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.
Nanda, Ratish, and Mohammad Shaheer. "Sunder Nursery Conservation". In Heritage of the Mughal World, edited by Philip Jodidio, 209-217. Munich: Prestel, 2015.
Sunder Nursery, earlier known as Azim Bagh or the “great garden”, was established in the twentieth century to experiment and propagate plants for New Delhi during British colonial times. Within Sunder Nursery and its adjoining Batashewala complex stand seven Mughal-era garden-tombs. The Landscape Master Plan now being implemented at Sunder Nursery aims to link the conservation effort on the standing monuments to create a major landscape space of truly urban scale, deriving inspiration from the traditional Indian concept of congruency between nature, garden and utility, coupled with environmental conservation.
From Sunder Nursery Conservation in Heritage of the Mughal World (Philip Jodidio, editor)