worked on the project; the mosque is a great example of their remarkable talents.”
The Goldasta Mosque is fine example of late 19th century religious architecture that incorporates a range of regional decorative influences. While badly damaged in the fierce fighting that raged throughout the old city of Kabul in 1993, it is testament to the quality of the builders of the Goldasta mosque that enough of the structure was still standing to allow restoration of the building to bring it back to useful life. Thanks to the efforts of residents of the surrounding neighbourhood, the wooden columns and marble panels of the building were protected.
The U.S. Embassy partnered with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on this project. In addition to resorting an architecturally significant religious building, the project provided jobs to community members in Kabul’s Tandoorsazi area.
Since 2001 the U.S. government and American institutions such as the National Geographic and National Endowment for the Humanities have spent over $4 million on cultural heritage projects in Afghanistan. Included in this is the restoration of 8 historic buildings throughout the country.
On-going project include Shish Nal Mosque in Herat, Ulya Madrassa in Kabul, Noh Gonbad Mosque in Balkh and the Qala Ikhtyaruddin citadel in Herat. Completed projects include the Goldasta Mosque which was opened today, as well as the Khoja Rokhband Cistern in Herat and the Mullah Mahmud Mosque in Kabul.
18 families moved to restore Nizamuddin complex
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 02, 2010
First Published: 00:55 IST(2/6/2010)
Last Updated: 00:58 IST(2/6/2010)
As part of the on-going restoration and conservation work at the Nizamuddin dargah and the nearby baoli (stepwell), 18 families were shifted from the dargah’s surrounding area.
The 14th century baoli (step well), built by Hazarat Nizamuddin Auliya and "believed to have medicinal properties", had borne large-scale damage to its surrounding walls because of seepage from these houses.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has been working for the restoration and conservation in the heritage precincts for several years, are carrying out the conservation work in the area, with the help of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in partnership with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the MCD.
"The restoration and conservation work for the baoli would continue for another year," an AKTC official said.
During the conservation, five perennial underground fresh water streams that fed the baoli, and a passage linking the water point to the mosque, were also discovered. The AKTC is also funding the relocation of the families.
However, the families are not keen on relocation. "I don't want to go that far as my school is here. I will stay here with my dadi," said Shahnaz Khatoon, a Class VII student. Shahnaz's family was one of the 18 evacuated on Monday. Their houses were demolished by the MCD.
"All these families have been given rented accommodation at Sawda Ghewra near Nangloi by the MCD. A permanent accommodation will be provided later," said Shahnaz's uncle Mohammed Rizwan, a photocopy machine operator. His house, being a little away from the boundary, was not part of the demolition.
The MCD is undertaking this conservation project to improve streets and toilet blocks in the congested Hazrat Nizamuddin area, which is expected to draw a large number of visitors during the Commonwealth Games.
"The Nizamuddin basti area is a densely dense populated area and is visited by over a million national and international tourists and pilgrims every year. It is expected to draw large number of footfalls during the Games so there is a need to improve it," a senior MCD official said. The area houses the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah, Mazar-e-Ghalib, Humayun's Tomb and other historical and archaeological sites.
As the time is short, the MCD decided to prepare estimates for various lanes separately for early execution of work.
The AKTC will carry out community consultation process as part of its non-profit partnership with the MCD for the project.
Let the Beauty we Love Be What We Do: A Profile of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
34mn 38secs (154MB)
A film on the projects and activities of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture: Ancient villages and historic cities restored... Abandoned monuments given new life... Old skills relearned and new discoveries made... Economically depressed communities revived... Music and verse, once forgotten, performed again... Masterpieces of Islamic art on display for the first time.
Zanzibar is hot and sticky. It is the prelude to the long rains. In the evenings, I find myself looking to escape the stuffiness of my hotel room. Within a short walk, past the madrasa, are the Forodhani Gardens, a seafront sanctuary filled with walkways, benches and food stalls.
