Germany promises Rs 41.5 lakh for heritage ‘baoli’

New Delhi: The Aga Khan Foundation on Tuesday partnered with the German embassy, which will provide Rs 41.5 lakh for rebuilding of a traditional ‘baoli (water stepwell) in the Humayun Tomb’s complex here.

It was announced during the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Aga Khan Trust for Culture Chief Executive Ratish Nanda and the German envoy Martin Ney in the Mughal-era Arab Ki Sarai premises.

The Arab Ki Sarai, an Archeological Survey of India (ASI) protected monument, houses an out-of-use stepwell.

The embassy had previously co-funded the conservation of Chausath Khamba, a 16th-century tomb in the proximity to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

“Germany has a cultural conservation programme worldwide, not just in India. This is a traditional baoli next to the Arab ki Sarai gate. The renovation will be executed by the Aga Khan Foundation and we will give Rs 41.5 lakh for it.

“The soil will be heightened a little to make the Baoli functional. It’s not just theoretical conservation,” German embassy spokesperson Hans Christian Winkler told IANS.

“It’s an important structure. It’s a water conservation project in the heart of Delhi. A project like this can revive traditional water systems. The baoli is in shambles. Several parts like walls and roofs will need to be dismantled and rebuilt,” Nanda told IANS.

He said the Foundation was grateful that Germany accepted their “request to seek funding for this little structure”.

The baoli restoration is the latest project for the Foundation in Delhi, after the conservation of over 50 monuments in Humayun’s Tomb complex since 2007.

In India, the Foundation begun its conservation activities by restoring the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, which was completed in 2004. It then expanded its activities to encompass an urban renewal project that comprised the adjoining areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Sundar Nursery and Humayun’s Tomb complex.

Several other medieval monuments adjoining the Humayun’s Tomb have fallen into the conservation ambit. They are Nila Gumbad, Isa Khan’s garden-tomb, Bu Halima’s garden- tomb, Arab Serai gateways, Sundarawala Mahal and Burj, Batashewala group of Monuments, Chausath Khambha, and Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli.

A 90-acre city park in the Sunder Nursery Batashewala Complex has been restored as well.

“We work in 30 countries and look at the whole setting of the monument. We’ve been working in the Nizamuddin, Sundar Nursery, Humayun’s Tomb area for about 11 years now and there are 50 plus monuments that we’ve worked with — some even in an advanced state of failure,” Nanda explained.

As per Nanda, the conservation work will begin on Wednesday and take under a year to complete.