“These projects reflect how history, heritage and greenery are all part of the same piece,” said Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami at the launch of a new exhibition in London this week.
‘Delhi and Hyderabad: A Green Renaissance’ is open to the public this week at the Ismaili Centre in London alongside a series of free talks as part of an initiative to spread the word about the regeneration of the two Indian cities under the stewardship of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) among the British Indian diaspora and beyond. Delhi in northern India and Hyderabad in the south are united in the dedicated restorative work undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture over the past few years to create models in support of their concept of how conservation and revitalisation of cultural heritage can act as a springboard for social development.
Ratish Nanda, Chief Executive of the Trust, explains: “What we are trying to do is demonstrate how conservation can lead to significant economic development – leveraging cultural assets as a springboard for development.
“Our conservation is unlike anything else done so far in India is based on craftsmanship. Our craftsmen can still use the same material, the same tools that were used 4/5/600 years ago to create the same magic.”
The Trust, which works on such sustainable and green projects around the world, is behind the transformation of Delhi’s historic Nizamuddin neighbourhood – which houses the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb. In Hyderabad, it has similarly been planting thousands of trees and reviving the local landscape around the Qutub Shahi Heritage Park project. A brand-new museum is also nearing completion in Delhi, aimed at capitalising upon the 2 million visitors being attracted to the heritage site annually.
Naushad Jivraj, President of the Ismaili National Council, noted: “The exhibition and the talks demonstrate what can draw and hold people together.
“It is also at the core of what lay at High Highness the Aga Khan’s vision for the Ismaili Centre in London as a ‘bridge between the culture of the community’s roots and that of its future as well as a symbol of the hopes of people who have lived through change and turbulence’.”