This rehabilitation project spearheaded by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has restored a variety of sites that mark Zanzibar's rich history. Only men in white aprons and chef hats manage the many stalls of the night market, known for its shellfish, meat kebabs, fruit, freshly pressed sugarcane juice and, of course, the local Zanzibar pizza.
Young and old, local and tourists gather here every evening to enjoy the views across the aquamarine Indian Ocean on the one side and the House of Wonders on the other.
The atmosphere is relaxed, or hakuna haraka (no hurry). It's a wonderful place to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. As a woman alone in Stone Town, the place is safe. In general, spaces between men and women, especially in public, are defined as distant. However, it is not uncommon for a stranger to strike up a conversation. Warmth and hospitality remain a strong brand.
The green lawn, trees and children's play area gives it the look and feel of a real park. Juma, a trader selling Zanzibar pizza, is happy with the location. He particularly enjoys the cool breeze of the ocean and access to water for cleaning, though he's disgruntled with the exponential increase of kodi (rent) when moving from old and shabby to new and expensive. He feels the government doesn't care much about retention – there are plenty of others who can take his place.
Rehabilitation projects can be ugly and out of sync with the local environment. These gardens blend in well with the local architecture and culture and seem to be appreciated by all.
My colleague, Steve from Malawi, goes there most evenings to eat roasted mhogo (cassava). After endless meetings, the gardens offer respite. Luckily, the culture of malls with walls and electric fencing remains distant. And for now, the Forodhani experience – a meal with a drink and a great view – can be enjoyed for less than $3. These gardens may also offer a formula from which other urban centres could glean a lesson or two.
The preservation and protection of the early 18th-century Amarbayasgalant Monastery in Mongolia is one of four large-scale efforts among 63 cultural heritage preservation projects to receive financial support from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) in 2010. Established by Congress in the fall of 2000 and celebrating its 10th year, the AFCP awards grants for the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects and collections, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 countries. The AFCP has demonstrated America's respect for the cultural heritage of others by supporting more than 640 preservation projects worldwide.
The Amarbayasgalant Monastery was once the most important center for Buddhist learning and culture in Mongolia and is a rare survivor of the Soviet-controlled government-ordered destruction of Buddhist monasteries in the 1930s. The monastery's wooden main temple and other buildings are magnets for pilgrims and tourists and are highly vulnerable to damage and theft. The $575,000 AFCP award to the Arts Council of Mongolia will support preservation and protection measures to reduce the risk of fire and theft at this site.
The three other AFCP awards for large-scale projects in 2010 are:
$625,000 to the World Monuments Fund for the conservation of the remains of the 11th-century Surp Prikitch (Church of the Holy Redeemer) at the medieval Armenian site of Ani in eastern Turkey;
$850,000 to the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan, for the restoration of the early 17th-century Sheikhupura Fort, an impressive red brick fort built by the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, as part of the royal hunting estate of Hiran Minar; and,
$450,000 to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, for ongoing restoration of Qala Ikhtyaruddin, the 15th-century citadel of Herat, Afghanistan.
AFCP also awarded $3.4 million in grants for projects to preserve cultural heritage in 52 countries and the West Bank.
Cultural heritage endures as a reminder of the historical experiences and contributions of mankind. By supporting the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide, the AFCP helps extend its value as a vital and defining element of communities and nations and helps ensure its use, enjoyment, and relevance both today and for generations to come.
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Cultural Heritage Center, which supports the foreign affairs functions of the U.S. Department of State that relate to the preservation of cultural heritage. The Center also administers U.S. responsibilities relating to the 1970 UNESCO Convention to reduce pillage and illicit trafficking in cultural property.
Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, (202) 632-6437 or StearnsCL@state.gov
IT would be hard to think of a spiritual leader who has made as big a difference to the arts as Aga Khan IV.
If one trawls far back enough into the history of a religion such as the Catholic church, it is possible to find popes who were more interested in culture than in punishing the insufferable Galileo, but their efforts tended to be almost entirely in their own Roman backyard. For several generations, the Aga Khans have perhaps benefited from not having an obvious backyard. They have become true citizens of the world.
