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AKTC Work in the world
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

President Amadou Toumani Touré Opens Centre for Earthen Architecture in Mali

On 29 October 2010, President Amadou Toumani Touré officially opened the new Centre for Earthen Architecture in Mopti, Mali. The centre, located in the city’s Komoguel district, includes an exhibition space designed to present Mali’s rich heritage of earthen architecture to the public, a community centre with public toilets and showers, a cafeteria and a park.

This project is the outcome of a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Culture, the municipality of Mopti and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The restoration of the Great Mosque in Komoguel, which opened in 2008, was followed by regeneration work across a substantial area of the Komoguel district, including street paving, with the aim of improving living conditions for local residents.

The partnership between the Ministry of Culture and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) aims to revitalise the tradition of earthen architecture in Mali. Its initial phase saw the restoration of several mosques, including the Komoguel Mosque in Mopti, the Djingereyber Mosque in Timbuktu and the Great Mosque of Djenné. Providing professional training in traditional construction methods has been a key component of these projects, which have proved to be an invaluable source of technical, organisational and relational learning in the wider context of preserving Mali’s earthen buildings. The second phase of the earthen architecture restoration programme will include further major projects involving Mali’s rich heritage and public spaces in various regions of the country.

The centre was opened to the public on 1 November 2010.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. Through its programmes the AKTC promotes debate on built environments, offers models and solutions to contemporary design challenges, and plays an active part in the physical and social revitalisation of communities in order to improve their quality of life.

For further information please contact:

Réseau Aga Khan de développement [Aga Khan Development Network](Mali)
Immeuble Niangado, sis quartier du fleuve
B.P.E 2998, Bamako-Mali

Tel: +223 20 22 08 63/20 22 06 95
Fax: +223 20 22 34 66
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

City park set for Sh 1b facelift

By CHURCHILL OTIENO in DohaPosted Friday, November 26 2010 at 21:00

The Government is working with the Aga Khan Development Network to restore and improve Nairobi’s City Park at a cost of nearly Sh1billion.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi that AKDN would help revitalise the park on a public-private-partnership basis and that a Cabinet
approval was all that was pending.

“Improving facilities at the park will make it safer for Nairobi dwellers and making it environmentally friendly will see to its sustainable use for research and tourism,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi, who is also the Minister for Local Government, spoke on the flanks of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture seminar in Doha, Qatar.

He said City Park would be restored and improved along the lines of similar projects undertaken by AKDN in eight other cities including Cairo and Bamako.

“Kenya would benefit greatly in AKDN’s technical expertise and experience in rebuilding and running similar projects elsewhere in the world. Current plans show that work on City Park will cost no less than US$10 million,” he said.

He said the project will also involve the Nairobi City Council as the host authority and the National Museums of Kenya since City Park is a gazetted site of national heritage.

Mr Mudavadi held several bilateral meetings with officials of the Qatari government, including the Minister for Energy, Dr Mohammed bin Saleh al Sada and the chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, Mr Jassim bin Jabber al Thani.

Mr Jabber said his government was interested in investing in some of the Kenyan parastatals currently lined up for privatisation.

Dr Saleh expressed his government’s willingness to invest in Kenya’s geothermal power generation if a technical partner was identified.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is just opposite the Aga Khan Hospital and our Darkhana on Limuru Road. There is also a market beside. I think there will be also some work done at the Market there in due time.

Presently monkeys from the forest behind rundown city park come to the Market, even cross the road and steal some food from time to times from Hirani Estate [that is an Ismaili Estate with about 49 houses] on 3rd Parklands Avenue in Nairobi.

Monkeys are quite an attraction and it is indeed surprising to see so many of them in the area. The Park will be a success for sure!

Limuru road is on the way from city center to the Unep headquarter in Gigiri.

The whole are of Parklands will see its value enhanced with the creation of a proper secure park.

I can see in the future people going there even at night eating miskaki and other food in a secure environment, Forodhani style - that would be a first in our city named Nairobery icon_lol.gif
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Islamic Art Museum Cairo

The work was carried out jointly with the Islamic Department of the Louvre in Paris and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which helped with the restoration of several larger items.

Video and Edit by Rachel Beth Anderson, Music by Esthema
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:51 pm    Post subject: Aleppo, Syria - AKTC Projects - Park Reply with quote

Preserving Heritage
(Nicolai Ouroussof | DP-News- The New York times)

ALEPPO— At first glance it seems an unremarkable scene: a quiet plaza shaded by date palms in the shadow of this city’s immense medieval Citadel, newly restored to its looming power. Foreign tourists sit side by side with people whose families have lived here for generations; women, both veiled and unveiled, walk arm in arm past a laborer hauling tools into an old government building being converted into a hotel.

But this quiet plaza is the centerpiece of one of the most far-thinking preservation projects in the Middle East, one that places as much importance on people as it does on the buildings they live in. The project encompasses the rebuilding of crumbling streets and the upgrading of city services, the restoration of hundreds of houses in the historic Old City, plans for a 42-acre park in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and the near-decade-long restoration of the Citadel itself, whose massive walls dominate the skyline of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and a gem of Islamic architecture.

The effort, led by a German nonprofit group and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture working with local government, is the culmination of a major philosophical shift among preservationists in the region. It seeks to reverse a 50-year history during which preservation, by myopically focusing on restoring major architectural artifacts, sometimes destroyed the communities around them. Other restoration efforts have also sparked gentrification, driving the poor from their homes and, at their worst, fostering rage that plays into the hands of militants.

By offering an array of financial and zoning incentives to homeowners and shopkeepers, this approach has already helped stabilize impoverished communities in a part of the world where the most effective social programs for the poor are often still run by extremist organizations like Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The project in Aleppo is quite an exceptional model,” said Daniele Pini, a preservationist who has worked for Unesco, the United Nations cultural arm, throughout the region. In places like Cairo and Jordan, he said, those who would restore historic buildings and those who live in them are often at loggerheads. The Aleppo plan, he said, “allows people to adapt the old houses to the needs of modern life.”

Correcting Past Blunders
The role of postwar urban planning in the rise of fundamentalism is well documented. In the 1950s and ’60s nationalist governments in countries like Egypt, Syria and Iraq typically viewed the congested alleys and cramped interiors of historic centers not as exotic destinations for tourists but as evidence of a backward culture to be erased. Planners carved broad avenues through dense cities, much as Haussmann had before them in Paris. Families that had lived a compartmentalized existence — with men often segregated from women in two- or three-story courtyard houses — were forced into high-rises with little privacy, while the wealthy fled for villas in newly created suburbs.

But while preservationists may have scorned Modernist housing blocks, they were often just as insensitive to the plight of local residents who got in their way. Even as they worked to restore architectural monuments in the Muslim world, they could be disdainful of the dense urban fabric that surrounded these sites. Neighborhoods were sometimes bulldozed to clear space around landmarks so they would be more accessible to tourists.

Agencies like Unesco often steered governments toward a Western-style approach to preservation. Traditionally a family might have built onto a house to accommodate a newly married son, for instance, adding a floor or a shop out front. But those kinds of changes were often prohibited under preservation rules.

“The word ‘athar’ — ‘antiquities’ — became a horrible word because it meant preserving our houses but not our traditions,” said Omar Hallaj, the chief executive of the Syria Trust for Development and a preservationist who has worked in Syria and Yemen.

These tensions grew with the boom in global tourism, as cities around the world sought to give travelers the “authentic” experience they craved, but in a safe, tidy and germ-free environment. The Old City of Damascus, for example, has in the last decade become a major draw both for the international tourist set and for Arabs who began traveling closer to home after Sept. 11. According to informed estimates, the number of foreign visitors to Syria has quadrupled over the last five years.

Even as the city government races to preserve its character, its courtyard houses are being converted into boutique hotels and fashionable restaurants. Many 20th-century structures — including impressive examples of early modern architecture from the time of the French mandate period — remain unprotected. The city has introduced incentives to keep some homeowners, but many preservationists think it’s too late.

Militant Islamic hardliners, meanwhile, have had equal disdain for both the modernizers and for the preservationists, many of them Western, who followed them.

“I remember when we first moved into the city of Zabid in Yemen, the local imam started going to the mosque saying, ‘The Germans are here to transform your towns into cabarets and brothels,’ ” Mr. Hallaj said.

What many militant extremists are fixated on is a utopia of the past: a vision of Islam in the era of the Prophet. Not only Western influence, but also three centuries of Ottoman rule — the period when the fabric of most Arab cities was created — is seen as a form of corruption.

“What is interesting about this whole argument between the modernizers on the one hand and fundamentalists on the other is that it all happens on the level of ideology,” Malise Ruthven, a historian who has written books on Islamic fundamentalism, said in a recent interview. Mohamed Atta, the central planner of the 9/11 attacks, once wrote an urban planning thesis on the Old City of Aleppo in which he said he wanted to tear out centuries’ worth of buildings, Mr. Ruthven said. He dreamed of “an Islamic city that was pure and unchanged — frozen in aspic.”

Benefits for Residents
At first sight the plan for Aleppo’s rehabilitation may not seem a radical departure from preservation as usual. Led by GTZ, a nonprofit organization owned by the German government, it began with a two-year analysis of the city’s historic structures that included hundreds of interviews with residents.

