Delhi: ASI working on rebuilding Humayun Tomb's finial after storm

New Delhi
New Delhi, June 8: After installing a temporary lightning conductor over the dome of Humayun's Tomb for its immediate safety, Archaeological Survey of India is now working on rebuilding its iconic finial which was knocked down by a severe storm that hit the national capital last month.

"Our immediate concern after the storm was the safety of the monument and therefore by June 3 we installed a new lightning conductor, after the old one attached to the finial was struck down, rendering the world heritage vulnerable," Superintending Archaeologist of ASI Delhi Circle Vasant Swarankar told PTI.

On May 30, the ornamental and "auspicious" finial installed atop the dome of the 16th century tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was damaged by the massive thunderstorm that hit the city and its neighbouring region, after being dislodged from its apex position.

The finial consisted of a wooden beam and other parts included nine copper utensils with a brass finish over it. Apart from the lightning conductor, an "auspicious inscription" was also attached to it, Swarankar said.

"The finial's wooden shaft made of Sal has been lost. And, therefore we are trying to source seasoned wood and for that we have kept a timeline of four weeks. Among the nine parts, two-three parts are damaged.

"Our Science Branch is working on rebuilding the finial and so while a few parts will be completely changed, some will be retained and a whole new composite structure will be made. It should take us two months or so, once we are able to procure the wood," he said.

Swarankar said, the absence of finial on top was like a "king without its crown". According to ASI records, the centuries-old finial dating to the Mughal-era was repaired by the British in 1912 and the structure has been documented by the heritage body, which will help us now in our reconstruction efforts, he said.

Talking on the finial's auspicious significance, the Delhi ASI chief said, "The Islamic inscription attached to the finial roughly translates to, 'Khuda jo hay jo barkat rakhe, kisi bhi aapda se bachahye (May God always keep it prosperous, protect it from any calamity). And, therefore its absence from the tomb is also an absence of the auspiciousness of it all".

It provided the monument physical safety and lent an overall crowning aesthetic beauty to it, he said. Swarankar said that once the ASI is done with the redesign work, the damaged parts would either be sent to the ASI museum here or the interpretation centre at the Humayun Tomb's site.


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