Started in 2007: Nizamuddin Basti conservation project gets two UNESCO Awards

🔴 Nine projects from six countries — Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand — have been honoured by a jury of heritage experts.

Written by Divyaa

The UNESCO has conferred two awards for conservation efforts at Nizamuddin Basti in the capital. The Nizamuddin Area comprises the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb, the centuries-old settlement of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and Sunder Nursery, in addition to the 16th Century Batashewala Tomb-Garden Complex, tomb of 16th Century courtier poet Khan I Khanan ‘Rahim’, and the Mughal-period caravanserai of Azimganj Serai. The Urban Renewal project, which started in 2007, has successfully unified these segregated zones of the conservation area into an urban historic district of considerable cultural significance.

The conservation is being undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in partnership with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Archaeological Survey of India, Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation, and the Dargah Committee/resident community groups of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.

Nine projects from six countries — Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand — have been honoured by a jury of heritage experts. Jurors met online in November to review a total of 39 entries from 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific. The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative is the only award-winning entry from India.

The jury applauded the project for its “outstanding achievement in placing heritage at the heart of the sustainable development agenda” and noted that “through an innovative People-Public-Private Partnership model, the project overcame major socio-economic challenges and improved health, education and well-being, particularly for women and youth”.

The jury further commented, “It is notable that the development initiatives preceded the conservation efforts, which encompassed the meticulous restoration of over 20 historic monuments clustered around the 14th Century mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. From conserving monuments to reviving local crafts, to improving the urban environment and creating new jobs, the project has brought about the revitalisation of the living historic urban landscape in its truest sense.”

The jury reviewed the conservation of 14th Century Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli, the Jamaat Khana Mosque, and the 17th Century Chausath Khambha.

AKTC has received support from the Embassy of Germany for the conservation of Chausath Khambha, the Dargah Committee for the Conservation of the Jamaat Khana mosque. Since 2007, Ford Foundation, Tata Trusts, Deloitte Foundation, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rizwan Adatia Foundation and the United States Embassy have collaborated on various culture and socio-economic development programmes in the area.

In 2020, the Sunder Nursery Conservation also received the twin UNESCO Awards — the Award of Excellence, 2020 & Special Recognition for Sustainable Development.

Since 2000, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme has been recognising the efforts of private individuals and organisations in restoring, conserving, and transforming structures and buildings of distinct heritage value in the region.

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