With GTZ’s guidance the government began laying more than 323 miles of sewage and water pipes, removing the webs of dilapidated electrical wiring that stretched across its alleyways and replacing missing cobblestones. To encourage building owners and their tenants to stay, the group set up a pilot program that offered interest-free construction loans. For those who accepted, it helped ensure that any renovations followed preservation guidelines.

“The rationale was that if the state is forcing preservation on people,” Mr. Hallaj said, “then the state has a responsibility to pay for that burden. So if they want a historical hand-carved window instead of an aluminum one, the state pays the difference.” Other incentives were put in place to encourage local businesses to stay — the kind of small neighborhood commercial establishments whose importance was championed by urban thinkers like Jane Jacobs.

What makes the project such an auspicious model for the region, though, is its clear grasp of how architecture can both shape and define relationships among social groups. Long before developers got an inkling of what was going on, GTZ and its government partners divided the Old City into zones, with new hotels and restaurants confined to two areas, one around the Citadel and the other in the Jdayde neighborhood. (GTZ describes Jdayde as an area of crooked streets and tiny shops with a large Christian population that would be more accepting of tourists than some of the more heavily Muslim areas.)

These zones, in turn, are being anchored by increasingly ambitious — and often architecturally magnificent — public spaces. The first, Al-Hatab Square in Jdayde, is a small patch of stone shaded by a few trees. Once partly built over with squalid sheds, the square has become a vibrant mix of Syrian families and foreign tourists, framed by old jewelry shops, fish markets and cafes.

It has been a decade since the Aga Khan Trust for Culture began its meticulous restoration of the Citadel. Its enormous moat was cleared of garbage and lined with low-growing plants. The ruins of houses and shops built by Ottoman soldiers stationed here in the 18th century, and destroyed in the 1828 earthquake were torn down. The mazelike interior walls — a monument to medieval paranoia designed to keep invaders from reaching the court’s inner sanctum — were cleared of rubble.

Just as important is the social vision behind it. The road surrounding the Citadel, which choked it with cars and exhaust fumes, has been replaced by a pedestrian walkway bordered by the newly landscaped moat on one side and scattered historical buildings on the other. Many of these are being beautifully restored, including a palatial 1930 neo-Classical structure that is being transformed into a hotel by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. But if some of them — former government ministries built during the early half of the 20th century — are being turned into luxurious hotels for the wealthy, it is the buildings, not the public, that seem to be confined behind iron gates.

What’s particularly striking is the sense of shared ownership and belonging. The poor seem as comfortable strolling along the Citadel’s paths as the rich, which is all the more striking given that Syria is controlled by the authoritarian government of Bashar al-Assad and the ruling Baath Party. It is a expression of how public space, when thoughtfully designed, can promote a more egalitarian vision of civic life.

This atmosphere filters into the surrounding streets. The cobblestones look freshly scrubbed; the heavy wood shutters that front the old shops have yet to acquire the patina of age. But the clash of historical styles and eras that shaped Aleppo — and that made it one of the world’s great cosmopolitan centers — have not been smoothed over. And for the moment at least, you get the encouraging feeling that it is possible to push back at the forces of displacement. It’s a city being adapted for human beings, not for some abstract vision of a global consumer.

There is more to come. A few months ago the Aga Khan Trust for Culture began building the foundations for the 42-acre park in an impoverished neighborhood just outside one of the gates of the Old City. This hilltop site is now strewn with garbage. A sprawling asphalt parking lot borders it on one side; crumbling modern apartment blocks — the kind that 9/11’s mastermind envisioned demolishing — and decrepit 19th-century houses line the other.

The project, which is being modeled on an earlier one in Cairo, Al-Azhar Park, will feature rambling walkways and gardens with views over the Old City to the refurbished Citadel. The trust plans to train local people in traditional crafts like carpentry and stonecutting so they can take part in the park’s construction.

In a speech he gave in Aleppo two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Aga Khan described his mission as creating an intellectual garden “where there would be no possibility of suffocation from the dying weeds of dogma” and “beauty would be seen in the articulation of difference,” a statement crystallizing what preservationists hope will happen now in Aleppo.

A Search for Continuity
The tricky question — and the one that may have the most longstanding impact for the Middle East — is whether Aleppo can carry its vision of social and historical continuity into the future. The government recently started an architectural competition for a new cultural complex that will include a 1,600-seat opera house, library and exhibition space in an area built during the French mandate.

And the city’s mayor, Maan Chibli, said that he recently asked GTZ to help plan for the redevelopment of the informal ramshackle settlements that have sprouted on Aleppo’s outskirts.

“These settlements date from the 1970s,” Mr. Chibli said. “They are part of a social pattern that leads back to the old villages. Someone arrives, then his brother follows. So the idea, as before, is not to destroy these areas. It is to begin by providing them with infrastructure and services, then work programs.”

But how to make the final link between historic preservation and the creation of a contemporary city remains blurry. Many preservationists working here, including some at GTZ, see the last 70 years as unworthy of their interest. And most contemporary architects, whose clients are almost uniformly drawn from the global elite, are out of touch with the complex political realities of the poor in the region.

These are not merely esoteric issues. They have to do with the real lessons that cities like Aleppo and Damascus can teach. Their power is not just the beauty of historical layers. It is that the coexistence of those layers, often piled one on top of the other, embodies a world in which every generation — including ours — has the right to a voice and individual creativity triumphs over ideological difference. It is the point at which tradition and modernity are no longer in violent conflict.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Historical Qazi Garden To Be Restored In Old Kabul

December 27, 2010 by ismailimail Leave a Comment

In humanitarian news, the United States donates US$533,000 to restore a historic Afghan garden. The US Agency for International Development is collaborating with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Kabul Municipality to complete phase two of the project to replenish Kabul’s historic Baghe Qazi garden.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nizamuddin area to get a facelift
Jyoti Rai
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
The Hazrat Nizamuddin area may soon see a makeover as the streetscaping, electricity and water plans for the area that houses many of the Capital's historical monuments are finally under the planning stage.

The initial proposal floated by the Aga Khan Trust Foundation has been approved and the details are now being worked upon by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. As per the memorandum of understanding (MoU), the urban renewal project of the area is being jointly looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), MCD and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The area was supposed to get a facelift for the Commonwealth Games, but the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was unable to finish the project on time. Now, the task has been taken up again and is likely to be completed by the next year. If all goes according to the plan, the project would ensure better footpaths, greener roads, an enhanced storm water drainage system and cleaner community toilets.

The Hazrat Nizamuddin area is broadly classified into three zones: the Nizamuddin Basti, Sunder Nursery and the Humayun Tomb. The basti has been a challenging area as it required strong cooperation amongst all the MoU partners and after a lot of consideration, the plans have taken off.

"The MCD held consultations with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture before going ahead with the project. The Nizamuddin Basti sees thousands of visitors every day and it is necessary for the place to be restored in a way that would make the visitors and the residents feel comfortable," said Farhad Suri, councillor of the area.

The first phase, which would take five months for completion, would comprise hard landscaping or concrete work on Dargah and Market Street, Ghalib Road, Plaza and Baoli Gate.

According to the redevelopment plan, the MCD will construct toilets, special parking and foothpaths. In the first phase, all the overhead cables in the area will be made underground.

"We have paid Rs 50 lakh to BSES for this work. They are likely to start the work sometime next week. Once this is over, we will start the streetscaping project," said Suri.

"The basti has a dense population and attracts even international visitors and pilgrims every year. In order to improve the quality of life of the residents, it was necessary to carry out a major street revamp by providing interlocking tiles and relaying of storm water drain wherever required," said a senior MCD official.

Added Ratish Nanda, project head, Aga Khan Trust Foundation, "One has to cross the basti to reach the dargah or other important historical monuments. There is a need to beautify all the five approaches to the dargah and for this the MCD has given approval of Rs 9 crore for the project."


Nizamuddin gets a makeover
February 03, 2011 9:00:26 PM

Architect Archana Saad Akhtar has designed digital photo prints and paintings to highlight the restoration work at the heritage sites in Nizamuddin. Ila Sankrityayan reports

Huge wooden frames with an explanatory notes on history, architecture and restoration work undertaken at the heritage sites are greeting the visitors walking past the Humayun Tomb these days. The wooden projections specially designed by architect and designer Archana Saad Akhtar are installed at the tomb under the programme Site Exhibit.

The frames use digital prints to showcase the restoration work and the ongoing projects undertaken by Aga Khan Trust for Culture at the heritage sites in Nizamuddin. The objective of the entire programme is to give the visitors and tourists information about the Mughal architecture and culture. The digital prints of photographs, paintings and bilingual text explain the character, rise and reign of emperor Humayun.

“We need to know about the history of our monuments and we should be aware of the work being done by the Trust to protect these sites. I was always interested in historical interpretation and wanted to do something for preserving the heritage. Besides the restoration work being done at the tomb, the project includes the development work at Hazrat Nizamuddin basti and Sunder Nursery,” informs Akhtar.

