City anchor: ASI lifeline for decaying tomb of Akbar’s general

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SummaryLike many relics of the past, the tomb of Akbar’s famous general and poet Khanzada Mirza Khan Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khanan in the city’s upscale Nizamuddin East area has been wallowing in neglect after losing its sheen to centuries of vandalism.

Like many relics of the past, the tomb of Akbar’s famous general and poet Khanzada Mirza Khan Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khanan in the city’s upscale Nizamuddin East area has been wallowing in neglect after losing its sheen to centuries of vandalism.

Known simply as Rahim, the name that appears in the dohas (couplets) that he composed, the Mughal general built this monument for his wife (who died in 1598) on the lines of Humayun’s tomb. But, as fate would have it, this became his final resting place after his death in 1627.

White marble once covered the central dome and four octagonal chattris (canopies) at each corner. Most of the marble tiles were stripped and used at the tomb of Safdarjung in Lodi Garden.

Today, signs of vandalism can be seen in every nook and cranny of the Khan-e-Khanan’s (general) tomb. Its large dome lies exposed and poke-marked - with small marble strips camouflaged in the beige and red sandstone masonry.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) could soon throw a lifeline to revive the tomb’s lost glory. The ASI’s Delhi circle superintending archaeologist, D N Dimri, on Tuesday said: “There is a proposal to renovate parts of the monument. We are waiting for funds to start work.”

No new marble stone will be put in the missing portions during the conservation project. “The missing stones are part of its history. We will not interfere with history,” Dimri said.

“Work will be limited to stones which are bulging out, and those that have developed cracks or are broken. There are sections on the verge of collapse,” he said.

The cenotaph of Rahim is in the central chamber of the tomb. At present, a garden surrounds the monument. It is not known if it was ever surrounded by walled garden.

ASI officials said visitors often get confused by the uncanny similarity between Rahim’s tomb and that of Humayun’s.

Rahim was the son of Akbar’s caretaker Bairam Khan. After Bairam was killed, Akbar included his widow into his harem and, thus, Rahim became the emperor’s stepson. He was one of Akbar’s Navaratnas — nine gems or central ministers. Following Akbar’s death, Rahim served Jehangir for 20 years, but the new emperor killed his two sons because the general was not in favour of his accession to the throne.

“To cure a bitter cucumber, we cut its head off and rub in salt. Says Rahim, to cure a bitter

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