The Batashewala Complex, abutting Humayun’s Tomb Complex stands within the World Heritage Site buffer zone. The
complex comprises: Bara Batashewala Mahal; Chota Batashewala Mahal; an enclosure
wall; and, an unknown Mughal tomb all constructed in the late 16th – early 17th
century. These buildings comprise a unique Mughal era Islamic funerary complex
unlike any other in India.
As with the abutting Humayun’s Tomb World
Heritage Site, that stands within a walled garden enclosure, the structures
known as Bara Batashewala and Chota Batashewala Mahals were actually tombs
located within an arcaded stone masonry enclosure wall (over 1'000m long). The
domed Mughal era tomb, (referred to as unknown tomb) standing at the eastern
end of the complex, stood on an elevated ‘fort- like’ platform, only fragments
of which are now visible. Since I950’s the Batashewala Complex has been in the ownership of Bharat Scouts for use as a camp ground.
After over a decade of persistent requests by conservation groups the ownership
was transferred by the Government of India to the Archaeological Survey of India
in 2010 thus now allowing the possibility of conservation of the monuments that
stand within complex as a whole and in an integrated manner with other monuments that sit in adjacent complexes.
Bara Batashewala Mahalis a 30 m square structure, with five half-domed openings in each one of its four sides, those on the west now collapsed and those on the south inappropriately repaired in the 20th century and now, in order to halt the process of deterioration, requiring partial dismantling prior to repairs.
Chota Batashewala Mahalwas originally a domed octagonal tomb, profusely ornamented but has largely collapsed in the second half of the 20th century. Archival pictures, from the 1960’s, and drawings together with a study of the standing portions of the building provide enough evidence of the original to carry out an informed conservation project aimed at enhancing the historical significance of the site and the understanding of the building for visitors.
The Mughal Tombstanding at the eastern edge of the Batashewala complex, stood on an elevated stone masonry plinth, giving it a fort like appearance. The plinth, mostly covered with vegetation and partially collapsed, is 100 m long and 60m wide. The planned rebuilding of missing portions and conserving standing portions of the plinth would significantly halt further deterioration and enhance the historic character.
The Enclosure Wallof the Batashewala Complex is similar in style to the garden enclosure wall of the Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site and separated only by a narrow street. The profile of the street itself has not changed much in 400 years when it was used by the Mughals to access the river Yamuna. Portions of the wall have collapsed, are covered with vegetation and will need to be recovered and completed on the basis of recently discovered standing portions.
Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Conservation and Landscape Restoration of the Batashewala Garden Tomb
Complex. Delhi: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 2015.
Standing to the north of the
Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site, the 11 acre “Batashewala Complex” includes two Mughal era tomb-garden
enclosures within which stand three tombs, of national importance, and
protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). They are a significant
part of the 16th century Mughal necropolis adjacent to the Dargah of
Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the 14th century Sufi saint who has been revered for
The tomb of Mirza Muzaffar
Hussain, grand-nephew of Emperor Humayun and son-in-law of Emperor Akbar, is
the principal tomb in the complex. The Chota Batashewala and the domed Mughal
tomb can be considered contemporary because of their location in the complex
and their architectural character.
In addition to their historical
significance, their association with the Mughal royal family and the
architectural significance of the unique plan for all three structures, the
tombs stand within a significant archaeological zone comprising of other 16th and
17th century garden-tombs.
The conservation effort, since
2011, has aimed at recovering the architectural integrity of the monuments.
This has been achieved with the use of traditional materials and building
techniques in order to replace 20th century alterations that were carried out
with modern materials, such as cement. Portions of the structures and the
enclosure walls – demolished in 1989 to create a camping ground – have been
reconstructed. The landscape design of the two enclosed gardens is inspired by
the Mughal char-bagh layout, and planted with trees favoured by the
Mughals – mango, neem, and citrus, amongst others.
Restored linkages with other 16th
century garden-tombs standing in the adjacent Sundar Nursery and the Humayun’s
Tomb Complex will also allow visitors an enhanced understanding of this Mughal