The restored cells on the ground floor of the west gateway of the tomb have been used to install this exhibition. 12 panels and an architectural model in the north wing contain text and pictures related to Humayun’s Tomb while eight panels on the south side explain the ongoing Urban Renewal Partnership project. “The exhibition was installed following cultural Secretary’s direction, issued to provide more information to the visitors,” says Akhtar.

The conservation work highlighted in the exhibit includes removal of 20th century cement and replacement with lime plaster, restoring hand crafted sandstone screens and providing new sandstone flooring.

The exhibit also features heritage conservation, socio-economic, urban and environment development.

Heritage Conservation

Exhibit highlights conservation work at Humayun’s Tomb complex, Sunder Nursery monuments and Hazrat Nizamuddin basti. “The mausoleum of Humayun was built in 1565 AD and established the paradigm for Mughal architecture in the context of setting and craftsmanship. Its peripheral buildings were found to be in urgent need of conservation, and preservation works are now being carried out on the main mausoleum and other buildings within the complex such as the monumental gateways and pavilions,” explains Akhtar.

The conservation of Sunder Nursery, that stands on the Grand Trunk Road and is home to several significant monuments dating from the 16th century, is also a part of the exhibit. The next part is the conservation of Nizamuddin basti that falls on the west of Humayun’s Tomb and is a store of landmark structures built during the Mughal and pre-Mughal period.

Socio-Economic Initiatives

The exhibit also focusses on three major areas, urban improvement and health and education measures undertaken by Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). “Their goal is to offer a hygienic environment to those residing in the area. AKDN is aiming at lifestyle changes, accessible and improved health care for women and children in the area,” she elaborates and adds, “There are theatre, painting and craft workshops being organised for the awareness of youth in the basti.”

Environment Development

The environmental development initiatives include re-development of Sunder Nursery into an urban park with a significant ecological resource, the landscaping and ecological treatment of the Barahpulah nallah in Nizamuddin basti and the rehabilitation and development of the Nila Gumbad park besides landscaping of urban parks within the basti. “Work in Sunder Nursery and the development of urban parks in Hazrat Nizamuddin basti is already underway,” concludes Akhtar.

Last edited by kmaherali on Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Urban renewal through cultural revitalisation transforms Mughal monument into a locus of opportunity for residents

A view of the western facade of Humayun’s tomb after the garden restoration was completed. Conservation work on the mausoleum is ongoing. Photo: Courtesy of AKTC

Aftab Jalia works with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Delhi, and, as Project Architect for the Sunder Nursery, is part of an initiative to revitalise the area surrounding Humayun’s Tomb and Gardens and improve the quality of life of the residents in the neighbouring Nizamuddin district. A graduate of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, he shares some insight on the progress of the project and its impact on the surrounding community.
» Also see related photo gallery

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India’s independence, Mawlana Hazar Imam gifted the restoration of the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — to the country. The 450-year-old Mughal monument is the resting place of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, and is popularly known as an artistic precursor to the 17th century monument the Taj Mahal. The success of the restoration — which was undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in 2003 — led to a larger “Urban Renewal Initiative” in the neighbouring Nizamuddin District.

A young girl from Nizamuddin Basti cuts sanjhi patterns. Raising awareness among residents about the rich cultural heritage of the neighbourhood they live in is part of the conservation effort. Photo: Courtesy of AKTC

Initiated in 2007, the urban renewal aims to revitalise the cultural and built heritage on the site of the Tomb — the historic Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, (which predates the Tomb by almost two centuries) and the adjacent Sunder Nursery. The project is visionary as it brings together five institutions: Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Central Public Works Department, the Aga Khan Foundation and AKTC in a public-private partnership. It is notable for combining conservation with environmental and socio-economic development, while working with local communities and stakeholders.

One of the initiative’s achievements is the organisation of a handicrafts exhibition by women of Nizamuddin Basti at Delhi’s renowned Dastkar Mela in October. Through a self-help group created by AKTC, the women produced exquisite paper products such as book covers, lanterns, lamp shades, greeting cards and wall hangings. In addition to generating a source of income, the group affords the women a creative outlet for expressing their ideas through this traditional Indian craft.

A dense ensemble of medieval Islamic buildings, the Nizamuddin Basti is the resting place of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, one of India’s most venerated Sufi saints. As part of the urban renewal initiative, young boys from the Basti received months of instruction about the rich cultural heritage of their neighbourhood and now conduct heritage walks. They have also benefited from English language and computer training programmes.

In March 2010, AKTC organised “Jashn-e Khusrau”, a festival of qawwali and other Sufi traditions of music and poetry that drew 10 000 people from across Delhi to the Nizamuddin Basti. Photo: Courtesy of AKTC

The initiative has gone even further: organising a festival of Qawwali and other Sufi music traditions that drew 10 000 people from across Delhi to the Basti; redeveloping a local primary school and enhancing its curriculum; and, improving sanitation and hygiene conditions through the construction of public toilet facilities, which are managed by residents who have been trained through the project.

“It is a remarkable initiative,” said Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India during a visit to the Basti in February. “I had attended the first meeting when the idea of conserving the Tomb was conceived and I am glad to see the work done here. It is commendable and quite in keeping with AKTC’s work across the world.”

On the opposite side of Humayun’s Tomb and Garden complex, conservation work on the 70-acre Sunder Nursery is underway, which will see it transformed into a public park. When completed in 2012, the garden will contain over 300 species of plants and trees dotted with monuments. A nine-acre dedicated micro-habitat zone features plants and trees that can be found in the forests of Delhi and surrounding areas. A planned interpretation centre will invite students and nature lovers to further explore aspects of the park that are unique to the-region. Its proximity to Humayun’s Tomb is expected to make it a thriving hub of ecological and cultural activity for the citizens of Delhi and tourists alike.

Workers plant on the micro-habitat mounds in Sunder Nursery in March 2010. Photo: Courtesy of AKTC

Indeed, the rush of visitors has already begun. In November the President and First Lady of the United States, Barack and Michelle Obama, toured the Mughal monument for 45 minutes and were visibly impressed.

“Through the rise and fall of empires, Indian civilisation has endured and led the world to new heights of achievement,” wrote the President in the visitor's book. “The world owes a profound debt to India and its people.”

December 30th, 2010 by Kavya

The Delhi Urban Platform in collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network invites you to a discussion on-

Heritage and the City

4 pm, Saturday the 8th of January 2011, the South Gateway to Humayun’s Tomb


Az naksh o nigar dar o divar shikasteh

Asar padidast sanadid ‘ajam ra

From the images and designs of the broken walls and gates

Are seen the traces of the noblemen of ‘Ajam (Persia)

n ‘Urfi (d. 1560)

This sh’er was used by Sayyad Ahmad Khan as the prelude to his magisterial book on the ruins of Delhi, the Asar-us-Sanadid (1847, 1854)

In Delhi we are surrounded by dar o divar shikasteh, the broken walls and gates of ruins and monuments, remainders (and reminders) of the city’s pre-modern past. A set of volumes that painstakingly documents these extant remains calls them the city’s “built heritage” – and a dominant understanding of these ruins sees them as Heritage. But the word itself seems to be little thought about in public discourse.

Heritage cannot be understood without the concept of inheritance. If we think of these buildings as heritage then what exactly is inherited through these buildings? And who is it that inherits? Is inheritance (and hence, Heritage) universal; or is it about individuals, families, communities? These questions become crucial in a city where the traces of the past are often enmeshed in legal, political and commercial struggles. Struggles which are not ends in themselves, but which determine how we relate to the city’s past, inhabit its present, and imagine its future.

To think through the problematics of heritage and the city, we bring together a panel consisting of archaeologists, conservationists, historians, journalists and religious leaders; who will approach the issue of heritage through their own experiences and engagements with the city and its pasts. The discussion will take place near the Southern Gateway of the Humayun’s Tomb Complex.


Ratish Nanda, Consevationist, Aga Khan Development Network
AGK Menon, Urban Planner and Conservation consultant
KK Mohammad, Director, Delhi Circle, Archaeological Survey of India
Sunil Kumar, Professor of History, Delhi University
Farid Nizami, Naib Sajjadah, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin
Mayank Austen Soofj, Blogger, Writer and Journalist

Venue and Access:

The panel will be held in the South Gateway to Humayun’s Tomb. Access is through the conventional ticketed entry at the main gateway to the complex, and then walking into the Humayun’s Tomb enclosure through the western (standard) gate. Once inside the charbagh of the main tomb, the southern gateway is diagonally to your right, across the lawns.

As this is an ASI protected site, you will have to pay the entry fee to enter the site. While this is a nominal amount for South Asian citizens and Indian residents (10 rupees); it is a much higher charge for foreign visitors (250 rupees/5dollars). We apologize for this, and urge you to make the most of your money by coming in a couple of hours before the event and exploring the vast grounds of the complex and the many different structures present, and soaking in the January sun.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Global Adviser
Five Reasons to Visit Aleppo: Silk Road Splendor
By Gail Simmons Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010,31542,2036101,00.html

In distant times, it flourished as one of the western extremities of the ancient Silk Road before being ransacked by Mongols and devastated by earthquakes. These days, however, the northern Syrian city of Aleppo is acquiring a renewed appreciation of its monumental past, sprucing up its historic Citadel and medina with the help of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Other aspects of this ancient city's allure — like the heady mix of cultures from Kurdish to Armenian and Circassian — have never changed. Here are five Aleppo essentials.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

3-year standoff ends, Nila Gumbad to be part of Humayun Tomb complex

New Delhi : A year and several frantic letters to the Prime Minister and senior Railways officials later, a plot of land surrounding the Nila Gumbad has been handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). With this, the Mughal-era monument abutting the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb will finally be integrated with the Tomb Complex.