Matching the dynasty’s geographical diversity is the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). This is not one of those networks that involve the occasional breakfast meeting to discuss new contacts for advertising-flyer campaigns. The AKDN has cast its net wider than just about any organisation on the planet, including the United Nations. Next weekend, in its Heritage Heroes’ series, BBC World will be presenting an account of a recent project undertaken by one of the AKDN’s most active subdivisions — the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. In this documentary, the spiritual leader gets to express himself on the subject of heritage in the once-dismal surroundings of Forodhani Park, Zanzibar. Free of the parochial blinkers that tunnel the vision of every preservation-minded government around the world, his mission is broad in concept and vigorous in execution. In his visionary world, the built environment is not a pay-to-enter pastiche of the past. Buildings are there to accommodate life: “They are not frozen, paralysed historic assets. They are assets that can actually contribute to the quality of life of the people who live in those contexts.” It’s a stirring message, delivered in some unlikely locations. The latest beneficiary on a large scale is Toronto. On this occasion, the Aga Khan is nourishing his own roots, the Ismaili Imamat. Last month, he launched the construction of a substantial complex in Canada’s biggest city. The site will comprise an Ismaili centre, a park and a museum. Astonishingly, the museum will be the only such Islamic-art institution in North America. Closer to this part of the world, the Aga Khan’s great contribution to culture is his architecture awards. Once again, Malaysia has made it to the final nominations within the three-year cycle, and not with one of those faux-cultural projects beloved by state governments. On previous occasions it has been landmark buildings such as Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS or, going back even further, the delightfully scenic Tanjong Jara Resort in Terangganu. This year, the Malaysian contender is an old rubber smokehouse in Kedah. This is the type of unpredictable choice that makes these awards so distinctive. The concept of smoking rubber might conjure up images of Vin Diesel and The Fast & the Furious. For the nation’s younger generations, it will resonate to the same extent as tin dredging. These were the activities that put Malaysia on the global map of primary producers but the tin-mining ponds have mostly been turned into new townships. Rubber, however, is still going strong — and flexible. As Malaysia is the world’s No. 3 producer of rubber, it seems justifiable to preserve the industry’s heritage. Among the more attractive relics is the Rubber Smokehouse in the small town of Lunas. This corner of Kedah also happens to be the home town of Laurence Loh, the architect behind the initiative. Being from the neighbourhood, Loh had a vision. This is unlikely to have been shared by out-of-towners, who would have shuddered at the sight of a large abandoned shed that is now a monument to civic pride and an almost forgotten past. It has become the premises of DIGI Communications, which has resisted the temptation to adorn the place with their trademark rotund “yellow men”. In fact, everything looks authentic except for the massive splash of colour that occupies one side of the building. “Funky” would probably be the word used to describe this feature. It certainly gives a youthful vigour to the place, which appears to have become a magnet for the community, drawing together its disparate elements into the very model of 1Malaysia. It’s an original choice for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture committee. The awards go to a wide array of worthwhile efforts, but in this part of the world the winners are usually pretty. A prime example would be the Green School in Bali. This is much more than a school — it is an eco-community which includes that essential ingredient of modern life, a gym. Never before has bamboo been used so extensively and effectively. The pioneers behind it have gone as far as giving bamboo seedlings to farmers in the neighbourhood to keep the green, sustainable message alive.
The other Southeast Asian competitor for the latest award is near Yogyakarta in Indonesia. Unlike Lunas, it is one of those idyllic locations that embody a long-standing fantasy of the Malay Archipelago. Miraculously, a village of 65 houses was put up in less than three months, thanks to the solidarity of the community. The reason the village had to be rebuilt provides a reminder of how fortunate Malaysia is in many ways. The original village was obliterated during an earthquake in 2007, along with 140,000 other homes in the district and almost 6,000lives. They probably deserve the award.
Rare copies of the Qur'an and a key to the Kaaba in Mecca inlaid with gold will be on display
After a $10-million restoration project that lasted 8 years, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt officially reopened the world’s largest Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo on Saturday, August 14, 2010.
