Arab ki Sarai gateway, Delhi - a rare Mogul era monument restored back to old glory

Arab ki Sarai,Mughal monument,Nizamuddin East, Delhi, Hindustan Times
Arab ki Sarai, New Delhi. Snapwire
Arab ki Sarai, a Mogul  monument that was in ruins a few years ago, was repaired and restored recently, thanks to the heritage lovers, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the central government and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC); the last one played a key role in the restoration work that began in  January 2017. Further, the restoration work got monetary help from US Ambassador’s Fund For Cultural Preservation. 

The majestic  gateway, measuring 13 meters tall  with five arches, chambers and  a domed  roof flanked by niches on both sides (Sanchit Khanna), was built in 1560 by Hamida Banu Begum, who was  the chief consort of Mogul emperor Humayan, The purpose was to accommodate 300 Arabs she had brought back from Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The lofty eastern gateway was part of a walled enclosure which was a bazaar during the reign of Emperor Jahangir along  the side of  Arab ki Sarai, Nizamuddin East. A Persian writer one Sangin Beg made a reference to this  inn as “property of Arabs and other general populace”, in his book titled Sair-ul-Manazil (1820).

Arab ki Sarai, a Mogul  monument in 2012./
 Above image: A rare monument (16th century) meant for Arab traders to stay during their travel in Delhi, this Sarai was in a dilapidated condition. You can see the collapsed roof. The huge gateway is within the Humanyun's tomb complex. .,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

The doorway, a blend of red sandstone and Delhi quartzite had become weak and faded because of age of the building. Temporary repair work was done with cement mortar that led to water stagnation and further damage and appearance of numerous cracks. This resulted in seepage  leading to dampness and salt deposits. The early repair work was so shabby, the Quranic inscriptions that had barely survived were very much affected by cement plastering. Additional damages included part of roof caving and missing tiles.
During restoration work the central ceiling medallion had to be left blank as there was considerable loss of artwork.
Arab ki Sarai,Mughal monument, Delhi. Twitter
 Centuries ago, according to History, the  Arabs  were great travelers for the purpose of trade,  preaching Islam  and gaining knowledge. During their travels, on regular routes at certain villages and towns,  they needed some  thing like a way-side inn for rest and relaxation. Such inns for the visiting Arabs existed in India and none had survived except the one in Delhi - Arab Ki Sarai within the premise of Humayun’s Tomb Complex. Now, restored back to old splendor and style,  Arab Ki Sarai now sports a refreshing  look without losing its heritage values.- a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is believed that  the craftsmen who worked on Arab ki Sarai, were also involved in the building of Humayun’s Garden-Tomb.
before 2012 Arab ki Sarai, Delhi in ruins. Creative Market
This impressive  13 meter-high, five-arched gateway, topped with battlements is two-bay deep. The central arch is flanked by projecting balconies that are supported by carved brackets.  The spandrels are ornamented with detailed tile work and medallions bearing Quranic inscriptions. This gateway, which leads to a bazaar / mandi attached to the Sarai, is one of the rare structures in Delhi with inscriptions.  In order to retain the heritage aspect of this rare monument,  restoration workers took particular care in removing the old flooring, concrete roofing and replacing it with traditional lime-concrete terracing having correct slopping and water-outlets a.