Following a three-year long standoff between the ASI and Railways, the two bodies have finally resolved the issue of land transfer. Sources said that the move came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened and sought a status report on the issue following newspaper reports and letters from ministers and conservationists seeking his intervention.

“A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the ASI and Railways about two weeks ago. Land approximately 42 m on north and south and about 8 m east of Nila Gumbad has been transferred to the ASI for integration with the Humayun’s Tomb and development of the monument,” said a senior Railways official.

The ASI and Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which is working on the Humayun’s Tomb Complex as part of its urban renewal plan in the area, will now be able to integrate the Nila Gumbad with the Complex. The Mughal-era monument is said to be originally linked to the Humayun’s Tomb but was separated in the 1970s when a sewer line and a road cut through the plot. The integration, now, is expected to facilitate easy visitor access to the Nila Gumbad and also in re-develop the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Burnaby mayor excited as Aga Khan park gift progresses

By KIM PEMBERTON, Vancouver Sun January 13, 2011

METRO VANCOUVER -- Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the city is very excited they were chosen by the Aga Khan Foundation to receive a gift of a nearly 14-acre community park in central Burnaby, when typically Vancouver is chosen for substantial financial gifts of this kind.

Although Prince Aga Khan announced his intention to build a park for the community two years ago, on his 50th jubilee celebration, it is again in the news as nine public consultation meetings for it ended Thursday. (The public still has time to send in their ideas for the park directly to Burnaby Parks Department before the representative for the Aga Khan Foundation receives the information later this month.)

Corrigan said he had the honour of meeting the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili people two years ago who told him "he's never forgotten Burnaby was the first site of a mosque in B.C. and welcomed the Ismaili community."

"He has built parks around the world. The most recent one in Cairo. This is a mandate he's taken on to create these oasises in different parts of the world," said Corrigan. "We're pretty honoured to be the city picked for this special gift. It will be a wonderful addition to Burnaby Lake Regional Park."

Corrigan added usually "Vancouver is always the place where all the focus goes so to have Burnaby chosen is a real feather in our cap."

The park will be on 13.7 acres of land, west of the Ismaili worship centre just east of Highway 1.

Corrigan said he suspects the park will be a passive recreation area that will focus on the environment — the natural birdlife and wildlife in the area. He said because it is near the Kensington Sports complex he believes many parents taking their kids there for sporting events would likely later enjoy a leisurely walk in the park with them.

He didn't know when the park would be completed, saying no timetable or budget has been made for it.

"We're in the first stages and starting to see plans coming together. I understand he (the Aga Khan) takes a direct hands-on approach. He has a love for architecture and landscape architecture.

"This is a very auspicious project and follows on the heels of the Ismaili Museum in Toronto. The Ismaili community believes strongly in Canada which is the model for multiculturalism."

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Community 'honoured' to be site of Aga Khan park

By Kim Pemberton, Vancouver Sun January 14, 2011

Burnaby will be home to a large new swath of park land, thanks to the generosity of the Aga Khan Foundation.

Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan says he and his constituents are excited their city was chosen by the foundation to receive a public park in the heart of their community, particularly because Vancouver is often chosen for substantial gifts of this kind.

Prince Karim Aga Khan announced his intention to build a park for the community two years ago -- at his 50th jubilee celebration -- but it became more of a reality Thursday as nine public consultation meetings for the park wrapped up. (The public still has time to send ideas for the park directly to the Burnaby Parks Department before the representative for the Aga Khan Foundation receives the information later this month.)

Corrigan said he had the honour of meeting the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims two years ago. He told Corrigan that "he's never forgotten Burnaby was the first site of a mosque in B.C. and welcomed the Ismaili community."

"We're pretty honoured to be the city picked for this special gift. It will be a wonderful addition to Burnaby Lake Regional Park."

Corrigan added, "Vancouver is always the place where all the focus goes, so to have Burnaby chosen is a real feather in our cap."

The park will be on about 5½ hectares (nearly 14 acres) of land, west of the Ismaili worship centre just east of Highway 1. Corrigan said he suspects the park will be a passive recreation area that will focus on the environment: the natural birdlife and wildlife in the area.

He didn't know when the park would be completed, saying no timetable or budget has been made for it.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a related video linked at:

The Project

A landmark Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) project in New Delhi, India, the Urban Renewal Initiative is making enormous strides in revitalizing and unifying the three historical sites of Humayun’s Tomb, Nizamuddin Basti and Sunder Nursery into one unique heritage precinct. Powered by a non-profit public-private partnership between various agencies, the project is the first of its kind to combine conservation with environmental and socio-economic development while working with local communities and stakeholders. This initiative brings together world-class professional capabilities in all relevant areas and combines a visionary approach with local contexts and complexities. It is establishing an archetype for participatory conservation-led development of historic cities
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Global Adviser
Next Time You Are in ... Cairo

By Cathryn Drake Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

A walk down the main thoroughfare of Darb al-Ahmar is a fascinating, raucous look at daily life in the Egyptian capital: you get honked aside by trucks and motorcycles, sideswiped by donkey carts and greeted enthusiastically by children. The area is home to the poorest population in the city, but these days many of its once decrepit mosques and palaces, from the Fatamid to the Ottoman eras, are being restored under the auspices of the Aga Khan Development Network's (AKDN) Historic Cities project.

The project has offered not only architectural but also social regeneration. Residents of Darb al-Ahmar are being trained at restoration sites as a way to revive traditional skills and ensure future maintenance of the monuments. "Crafts development is important to the economic sustainability of the people," AKDN preservation manager Dina Bakhoum says. A renovated square at the 14th century Aslam al-Silahdar Mosque allows neighborhood artisans to sell their wares. Local shopkeepers have also started stocking items catering to the burgeoning tourist trade, but the area's residential character is being strictly maintained. (See 50 essential travel tips.)

With a panoramic view of the Saladin Citadel from its gorgeous vernacular-style Citadel View restaurant, the tranquil Al-Azhar Park makes an ideal jumping-off point on this newly rich tourist itinerary. A pristine oasis built on a 500-year-old dump, Al-Azhar is the green heart of the new restoration work. One of its gates opens onto the famous City of the Dead (a vast cemetery whose mausoleums serve as makeshift homes to more than half a million living souls and their flocks of goats and cows) and, midway down the park's Ayyubid wall, a stairway in the Bab al-Mahruqi gate leads into Darb al-Ahmar and Aslam Square. This is the nexus for the principal sites of Old Cairo, with the Sultan Hassan Mosque and the Citadel to the south and Khan al-Khalili to the north.

Darb al-Ahmar's main street, Darb Shouglan, runs south past barbershops, mechanics and cafés lined with shisha smokers to the medieval Blue Mosque, so called for its colored tilework (final restorations are scheduled for completion in 2012). Farther on is the area's biggest concentration of renewed historic buildings: some Ottoman houses, the Khayer Bek Mausoleum and Mosque, the Alin Aq Palace and the Mausoleum of Tarabay al-Sharifi. From there, the intersecting Bab al-Wazir street leads straight to the massive 10th century Bab Zuweila gate, past the Bayt al-Razzaz palace (refurbished by the American Research Center in Egypt), the mosque and madrasah of Umm al-Sultan Sha'ban and the minaret of Zawiyyat al-Hunud — and beyond, to where the redesigned Islamic Art Museum has just opened to rave reviews.

The next phase of the AKDN project is the new Museum of Historic Cairo and commercial complex, which will connect to a promenade alongside Al-Azhar Park. All of this work is being seen as a prototype for similar AKDN projects in Muslim districts around the world, like New Delhi's squalid Nizamuddin Basti quarter (already initiated with the renovation of Humayun's Tomb and gardens, upon which the Taj Mahal is patterned). (See pictures of women in Cairo.)

As Darb al-Ahmar's cacophonous symphony of horns softens toward sundown and the calls to prayer crescendo and intertwine, it reveals a quieter face. "Welcome! Are you lost?" a café denizen calls out. When I smile and shake my head, he beams and answers his own question with "Not yet!" The warmth of the encounter reflects the work being done in Darb al-Ahmar. This is not a soulless tourist zone, but a heritage-rich city center, full of friendliness, vitality and a new pride.

Got an awful travel gripe? The Avenger may be able to sort it out for you. Click here to tell us your problem.,31542,2044637,00.html
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pages from the diary of a mighty monarch

On a bright winter morning lines of plane trees and immaculately tended rose bushes fall away down terraces where men crash out on carpets and sheepish young couples sit as close together as they dare. The plants are fed by a central water channel, the signature feature of a Mughal garden. Below is the brown smog of Kabul; beyond, snowy mountains.