The Museum restoration project has been hailed as a feat of cross-cultural collaboration, bringing together experts from the Islamic Department of the Louvre of Paris, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the nation’s own Supreme Council of Antiques (SCA).
Erected to protect the artifacts from looters, the original museum was designed by Italian architect Alfonso Manescalo and completed in 1903. Even though the Museum housed over 3,000 relics representing the country’s Pharonic, Coptic and Islamic heritage, tourists used to largely ignore the institution, located in the heart of busy Cairo, favouring the usual attractions instead.
Officials soon realized that the poor lighting and organization of the relics were to blame. Moreover, the walls were beginning to crack due to earth tremors. In 2003, the Ministry of Culture began the process to restore the museum to its former glory.
The Museum has been closed to the public since 2006 to implement extensive overhauls in interior and display design. The new Museum is now brighter, cleaner and less cluttered and divides 2500 relics into two wings.
The first wing displays materials from Egypt’s own Islamic history in chronological order Umayyad, Abbasid, Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayubid, Mameluke and Ottoman. The second wing houses artefacts from other nations, such as calligraphy, manuscripts, incense burners, dated to various periods in Islamic history and organized according to chronology, provenance and material.
Rare copies of the Qur'an and a key to the Kaaba in Mecca inlaid with gold will be on display. Other exhibits include Ottoman-era ceramics, ancient instruments used in astronomy, chemistry and architecture and the oldest Islamic dinar ever found, traced back to the year 697.
The Museum’s operations will also expand to include all members of the public. The new design includes a children’s museum and educational programmes are planned for the general public and young adults.
Prior to the opening, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Secretary-General Zahi Hawass conducted an extensive tour of inspection. Speaking to Al Ahram Weekly, Hawass called the renovation an “extraordinary achievement”.
“Now that the Museum of Islamic Art meets the international standards set out by the International Committee of Museums, it is in a position to compete with its counterparts in Europe and America,“ he said. “Following its re-opening, the museum will once again stand as proudly as it ever did.”
Fastest Growing City in Africa Gets 103-hectare Urban Park
President of Mali and Aga Khan Inaugurate National Park of Mali as part of events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Malian Independence
Please also see: Related Material, Discours en français, Version française
Mali Projects 2004-2010
(Click on the image to download the brief)
Bamako, 22 September 2010 - President Amadou Toumani Toure and His Highness the Aga Khan inaugurated the new National Park of Mali in Bamako today. The 103-hectare Park was created under a public-private partnership between the Government of Mali and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). The Aga Khan is in Mali along with Heads of State from across Africa for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Malian Independence.
The Park creates a permanent green space in one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Under the terms of the public-private partnership, the Government asked AKTC to concentrate on the Park’s 103 hectares (250 acres), a large, semi-circular canyon of protected forest that lies beneath the Koulouba plateau, between the National Museum and the Presidential Palace Complex. The Park is part of a larger protected forest reserve of 2,100 hectares (5180 acres).
In keeping with AKTC’s philosophy that a Park without a long-range plan for maintenance and development could simply become a burden on the city, AKTC earlier signed a 25-year agreement with Mali’s Minister of Culture and Minister of the Environment and Sanitation for the maintenance and further development of the Park. AKTC’s park projects, notably in Delhi, Cairo and Zanzibar, all have provisions for the long-term sustainability of the parks.
The Park is designed to offer large open spaces for leisure and educational activities for the general public, school groups and tourists. Bringing together the National Museum and the existing Botanical Garden and Zoo into a single cultural/ecological park, the Park features a comprehensive pedestrian circulation network and formal promenades throughout. It contains fitness, jogging, cycling and mountaineering tracks of varying difficulty and diverse interpretive awareness trails for botany, birds and nature. The garden spaces feature indigenous flora in varied settings, from open lawn areas to flower gardens, wooded areas and a medicinal garden. Interpretive educational signs and displays and the development of trained guides are expected to offer new educational experiences for visitors.
