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AKTC Work in the world
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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

Photos at:

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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