The tomb of Babur, the first Mughal emperor, blasted and pock-marked during the civil war of the 1990s, has been lovingly restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Some visitors come because it is now Kabul's most tranquil public space; some because Babur is emerging as an unlikely national hero in a country short of leaders worth admiring. People pray at the foot of his low, simple grave. One enthusiast sacrifices a buffalo to him every year and distributes the meat to the gardeners who tend the place.

Born far to the north of modern Afghanistan, Babur went to Kabul only because he had failed in Central Asia. It was Samarkand he dreamt of capturing. Yet when the demands of building an empire drove him south, he yearned to return to Kabul.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BSES to remove dangling cables from Nizamuddin Basti

NEW DELHI: The heritage-rich Nizamuddin Basti area will soon sport a new look. As part of beautification plans for the area, power distribution company BSES Rajdhani will soon be starting the process of shifting all overhead dangling cables underground. Along with this, the conventional power sub-stations in the area will also be replaced with compact, packaged sub-stations.

The Nizamuddin Basti redevelopment plans are part of a MoU signed between the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). "Upto Rs 11 crore will be spent on the improvement of the basti which has been sanctioned by MCD and will be released in instalments. The first part includes shifting of overhead electric cables underground and about Rs 65 lakh has been sanctioned for this. After this, we will also start streetscraping - the first stretch being taken up being the road leading from Mathura Road to the Dargah,'' said councilor Farhad Suri, who is spearheading the campaign to improve quality of life in Nizamuddin Basti.

Nizamuddin Basti is listed as one of the five conservation areas in Delhi under the Master Plan 2021 and is unique because a number of centrally-protected monuments including Nizamuddin baoli, Bara Khamba, Mirza Ghalib's tomb, Atgah Khan's tomb, etc., can be found here. "After shifting of electric cables, we will also take up drainage work here. Construction of parking lots is also on our agenda and we have identified land where we will construct the first parking lot for upto 120 vehicles. A number of tourists visit the Dargah and parking is a hassle for them. Even residents of the basti do not have parking space,'' added Suri. Officials said that upliftment plans for the basti will take upto a year, following which Nizamuddin Basti will have a complete makeover. "Educational programmes for children and employment for women in the basti is already underfoot. While a number of women from the basti are self-employed into jaali making, kids are being trained to become tourist guides. This helps them have a better sense of belonging for the basti,'' said an AKTC official.

Officials from discom BSES Rajdhani said they, along with AKTC, had a site survey of the basti and demarcated areas where feeder boxes and new sub-stations would be installed. "We have completed the ground work and will begin implementation within a day or two. As per the initial ground work, we will put up 14 new feeder boxes and one model sub-station. The basti has three main lanes and a few artery lanes and we plan to complete the underground cable work by March 31,'' said a senior BSES official. Officials added that another advantage of shifting overhead cables underground was that it would stop any instances of power theft from the area. "The entire concept, however, can be implemented only with the support of the basti locals. Initially there was some resistance to the plans, but with time the residents have become very supportive and want to cooperate with betterment plans for the locality,'' said officials.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A bit of the Cape in searing Mali

February 24 2011 at 11:07am
By Leila Samodien

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Copy of cw Bamako Park fountain


A number of paths converge at a fountain in the centre of Bamako Urban Park

In the dry, scorching city of Bamako, Mali, lies a green oasis inspired by Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and designed by Cape Town engineers.

Up until a few months ago – when the Parc National du Mali was officially opened – the land was made up of thickets of woods and vines which had grown out of control.

But about three-and-a-half years ago, a group of Cape Town-based engineers, who formed the core team, were commissioned to revive the area as an urban park.

The 15ha park was based on the model of Kirstenbosch, which has botanical gardens, as well as conservation land and facilities for recreational activities, such as exercising, concerts and festivals.

“We saw the same opportunity in Mali,” said Anthony Wain, director of Planning Partners International, which designed the park. He said the area had a topography and character similar to Kirstenbosch’s.

The park is set in the beautiful Niger River Valley, and beyond the perfectly maintained garden it extends into a wild escarpment of rocks and a natural wooded area.
Copy of cw Bamako park

A leaf shaped garden with a wide variety of local medicinal plants has been created in Bamako Park


The site is part of a 2 000ha fragmented forest – including a patch of classic savannah trees, many of which were previously chopped down for fire wood.

The park had once been a colonial botanical garden, created by the French in the late 1800s; however, it became rundown over the years because of a lack of attention and resources.

The project was commissioned by Mali’s Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which funded the development of the parkland.

After much planning and a lot of intense labour to get the area in shape, the gates were officially opened to the public in September.

Wain said the main aim of the facility was not to attract tourists, but locals.

Bamako is situated not too far from the desert, so generally, it is a dusty, dirty, densely populated and noisy city.

The park, he believed, offers locals a safe, clean and green place to seek temporary refuge from city life.

He said it not only gives them a much-needed reprieve from the heat – the temperature soars well above 40ºC in summer – but also has a range of facilities, such as a children’s playground, a gym, five restaurants, walkways and trails. It also joins up with the National Museum of Mali on one end.

“The area is fenced all the way around and there are even entry control gates, so there’s a lot of infrastructure involved,” said Wain. “Also, most of the equipment we used, such as the irrigation system, was sourced from Cape Town because there’s very little available in Mali. So, it’s very much a Cape Town effort.”

The park has already proven a hit with locals – there are 500 visitors a day on weekdays, with 1 500 a day at weekends and well over 2 000 on festival days.

A key character of the park is that it is also completely self-sustained, which means it doesn’t have to draw valuable resources from the city.

Francois du Plessis, an irrigation engineer and director at MBB in Stellenbosch, said that besides the irrigation system, they’d also installed systems for sewage and waste water treatment.

The water – which was of an excellent drinking quality – is supplied from an existing borehole and four new ones, and is stored in a 40m³ reservoir at the top of the park.

“A dragline sprinkler irrigation system was installed to cover the park’s 9ha cultural core. The benefit of a dragline system is that it is easy to operate, versatile, can be moved and is simple and fairly inexpensive to install and maintain.”

All of the park’s sewage is treated at an on-site bio-filter plant, the parts for which were shipped to Mali from South Africa and assembled there.

“The future sustainability of these services formed the basis of the designs. It was important to implement systems in the park so that it could function independently from the water and sewer services of Bamako, therefore not putting any further strain on the already stressed systems of the city.”

Wain said that despite having to create the park at a “breakneck speed” of 18 months, there were moments that made it all worthwhile.

“Initially we were faced by an impenetrable woodland thicket covered with vines. Untangling and undressing this mass of vegetation was a slow process but eventually revealed a magnificent cluster of baobab trees.

“The canopies of other trees were raised, grass was planted and traditional parkland emerged with a combination of open glades, diverse in scale and character, and offering a variety of pleasant vistas.”

He would not, however, divulge the cost of the project.

There are plans to extend the park to a size of up to 60ha, and to protect the outlying areas of forest and wetland. - Sunday Argus
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AKTC involved in an urban renewal program at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti in the heart of Delhi

* March 22, 2011, 9:00 AM IST

Urban Journal: Putting the ‘Public’ in Public Spaces

“This area used to be a dump yard with mounds of waste, unkempt parking and was a haven for gamblers. Today it has transformed into a ‘Parda Bagh’ [Literally, a veiled garden, or women's park], which all of us women can use while our children are in school. We now have a space where we can breathe fresh air in the open.”—Sayeeda Begum, Nizamuddin Basti

Land in a city is divided up into private and public land. But not all public land extends itself into useful public space. We understand that public spaces are meant for public use. However, as planners and architects, we often forget to define who this “public” is.

Yet public space that is designed for “anyone” or “everyone” easily converts itself into public space for “no one.”

Without a context or a purpose, public spaces—usually identified in a city with public parks, although many other kinds of space qualify too—degenerate, and end up occupied and used by people whom no one seems to know or “want” to know. Often these spaces don’t just occur in a poorly designed or a poorly kept physical neighborhood, but also reflect a surrounding society that is psychologically detached from those spaces.

Grappling with that was a particular challenge for the urban renewal program at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti in the heart of Delhi. The project, begun in 2007, by the Aga Khan Development Network in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Archaeological Survey of India and the Central Public Works Department, aims to improve the quality of life of the local residents. The work includes efforts to improve local schools and sanitation, provide better health care and create work opportunities, in party by leveraging the area’s medieval heritage.

The biggest challenge we have faced from the beginning is engaging with the community and addressing their needs of physical open space not just by defining how a space should be used, but by identifying and collaborating with the users of that space.

Our starting point for revitalizing the parks in the basti was the people who never use them but live around them—the residents. A qualitative trend analysis of the parks with different stakeholders helped us map the changes in people’s lives over the past few years. It revealed that most of the parks, including some of the largest ones, had not been a part of their lives for perhaps a dozen years, in spite of being right there.

Over that time the spaces experienced the slow process of degeneration till there came a point where it became impossible for a small community of concerned citizens to make a difference in the area. Illegal occupancy, competing ownership claims and a complete free-for-all on use slowly discouraged the most vulnerable—women and children—from using the park.

Prerna Sodhi/The Wall Street Journal
Kesar Jahan, 50, is very excited about the veiled garden. She says it would be the perfect place to catch up with friends after finishing her daily chores.

