Obama to visit Humayun’s Tomb Sunday

Obama to visit Humayun’s Tomb Sunday

New Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb -- the 16th century magnificent Mughal marvel -- will be the first stop in Delhi on Sunday for US President Barack Obama, who will pay tribute to India’s rich cultural heritage through his visit to the monument.

Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle, is expected to drive to the beautiful red-stone monument in south Delhi, which now sports a new look after a major renovation exercise, soon after the Air Force One touches down here.

Humayun’s Tomb, an artistic precursor to the 17th century monument of love Taj Mahal, is a World Heritage Site and Obama will be the first American President to visit the resting place of the Mughal Emperor.

Obama is not visiting the Taj Mahal, which hosted his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton during his India visit in 2000.

The President, his wife and others will be received by senior officials from the Archaeological Survey of India at the entrance of the monument and are likely to be taken to the office of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, where they will be briefed about the significance of the structure, sources said.

After this, the entourage will be taken for a walk around the plush green gardens that surround a central structure, before being taken to the tomb.

Obama and Michelle are expected to arrive there at around 5:00 pm and will spend about 45 minutes at the monument, which has been turned into a virtual fortress with tight security arrangements in place.

The first garden tomb in the Indian subcontinent, the mausoleum was commissioned in 1562 by Humayun’s widow Hamida Banu and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect, a decade after the death of the Emperor.

The monument now sports a new look, thanks to the conservation work being carried out by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the ASI. The work which began in 1999 -- six years after Humayun’s Tomb was declared a World Heritage Site -- was being done in phases.

The ASI and AKTC have finished reviving the five-century old water channels of the garden surrounding the tomb.

The monument will be closed for public today and tomorrow. Delhi Police has already taken over the control of the monument and it has been sanitised ahead of the high-profile visit.

While announcing Obama’s visit, the White House said Obama “felt it was important, given the rich civilisation that India has, to pay tribute to that through" his stop at Humayun’s Tomb.