Phase 1 included the rehabilitation of 17 hectares of open spaces and the redevelopment and integration of eight existing facilities. The architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, an Aga Khan Award for Architecture recipient in 2004, was commissioned to design a primary and secondary gate, an entry building, a youth and sports centre, a restaurant, public toilets and several kiosks.
The Park development is part of a broader programme of urban revitalisation efforts undertaken by AKTC at World Heritage sites within the country. As part of its Earthen Architecture Programme, AKTC has also undertaken large cultural, social and economic projects in Mopti, Timbuktu and Djenné.
The programme began in 2006 with the restoration of the Great Mosque of Mopti, which had been at risk of collapse. AKTC then implemented an urban regeneration programme that aimed to raise the standard of living for residents in the Komoguel area. Water points were established to increase access to safe, clean drinking water; an underground sewerage system was built with connections to individual households in the area; a treatment facility for raw sewage was installed; 4500 square metres of streets were paved with locally manufactured bricks (made from recycled polythene bags and sand) and a system for collection of solid waste was introduced. A flood barrier built to withstand periodic flooding was constructed. A visitor centre housing the Centre for Earthen Architecture, a community centre and public toilets were also constructed. In the process, 345 people were trained in construction techniques, plumbing, masonry, brick manufacturing, carpentry and metal work.
Following the work in Mopti, AKTC initiated comprehensive conservation works on the Djingereyber Mosque in Timbuktu at the end of 2006. The mosque, built in the 14th century, is the oldest earth construction building in sub-Saharan Africa. Officially listed as part of the Mali’s cultural heritage, it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
AKTC’s work in Djenné began in 2006, when a preliminary study of the Great Mosque revealed that despite its well-known annual maintenance process, the Great Mosque of Djenné was at risk of collapsing. AKTC’s conservation of the Mosque, which began at the end of 2008, encompassed the complete rehabilitation of the roof, restoration of the mud-brick load-bearing wall structure and the complete replacement of the interior lighting, ventilation and sound systems. As in Mopti, Djenné’s Phase 2 will encompass the improvement of public spaces, the installation of water and sanitation and other measures designed to improve the quality of life in the area.
For more information, please contact
Réseau Aga Khan de développement (Mali)
Immeuble Niangado, sis quartier du fleuve
B.P.E 2998, Bamako-Mali
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.akdn.org/Content/1013
AKCSP receives Unesco Award of Distinction for restoring Gulabpur Khanqah
SKARDU (September 30, 2010) : The Gulabpur Khanqah in Shigar valley, Skardu, Baltistan was recently awarded the 2010 Asia-Pacific Award of Distinction in Cultural Heritage by Unesco. For nine consecutive times, the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), which is the operational arm of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in Pakistan, has won a Unesco Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award for its conservation efforts in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The more prominent awards won earlier being for Baltit Fort in Hunza and Shigar Fort in Baltistan. A total of 33 entries, from 14 countries in the region, were submitted for consideration. The conservation project entries included museums, hotels, cultural institutions, educational institutions, religious sites, industrial sites, public institutions, residential buildings, urban districts and islands.
From 2008 to 2009 the conservation and rehabilitation of the Gulabpur Khanqah was carried out by the Gulabpur community who contributed around 40 percent of the total costs in cash and kind, with AKCSP providing technical advice. Financial assistance was provided by the German Embassy in Islamabad.
The conservation project of Gulabpur Khanqah - a mosque with meditation chambers - has saved a unique historic monument which served as the long time centre of social, cultural and religious activities for the surrounding communities. The project demonstrates the inclusion of yet another building typology in the grassroots conservation movement already active in Shigar. "A great sense of commitment was demonstrated by the Gulabpur community, which makes the project an exemplar of community-led architectural restoration undertaken with a view toward sustaining living cultural traditions," said Salman Beg, CEO - AKCSP upon receiving the award.