After a series of consultations, it appeared there was a clear demand for a private and secure open space for the women and young girls, soft play areas for children, a cricket ground for other youngsters, and a multipurpose open ground for public functions. The existing spaces, for the most part, didn’t seem to be able to fulfill any of these roles.

Design ideas and options were then shared with the groups. In our first few options, the designs included “fuzzy boundaries,” where the edges of the parks could also extend themselves to activities intrinsic to the culture—local food vendors and weekly markets. Segregation of parks and streets was achieved through changes in pavement patterns and levels and in some places a low boundary wall that could also be used as seating and allow for a view of the greens as well as of all the activities of the parks. These ideas were then translated into a scale model that was placed in different parts of the basti. The models drew several reactions from residents. Out of these, the following three were the most common:

1. “Where is my house? I hope you have not included it in the park boundary?” (from those living around these parks)

2. I think you have not shown the boundary wall of the parks? What will it be made of?

3. Why have you left space between the parks and the street? We don’t need the vendors and the weekly market is just a one-day affair and can happen on the street!

The focus of the pilot planning effort had shifted completely from the design and use of the parks to their boundaries. When we clarified that that the parks were to look exactly as they were shown—mostly without boundary walls—the reactions were even stronger: “Boundary walls are a must and they have to be put in place.”

The insistence and assertiveness of the residents left little choice for the designer. For most users a sense of security and ownership is critical, and this is especially true for women, children and family groups. In the absence of a cohesive social fabric in a city where individuals and communities from across the country come in search of better livelihoods, feelings of insecurity and of ownership convert themselves into physical elements such as gates and high boundaries.

Prerna Sodhi/The Wall Street Journal
Women visited the garden that is still under construction.

This citywide phenomenon is also true for the small community of Nizamuddin Basti. A broken-down neighborhood fabric is reflected in a physical segregation of space through clearly defined boundary walls that separate public and private (ownership), individual and community and define the limit of “what is mine or my family’s.” The boundary walls also defined the extent of the control that an individual or the community had over a space.

The boundary walls were finally added to the parks as it became evident that that they would help local women develop a sense of ownership towards the parks—as a community rather than just as an individual or a family. A little over a year on from that planning process, the women’s park is nearing completion. Groups of women visit the park to check the progress of the works.

Slowly and steadily the parks are getting their local users back—youth, men, women and children. They are actively expressing their views as a group and the individual claims on park land are fast losing out. Their boundaries of what the neighborhood residents consider “their” space, which earlier only extended to the perimeter of their own homes, are now slowly expanding to also include the open spaces.

What started as a design exercise became a lesson in social change. Two clear user groups emerged—the women and young people who are actively engaging with the renewal program in the overall management and maintenance of these parks. Although the construction works at the space planned to be a cricket ground are still under way, cricket tournaments and basti melas (neighborhood fairs) are now becoming a part and parcel of their lives.

Hopefully tomorrow the high walls will get a little lower, the grills and gates will give way to greens and the notional boundaries of the residents will extend to include the parks, the chowk and the street as well.

Shveta Mathur is an urban planner who focuses on community-driven design. She is presently working with the Aga Khan Development Network on the renewal of New Delhi’s Nizamuddin basti neighborhood. This is the fourth piece in the Urban Journal series.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Demolished site to be integrated with Humayun’s Tomb
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 31, 2011

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) on Tuesday carried out a large-scale demolition at Batashewala complex adjacent to the Humayun’s Tomb after the agency was handed over the plot following a court case. The 10-acre plot thus cleared would now be developed as a char bagh (Mughal style square lawns with water channels in between) and integrated into the World Heritage Site.

“We would rope in the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for the char bagh and conservation of the two heritage monuments inside it,” said ASI Delhi circle chief KK Muhammed.

For over three decades, the Delhi State Bharat Scout & Guides was occupying the Batashewala complex, falling within 100 metres of the Humayun’s Tomb. It had also carried out lot of unauthorised construction, using it for commercial purposes. It was later sealed by the Supreme Court’s monitoring committee. The scout organisation had challenged the allotment of the land to the ASI but the Delhi high court refused it last week.

During the operation, the ASI demolished a swimming pool and several other structures. HTC
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nizamuddin Baoli gets a facelift

The 14th Century Nizamuddin Baoli has been at the centre of feverish conservation efforts, involving extensive technical expertise and community support aimed at bringing alive the heritage site.

Built by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the baoli is being conserved as part of the ‘Humayun’s Tomb-Sunder Nursery-Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal project’ by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in partnership with the Central Public Works Department, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Aga Khan Foundation.

In July 2008, portions of the baoli collapsed, following which extensive repair work had to be carried out. Conservation work on the collapsed portion on the baoli continued through 2010 especially after the relocation of the 19 families who were inhabiting the roof of the baoli, which required urgent repairs.

The families, meanwhile, have been provided alternative plots and houses built by the AKTC.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A new Nizamuddin

Rakhshanda Jalil
reports on the Aga Khan Trust's bold initiative to restore one of South Asia's most historic neighborhoods

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The area around Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi holds an embarrassment of riches. While the tomb itself has been declared a World Heritage Site, little is known about the centuries-old gems that litter its surroundings. The earliest Islamic palace building in India, the Lal Mahal, built by Ghiyas-ud-din Balban in the 13th century, caused this area to be known as Ghiyaspur. And it was to this Ghiyaspur that the venerable Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya came to stay and built his hospice, known to posterity as Basti Nizamuddin. It was here that he lived and preached a message of love and compassion and came, in turn, to be loved by the people of Delhi as Mehboob-e-Ilahi, the Beloved of God. It was here, too, that he found the rarest of rare disciples, Amir Khusro, and together they witnessed the passing of a turbulent era in the history of this city. The first qawwwalis were composed here and it was here that Khusro handpicked a group of singers – the qawwal bachas – and trained them to sing in a new sort of way. As a mark of syncretism and a celebration of pluralism, Basant came to be celebrated with joy and the whole area decorated with yellow flowers – a practice that continues to this day.

Sultans came and went, dynasties rose and fell but the hospice, the Basti Nizamuddin, flourished. Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya died in 1325 at the venerable age of 87 and Khusro, mad with grief, wrote ‘Gori sowe sej par much pe dare kes/ Chal Khusro ghar apne, rain bhayi pardes’. For seven centuries, the great saint’s dargah continued to be venerated, people continued to flock to his grave, and later also to that of Amir Khusro, who lies buried nearby. Soon a cluster of buildings crowded the space around the dargah. These were the baoli and Jamaat Khana Mosque, Chaunsath Khamba, the grave of Princess Jahanara, Kali Masjid, the tomb of Atgah Khan, the mausoleum of Mirza Ghalib, and a little further away, the Chilla Nizamuddin, the Nila Gumbad, Batashewala Complex, Bu Halima’s garden enclosure, Azim Bagh (now known as the Sundar Nursery), Arab ki Sarai and of course the spectacular buildings inside Humayun’s Tomb complex. With princes and sultans vying to be buried close beside the Sufi saint, soon the area acquired a dense mosaic of Islamic architecture dating from the medieval period to the present times. And with this profusion of building activities came a warren of congested human habitation built around a network of narrow lanes and higgledy-piggledy houses that flouted all building laws and regulations.

It is located in the heart of plush South Delhi and draws pious pilgrims from distant corners of the world, but the Basti Nizamuddin area is now one of the most congested, most under-developed, most poorly-served ghettos in this otherwise prosperous part of the capital. Roadside eateries jostle for space with beggars and milling crowds. Infested by drug lords, its narrow lanes have bred petty criminals and wasted youth who have had little or no options for education, recreation or employment. In this dismal scenario, the Aga Khan Trust (AKT) stepped in to forge a public-private partnership propelled on the twin engines of cultural revival and urban renewal. The AKT and a slew of government agencies have taken the Basti Nizamuddin area under their wing and initiated a remarkable series of small changes, each of which will, hopefully, in the years to come snowball into something meaningful and lasting. What is more, it will hopefully also hold out a template for similar projects in cloistered communities that wear their backwardness like an impenetrable cloak of defeat and nihilism.

In keeping with the objectives of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, which has undertaken several urban renewal projects in the Muslim world, in cities such as Cairo, Kabul, Masyaf, Mostar, Samarkand, etc., the emphasis here is on restoring and maintaining the socio-economic and cultural fabric of a designated area. The idea is to make changes sustainable, that is, historic structures are ‘re-animated’ in the context of on-going social and economic change, rather than as an isolated process. All enabling development factors – community support, innovative institutional structures, and commercial potential – are harnessed to make change durable. Individual project briefs go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of the social and environmental context, adaptive re-use, institutional sustainability and training. More importantly, developmental initiatives are not foisted from outside; instead, as Ratish Nanda, the Project Director, says: “Everything happens according to the people’s wishes.”

Like most communities occupying historic spaces, the people of the Basti Nizamuddin area were initially wary of any deviation from a time-honoured way of life. Despite their disenchantment with elected representatives to provide even basic amenities such as schools, dispensaries, parks, libraries, night shelters and livelihood options, the local population was initially sceptical, to say the least. But their scepticism faded when the people realised that the AKT was not in the business of throwing away money; it simply wanted to combine conservation, urban improvements and socio-economic development initiatives to achieve the UN Millennium development goals. Nanda – a highly-trained and experienced conservation architect – stresses that every component of the urban renewal project was conceived to give something back to the people of the community, that even in straightforward conservation the attempt was to involve the local population, train volunteers from the community, and provide market linkages so that the benefits would remain even after the project was completed.

