Rahim khan-e-khana was one of the nine gems, also known as the ‘navratnas’ of Emperor Akbar. When Rahim was four years old, his father was assassinated on his way to Arabia. Therefore, he was taken care of by the Emperor, and he completed his education there only. He was a great scholar who wrote 700 couplets in the language ‘hindavi’ which are still taught in schools across the country. He had a substantial impact on Mughal policies, administration, and legacy. Hence he was admired by the king. Emperor Akbar got his foster sister and daughter of Shamsuddin Muhammad Atgah married to Rahim. The tomb of Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana was originally built in memory of Rahim’s wife. The first mausoleum that was ever built for a lady. 

Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet1
RAHIM KHAN-E-KHANA TOMB_©INDIANEXPRESS

Significance of the tomb:

The tomb served as a base of inspiration for the design of Humayun’s tomb and the Taj Mahal. Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana’s tomb is located in close vicinity to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah. It was presumed at that time to be auspicious to build a tomb near a holy grave. Later this led to the development of more tombs near that, including the tombs of Mirza Galib with others. However, over time the tombs degraded and were stripped off with the marble on the surface in the 19th century, which was earlier protecting them. 

The fact that the tomb lies near the Mughal Grand Trunk Road (today known as the Mathura Road) and Barapullah nallah gives it considerable historical and cultural significance even though it is the less well-known edifice of the Humayun tomb complex. The couplets composed by Rahim, most commonly referred to as “Rahim k dohe,” are still taught in schools, which makes the restoration more likely. The Aga Khan Trust and Center implemented the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative (AKTC).

Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet2
LOCATED NEAR TO THE GT ROAD_©nizamuddinrenewal

Assessment of degraded condition:

The marble dome’s original finish was obliterated during the 19th-century invasion. As a result, the dome was not protected by the underlying masonry. All of the ornamentations that were abruptly removed will be recreated using the inspiration from the tomb of Humayun. Before laying lime plaster on the ceiling, the outer dome must be stitched. According to some of the archives, the path that leads inside used to have a sliding stone door adjacent to the stairs. But considerable research and effort would enable one to recognize the style and construction of such a door.

Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet3
DOME_©nizamuddinrenewal

Then come the dalans and the terrace of the tomb. As the marble was scraped from the building’s floors and roof, a fresh layer of lime concrete was applied to those surfaces. The inside fractures would be stitched and all decoration would be done to reflect the original state as closely as feasible. Since they are so similar, all of the ornamentations would match that of Humayun’s tomb. The original floor had to be replaced in the main burial chamber when the cement concrete was scraped off. The original wooden entryway and sandstone latticework would also be preserved. The grave chamber of the tomb was supported by columns and had serious structural cracks which needed emergency repair. All the load by the settlement of the floor had resulted in cracks. They were to be stitched again in place without ruining the originality of the dome and plastered in the plaster made of lime.

Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet4
DALANS ON THE TERRACE_©nizamuddinrenewal
Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet5
ORNAMENTATION ON THE PLINTH_SAHIL AHUJA

The philosophy behind restoration:

The Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana was restored primarily because contrary to many other tombs in the Humayun Tomb complex, it has significant cultural and historical value. The area where it was built is great and attracts a lot of attention from tourists, and it is still relevant to the newer generations, namely the students. Lichen growth on the terrace also indicated that the building was not harmed by surrounding street pollution, indicating the need for restoration.

Process of restoration:

Several steps were included in the conservation process, including identification, documentation, importance, conservation philosophy, peer review, conservation plan, supervision, completion report, and publication. When demonstrating the necessity to preserve and restore a certain monument, all the procedures are essential to be included. We must first recognize that, like Rahim’s tomb, it is culturally associated with people and respects experts from various fields, including architects, craftspeople, landscape architects, engineers, and scholars.

Afterwards, documentation is required since it’s necessary to know the current state of the items that need to be restored and how much effort it will require before starting a project. The legacy and style of architecture Rahim has left behind would also be understood via investigation. Understanding the historical significance and the research necessary to recreate the original tomb’s components leads to an appreciation of the importance of preserving this particular building. It should be repaired because, as has been mentioned, it has significant historical and cultural significance and is still relevant to people.

Timeline of Restoration: Tomb of Abdul Rahim Khankhana - Sheet6
CONSERVATION PLAN_©nizamuddinrenewal

The conservation plan outlines every course of action that will be conducted to aid the structure in regaining its original shape. After the job is finished, a report is written detailing the restoration procedure. The repair took place over six years, or 1,75,000 human days, and with the assistance of 3,000 craftsmen. On the 464th anniversary of Rahim’s birth, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel presided and reopened the monument for visitors.

CITATIONS:

ONLINE SOURCES:

(No date) Nizamuddinrenewal.org. Available at: https://www.nizamuddinrenewal.org/conservation/rahims-tomb/images/Tomb-Abdur-Rahim-Khan-Khanan-Conservation-Proposal.pdf (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

 

Divya, A. (2020) “Six-year Project: Behind Rahim’s tomb restoration — 1,75,000 man-days and 3,000 craftsmen,” The Indian Express, 22 December. Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/six-year-project-behind-rahims-tomb-restoration-175000-hours-and-3000-craftsmen-7114373/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Sarfaraz, K. (2020) “Delhi: A restored Rahim’s Tomb opens to public today after six years,” The Hindustan Times, 17 December. Available at: https://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/delhi-a-restored-rahim-s-tomb-opens-to-public-today-after-six-years/story-GfYnTJ4MYnZ0w029NCn3XK.html (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Lakhwani, D. (2020) Tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan I Khan e Khanan | Historical Monuments of Delhi | Places to visit in Delhi. Youtube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08PMS3G8aiE (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

IMAGES SOURCES:

(No date) Nizamuddinrenewal.org. Available at: https://www.nizamuddinrenewal.org/conservation/rahims-tomb/images/Tomb-Abdur-Rahim-Khan-Khanan-Conservation-Proposal.pdf (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Divya, A. (2020) “Six-year Project: Behind Rahim’s tomb restoration — 1,75,000 man-days and 3,000 craftsmen,” The Indian Express, 22 December. Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/six-year-project-behind-rahims-tomb-restoration-175000-hours-and-3000-craftsmen-7114373/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Memories, P. (no date) Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan’s Tomb, New Delhi, Blogspot.com. Available at: http://pixels-memories.blogspot.com/2013/07/abdul-rahim-khan-i-khanans-tomb-new.html (Accessed: October 23, 2022).

Author

Priyanka garg, born and raised in Delhi is a student who has developed interest in architecture. She likes writing, reading and designing. Also, she has a key interest in sustainable and eco-friendly measures for design and construction to make the world a better place to live.

Write A Comment