The 331 year old Gulabpur Khanqah is located in Gulabpur village sited on the western bank of Shigar river about 10 km upstream of its confluence with the river Indus near Skardu. The monument is accessible through the link road of Arandu valley, which is the main tourist attraction due to the Chago Lungma Glacier and the Golden Peak.
The Khanqah displays typical architectural features of Baltistan, among which the double roof with the classical Tibetan tower on top is most salient. The building is characterised by cribbage walls, as well as impressive wooden pillars and a painted wooden ceiling inside the prayer hall.-PR
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The roof of the Gulabpur Khanqah is supported by wooden pillars. Photo: Express/File
ISLAMABAD: Conservation and rehabilitation efforts for the culturally and historically significant Gulabpur Khanqah, first started two years ago, were recognised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) early in September, said an Aga Khan Foundation’s press release on Wednesday.
UNESCO awarded The Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) the Award of Distinction in the 2010 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. The awards recognise the achievements of individuals and private organisations “in successfully restoring structures of heritage value in the [Asia Pacific] region”.
The 331-year-old Gulabpur Khanqah, which is a mosque with meditation rooms, is located in Gulabpur village near Skardu, on the western bank of Shigar River, about 10km upstream of where it meets the river Indus.
The monument, a popular tourist attraction and accessible through the link road of Arandu Valley, has the typical architectural features of buildings in Baltistan, such as the double roof with a classical Tibetan tower on top. The building features an impressively-painted ceiling supported by wooden pillars. For over three centuries the Khanqah has served as the hub of social, cultural and religious activities for the local communities, according to the press release.
Khanqah is a building where people can go for spiritual retreat and character reformation.
The Gulabpur community teamed up with AKCSP between 2008 and 2009 for the conservation and rehabilitation project. The local community contributed around 40 per cent of the total costs in cash and materials, while the remaining finances were contributed by the German Embassy in Islamabad. AKCSP provided technical advice.
“A great sense of commitment was demonstrated by the Gulabpur community, which makes the project an exemplar of community-led architectural restoration [to sustain] living cultural traditions,” said Salman Beg, CEO of AKCSP, upon receiving the award.
This year, 33 projects from 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region were submitted for the awards’ consideration. These projects included conservations of museums, hotels, cultural institutions, educational institutions, religious sites, industrial public institutions, residential buildings, urban district and islands.
The Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, which is the operational arm of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Pakistan, has won this award for nine times in a row now.
The press release said that some of the prominent award-winning AKCSP projects in the past were the Baltit Fort in Hunza and Shigar Fort in Baltistan.
National Park of Mali Opens in Bamako
September 2010 - The population of Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, has risen rapidly in recent years, now numbering over one million inhabitants. Population growth has driven the demand for housing and public facilities. In this context, the need for far-sighted urban planning has been crucial. The Government of Mali responded by outlining the boundaries of the National Park of Mali, a space of 103 hectares within a larger protected forest reserve of 2,100 hectares that forms a significant greenbelt in the city of Bamako. Under the terms of the public-private partnership, the Government asked the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to concentrate on a 103 hectares area that incorporates a large, semi-circular canyon of protected forest that lies beneath the terraced outcrops of the Koulouba plateau, between the National Museum and the Presidential Palace Complex. The slideshow offers a view of the construction of the Park and its completed state.
Look for the blooming of the University of Alberta Devonian Gardens into a major regional attraction. Not that it isn’t already, but given its low profile, most of you likely have not visited the beautiful gardens, north of Devon, on Hwy. 60.
Putting the gardens on the map will be the regal and majestic Aga Khan Islamic- style garden. Now in its design stages, the garden was a multi-million-dollar gift from the Aga Khan, the global leader of the Ismaili Muslim community. It was announced when the Aga Khan received an honorary degree from the U of A in 2009.
There are several other botanical projects in the works, giving the visitor much more to do and see.
The gardens’ administrative setup is being restructured, to be less of a University of Alberta appendage and more of an independent body, with its own board of governors. Hence the new emphasis on the gardens as a tourist attraction.
New Delhi, Oct 28 – 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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