Broadly speaking, the projects undertaken focused on the areas of literacy, livelihood, health, women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. In simpler words, these took the form of customised projects keeping in mind the peculiar needs of this pocket of urban squalor and neglect in a sea of prosperity and upward mobility. For instance, 400 youths and adults were involved in a programme that included adult education, career counseling, vocational training, and skill enhancement. With a focus on women, this included embroidery and dress design and, through the Insha Crafts Centre set up in August 2010, fostering group savings and group enterprise.

Another 500 families were targeted to reach roughly 1000 children in an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme where an existing, poorly-run, ill-attended municipality school was ‘taken over’ and transformed into a model school with state-of-the-art classrooms, trained staff and a whole new approach to imparting education. An English access micro-scholarship programme funded by the US Embassy helps to improve English language skills among 14-16 year olds. A Career Development Centre, operating from four rooms in the School, aims to equip young people with computer skills that will help them enter the formal sector through jobs in retail or the burgeoning BPO industry. A Life Skills module covers those areas usually neglected in formal, structured education such as self-awareness, communication skills, team building, creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and coping with stress and emotions.

A community health programme addresses the most pressing needs of a local population that has long lived in abysmal conditions. To make the programme truly broad based, while there is a well-equipped dispensary and diagnostic centre there is also a focus on improving the standards of hygiene by imparting education on unhealthy living conditions, poor sanitation, and waste disposal systems. As in the school, an existing, poorly-run municipality clinic was transformed into a polyclinic with a bustling gynae OPD and increased visits by specialist doctors. An outreach programme seeks to enhance the capacity of community health workers and train health volunteers who can go into the community and speak about pressing issues such as water-borne diseases, the spread of malaria and dengue (rampant in such areas) as well as raising awareness about AIDS/HIV.

With infrastructure being the first casualty of an over-crowded and densely-populated area, the AKT identified a slew of urban improvement interventions. Beginning with a master plan for the entire area, repair and upgrading of sewage lines and hygienic access to sanitation facilities for residents and visitors to the dargah went hand in hand with beautification and landscaping plans. Signages, improved street lights, recharge pits and water harvesting systems, open spaces for cricket matches, even an Apni Basti Mela, heritage walks, community toilet complexes and a gymnasium, as well as a string of cultural events have revitalised the stagnant pool that the basti had become. Groups of trained volunteers take visitors on heritage walks, further instilling a sense of pride and ownership. The first Jashn-e-Khusro programme last year showcased the basti’s rich cultural life – film screenings, exhibitions, qawwalis, academic discussions, poetry readings, even a dastangoi performance drew the participation of the city’s chatterati.

A zenana park is about to come up in a place that had been forcibly occupied by squatters; so is a baratghar. Trees, flowers, benches, swings shall shortly replace the notorious adda of rag-pickers and drug peddlers. I come away from the basti with the image of the deaf and dumb, one-armed artist busy making a roadside mosaic from bits of coloured glass. A former drug addict, he has been ‘hired’ by the AKT. In his rehabilitation, I see the first glimmer of hope and dignity that these people have been long denied.

Rakhshanda Jalil writes on issues of culture, community and literature
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Germany grants €150,000 for conservation of Chausath Khambha in Nizamuddin
Apr 13, 2011

View of Chausath Khambha complex Enlarge image View of Chausath Khambha complex (© Aga Khan Trust for Culture)

To support the conservation and restoration of a 16th century Mughal-era tomb in New Delhi, Germany has signed an agreement with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on 13 April 2011. The Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs is providing a grant of €150,000 over the next two years for the restoration and urban renewal of Chausath Khambha in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin area.

German Ambassador to India Mr. Thomas Matussek and Project Director for the AKTC Mr. Ratish Nanda, signed the agreement. Also present was Mr. Michael Siebert, Deputy Commissioner of the German Year in India.

“The German government is proud and honoured that we can give our humble contribution to the wonderful work that the Aga Khan Foundation is doing to preserve the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of this holy place,” said Ambassador Matussek during the signing ceremony.

During his visit in October 2010, German Foreign Minister Mr. Guido Westerwelle had pledged his ministry’s support to the AKTC in conserving the Chausath Khambha complex. The aim is not only to preserve an important cultural heritage site, but also to provide the local community with a space to hold large-scale events.

This year, Germany and India celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Beginning in September 2011, a Year of Germany in India titled ‘Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities’ is being organised throughout India. The focus of the Year is ‘CitySpaces’ and will deal with all aspects of urban life and development. The Chausath Khambha is an important city space and will be featured prominently. Project Director for the AKTC Mr. Ratish Nanda and German Ambassador to India Mr. Thomas Matussek Enlarge image Project Director for the AKTC Mr. Ratish Nanda and German Ambassador to India Mr. Thomas Matussek (© German Embassy)

Ambassador Matussek added, “The German contribution is not just a financial contribution, but also a very symbolic political contribution. When we start the Year of Germany in India this summer we hope some of the cultural activities can take place here to underline the importance of what we do together.”

Chausath Khambha is the tomb of Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, the great Mughal Emperor Akbar’s foster brother. The tomb was built in the year 1623-24 A.D.

Conservation of Chausath Khambha will be undertaken as part of the Humayun’s Tomb – Sunder Nursery – Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal initiative, a not-for-profit Public Private Partnership project of the Aga Khan Development Network in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Central Public Works Department. The project is the first of its kind to combine conservation with environmental and socio-economic development while working with local communities and stakeholders.

Project Director for the AKTC Mr. Ratish Nanda, Chief Priest of Dargah Nizamuddin Peer Ahmed Nizami, German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek and Deputy Commissioner of the German Year in India Mr. Michael Siebert Enlarge image Project Director for the AKTC Mr. Ratish Nanda, Chief Priest of Dargah Nizamuddin Peer Ahmed Nizami, German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek and Deputy Commissioner of the German Year in India Mr. Michael Siebert (© German Embassy) Chausath Khambha is so called on account of the 64 columns (Sixty four = Chausath) of the tomb structure. It is a unique structure built entirely of marble and, together with the adjacent tomb of Mirza Ghalib, comprises the largest open space in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.

The monument has suffered severe decay due to excessive water seepage and inappropriate repairs works using modern materials, in the 20th century. The water seepage has resulted in the rusting of the clamps, which in turn have severely damaged the marble. Past repairs in nearly every one of the 25 domed cells have included cementing the broken portions, thereby causing further damage and deterioration of the marble.

Conservation works by AKTC will require partial dismantling of the tomb structure and will take 18 months to complete.

Rs 96 lakh German grant for Mughal-era monument
PTI – Wed, Apr 13, 2011 1:17 PM IST

New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) Restoration and conservation efforts of Chausath Khamba, a 16th century Mughal-era monument in the national capital has received a boost in the form of a grant of Rs 96 lakhs by Germany.

German Ambassador to India, Thomas Matussek today signed a memorandum of understanding with Aga Khan Trust for Culture for restoration and urban renewal of Chausath Khamba.

"We are giving our own contribution for this holy place of Nizamuddin which has rich spiritual heritage. Religion has extended its peaceful message from this place and we want to conserve this heritage for future generations to see," said German Ambassador, Thomas Matussek.

Praising India''s multi-cultural society, he said,"its an example for Germany as majority of Hindus live in peace and harmony with minorities here. Our country is debating multiculturalism. There is need to interact with different communities. You can not live in islands of isolation."

"We can learn from India as different religions have co-existed here for centuries," he added.

Chausath Khamba is the tomb of Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, the great Mughal emperor Akbar''s foster brother. It was built in 1623-24 AD. The monument has suffered severe decay due to excessive water seepage and inappropriate repair work using modern material in 20th century.

"This is the only Mughal-era building fully made up of marble. Its roof has a lot of deposition of concrete and its foundation has also suffered. It needs full restoration. We expect to complete the work in two years," said Ratish Nanda, Project Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Conservation of the tomb will also be coupled with facade and housing improvement of the surrounding houses. The project is the first of its kind to combine conservation with environmental and socio-economic development while working with the local communities and stakeholders.

"Our main purpose is to improve the quality of life of the people living here. We are making roads, parks and school here. Women are also being trained in handicraft work. In all, we want to revive the culture and spirit of Ghalib and Amir Khusrau," said Nanda.

The project will be undertaken as part of the Humayun''s Tomb-Sunder Nursery-Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban renewal initiative, a not-for-profit public private partnership project of the Aga Khan Development Network in association with the Archaeological Survey of India, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Central Public Works Department. PTI RKM ANS
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rehabilitation of historic homes in the Walled City of Lahore

The Federal Republic of Germany provided 9.3 million Pakistani rupees in 2010 and 13.5 million Pakistani rupees in 2011 for the conservation and rehabilitation of multi-storeyed residential buildings in the Walled City of Lahore which date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These houses constitute part of Lahore's historic legacy of architecture and are located in two residential lanes close to Delhi Gate, along the classical “Shahi Guzargah” which leads to the Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort).

