At one end of the spectrum, the Taj Mahal became the most sought after tourist destination in the country while on the other hand, Abdur Rahim's tomb remained unknown and of interest only to students and history enthusiasts.
When Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, he had a five decades old precedent as Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan who was the commander-in-chief of Emperor Akbar’s army had done the same for his wife Mah Banu. Mah Banu’s tomb was considered the first Mughal tomb to have been built for a woman.
After his death in 1627 Abdur Rahim was buried right next to his wife’s tomb situated in Delhi just like Emperor Shah Jahan was buried next to the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal in Agra. At one end of the spectrum, the Taj Mahal became the most sought after tourist destination in the country while on the other hand, Abdur Rahim’s tomb remained unknown and of interest only to students and history enthusiasts. Rahim’s tomb came into limelight six years back when the InterGlobe Foundation in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) decided to support the conservation of Rahim’s mausoleum, the Indian Express reported. The monument after remaining close for about six years has been re-opened for tourists early this week after the six-year long restoration work which arguably is the largest restoration work undertaken for any monument in the country.
Ratish Nanda, CEO of AKTC told the Indian Express that when the work was started at the monument, the structure was at the risk of sudden collapse. The historical monument faced neglect throughout the 18th and 19th century as stones stolen from the monument were used to build other monuments in the city hollowing the foundation of the structure. According to the Indian Express report, it was in the year 1920 that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) provided masonry support to the monument to save the structure from collapse.
After detailed discussion with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the restoration work started six years back which included repairs to the interior as well as the exterior parts of the mausoleum along with its canopies, dome and facade. Nanda also said that he was aware that the conservation work at the site would give a fillip to historical research, publications, and festivals on Rahim’s legacy and that is why a separate team was established to undertake various research on Rahim. The massive restoration work which went for six years had employed over 3000 craftsmen including stone carvers, masons among others.
Nanda also told the Indian Express that the work of restoration needed substantial supervision as the work of intricate ornamentation was very critical to undertake at the monument. The restoration work which went on for six long years also revealed further insights into the personality of Rahim. According to the Indian Express report, no two patterns of the structure were alike and just like his dohas, Hindu motifs were also carved on the Mausoleum which demonstrate Rahim’s deep understanding of Hinduism as along with being a brave warrior he was also a renowned poet of his times.
Shedding light on another immense talent of Rahim, Nanda told the Indian Express that Rahim’s talent of hydraulic engineering was evident from the discovery of a fountain which lifted water by as much as 20 feet and showered it on the sandstone terrace of the mausoleum.