Barah Khamba

Barah Khamba – Delhi

Barah Khamba is located at the far northern extent of Nizamuddin village, in a small enclosed park fronting the eastern end of Lodi Road. This will almost certainly be the my shortest blog post ever, as there is very little to say about the monument !

The tomb consists of a central chamber surrounded by a series of interlinking rooms, very much similar in style to the nearby Bara Batashewala and Humayun’s Tomb. Thought to date to the 15th century, it derives its name from the twelve double columns that surround the central chamber. Scholars mostly attribute the tomb to the Lodi period, although it may be slightly earlier in date. We do not know who this tomb was built for.

Barah Khamba was one of 46 monuments restored prior to the Commonwealth Games being held in the capital in 2010. Prior to this, the monument was severely neglected and occupied by squatters, with paan spit and graffiti covering the monument. As we have seen with so many other heritage buildings in Delhi, layers of cement applied to the monument during past repairs had caused extensive damage to the structure. These were carefully removed and replaced with lime mortar. Structural cracks in the dome and other parts of the building were also repaired and a 5cm thick red sandstone floor laid down. A final layer of lime mortar, which was used by the 15th century builders to mimic the appearance of more expensive marble, was restored to the monument. This was prepared with marble dust and egg white, serving as a protective layer that will quickly get the patina of organic growth during the monsoon.

This repair and conservation work was undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, and co funded by the DDA’s Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation.

The small park surrounding Barah Khamba was not a great experience for me. Of all the places I have been in India in the last 15 years, it was here that I felt the most vulnerable. The park seemed to be full of undesirables, who were clearly interested in my presence, and so I decided it was not somewhere I should linger for long.

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Categories: Barah Khamba, Delhi, India

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