The German project is embedded in a series of wider-ranging interventions including a loan from the World Bank as well as technical and financial assistance from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to the Government of Punjab. These interventions entail the upgrading of basic infrastructure as well as façade improvement of buildings in select areas of the Lahore Walled City.

With the historic home improvement project, Germany wishes to contribute to the betterment of living conditions and the reinvigoration of social life in the Lahore Walled City as well as to the conservation of Pakistan's rich urban cultural heritage.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

New Delhi

Celebrating the legacy of Mirza Ghalib

Madhur Tankha

NEW DELHI: To mark World Heritage Day, Aga Khan Trust for Culture is celebrating legendary poet Mirza Ghalib's contribution to enrich the Indian culture with an interesting line-up of programmes at India International Centre here this coming Monday.

“The Poet Within: Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti” will see the screening of a special film on the cultural icon. Titled “Mirza Ghalib” (1954), it was made by yesteryears film-maker Sohrab Modi and starred Bharat Bhushan as Ghalib and Suraiya as courtesan. “The film has been procured from the National Film Archives of India, Pune,” said a spokesperson from Agha Khan Trust for Culture.

A play “Life and Works of Mirza Ghalib” by Sair-e Nizamuddin, a youth group of heritage volunteers from Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, will be staged. Interestingly, the play made under the supervision of Agha Khan Trust for Culture will showcase the skills of young performers. They have undergone a series of story-telling and theatre workshops under the guidance of Vatsala Zutshi and Sanyukta Saha.

The play was first performance at the tomb to a select audience on an experimental basis. “Subsequently, the actors were invited by the Ghalib Academy to repeat their performance on the death anniversary of Ghalib on February 15. Our programme at IIC is an effort to bring this initiative of the volunteers to larger audience,” said the spokesperson.

A recital on the legendary poet will be performed by Begum Muneer Khatoon at the Auditorium.

An exhibition on poets titled “Poets within Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti: Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan Sijzi” will present six sketches of the artist Sadequain (1930-1987) visualising Ghalib's poetry. It will also display copies of illuminated manuscripts of the Diwan of Amir Hasan Sijzi and of the Khamsa of Amir Khusrau from The Walters Art Museum's Collection.
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Following the completion of comprehensive
restoration works, the Ulya madrasa was
handed back in mid-March to representatives
of the Shor Bazaar community in the
Old city of Kabul. The project, part of
AKTC’s multi-year conservation programme
in the Old city of Kabul (See
Newsletter #17, “Road widening in the Old
city’), was undertaken with resources made
available by the US Embassy and included
extensive repairs to the decorated brickwork,
the metal roof, and the two distinctive
rectangular minarets at either end of the
structure. These two three-storey minarets
constitute a visual landmark in the Old City,
showing a characteristic mix of neoclassical
architectural motifs
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

US to Fund Mughal Monument Restoration

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS): In an initiative to support preservation of India's rich heritage, outgoing US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer Wednesday inaugurated the final stage of renovation work of a Mughal monument here and also advanced a grant of $50,000 towards the project.

Restoration work at the 16th century monument Sunderwala Burj, in the vicinity of Unesco World Heritage site Humayun's Tomb, is being undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

"This is a beautiful 16th century Moughal era monument...and also one of our goals is to help the local residents living in the 'basti' (slum). So, with the $50,000 contribution from my fund, we hope to achieve both objectives," Roemer told reporters after laying a stone to mark the beginning of the final stage of renovation.

A total grant of $50,437 (Rs.22 lakh) was given to the Aga Khan Trust from the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.

According to the Aga Khan Foundation, the site is part of the Humayun's Tomb World Heritage Site buffer zone and highlights the contribution of Mughal architecture to Indian culture and heritage.

"The fund is for preserving, restoring and documenting culturally significant sites and traditions. This fund has given approximately $460,000 to preserve more than 10 cultural heritage sites across India," Counselor for Culture at the US embassy Michael Macy told IANS.

"It's one of the key programmes of the US to conserve cultures across the world," he said.


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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The new buzz in Nizamuddin Basti: A gym they can call their own
Sweta Dutta Posted online: Thu May 05 2011, 01:17 hrs

New Delhi : Young college students, housewives and and some serious body-builders trooped into the MCD polyclinic in Nizamuddin Basti to try out the latest range of equipment in the area’s new gym. They checked out the cross-trainers and treadmills and looked forward to a healthy exercise routine starting Thursday, when the gym would open for public use.

The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) planned the facility to fill in the gap of missing open spaces and playgrounds in the area.

“The Basti unfortunately doesn’t have enough playgrounds and open spaces where the residents can go for walks or play. Women in the area are hesitant to go out in the open for walks. Obesity and lack of exercise is leading to various illnesses, especially among the women. They asked me a year ago for a gymnasium,” Farhad Suri, former mayor and area councillor, told Newsline.

The gym will also have a professional instructor.

Surveys showed over 150 men and 60 women in the area were keen to join the gym. “In an effort to make both men and women comfortable, the timings have been kept separate — 6 am to 9 am and 6 pm to 9 pm for men and 2 pm to 5 pm for women,” said Nabeel Khan (21) and Suhaibuddin (23), who helped conduct the survey for AKTC. They also help AKTC conduct its regular heritage walks.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Planning continues for the 13-acre park at Burnaby

Mayor gives 2011 State of the City address

By Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now April 13, 2011


In concert with the dredging of Burnaby Lake, plans are proceeding in the Central Valley precinct. The City and the Aga Khan Development Network are continuing to plan and design a new family-oriented park at the 13-acre site on Sprott Street just west of Kensington Avenue. Material dredged from the Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation project is being placed on a site at Kensington and Joe Sakic Way for future recreation amenity development.

I take particular pride in the fact that we recognized that the cleaned Burnaby Lake dredgate would make perfect fill for nearby playing fields. Not only did this save us untold soil-transport trucking costs and the impact on the environment, but it will also enhance our playing field surfaces.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AKTC's work for preservation of a citadel at Herat


"The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture took over the site, which was full of land mines, in 2005 and it took several months just to remove all of them. The ministry worked very closely with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on the citadel’s preservation. The restoration, which is nearing completion, is the biggest cultural project supported by the US government outside of the US and their contribution is $1.2 million. Qala Ikhtyaruddin will be home to a provincial archaeological museum and archive with funding and technical assistance from the German Archeological Institute and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin."
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pages from the diary of a mighty monarch

Babur's document in words, paintings and architecture shows the many facets that made up the life of the Mughal emperor

On a bright winter morning lines of plane trees and immaculately tended rose bushes fall away down terraces where men crash out on carpets and sheepish young couples sit as close together as they dare. The plants are fed by a central water channel, the signature feature of a Mughal garden. Below is the brown smog of Kabul; beyond, snowy mountains.

The tomb of Babur, the first Mughal emperor, blasted and pock-marked during the civil war of the 1990s, has been lovingly restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Some visitors come because it is now Kabul's most tranquil public space; some because Babur is emerging as an unlikely national hero in a country short of leaders worth admiring. People pray at the foot of his low, simple grave. One enthusiast sacrifices a buffalo to him every year and distributes the meat to the gardeners who tend the place.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Humayun's tomb in Delhi gets makeover to former splendour

Sixteenth century Mughal mausoleum to be restored to original state

The stone plinth being re-laid at Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, which sits over the graves of India’s second Mughal Emperor Humayun, his wife Hamida and five Mughal princes including Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan.

Image 1 of 2

New Delhi: Early in the morning, a posse of nearly 100 masons troop in with their chisels to recast the weathered stones and crumbling lime facades of the 16th century mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun, a family tomb, which is home to 160 graves.

The tomb, one of the country's first garden mausoleums and a Unesco World Heritage Site, is getting a makeover to resemble its original state with a unique not-for-profit private-public conservation project partnered by the Agha Khan Trust for Culture, the Dorabji Tata Trust and the Archaeological Survey of India.

"At the core of the structural renovation project is the restoration of 42 arched bays on the enclosure (outer ramparts) of the tomb which had collapsed with time, and 68 arched alcoves at a lower level," said Ratish Nanda, conservation architect and project director of the Aga Khan Trust For Culture.

"The stonework of the terrace and the elevated plinth in the forecourt have been relaid," he said.

Resting place for royals

The tomb was known to be have been commissioned by Humayun's wife Hamida or Haji Begum, who is also entombed in the mausoleum along with five Mughal princes, including Dara Sikoh. It was built by Persian architect Mirat Mirza Ghiyath.

The three-year renovation project of the tomb began with a memorandum of understanding in 2007. The flowing water channels were rebuilt in the original slope gradient and a large rain water harvesting system, coupled with desilting of Mughal wells, brought the garden back to original, Nanda said.

"We planted 2,500 trees and plants like mango, lemon, Neem, hibiscus and pomegranate, which were favoured by the Mughals," Nanda said.

The red-and-white tomb cast in sandstone and marble, built during 1565-72 AD on the bank of the Yamuna, is typical of the symmetrical Timurid architecture. It is enclosed by high walls on the northern, southern and western sides.
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