Photo story on Nizamuddin Basti Published in The Diplomat Magazine

I am very proud to share that two of my photos got published in The Diplomat magazine as part of a photo documentary, Finding Delhi’s Lost Monuments, on the conservation work done / in progress in Humayun Tomb and Nizamuddin Basti area, by Ratish Nanda of Aga Khan Trust For Culture (a part of the Aga Khan Development Network).

The story is written and edited by journalist Vishal Arora, who also led the photo shoot, and showcases photos by a group of photo enthusiasts who recently came together as a collective called Delhi Photo Expeditions. The present story is the first by the newly formed collective.

For the photo shoot a few of us went on a Sunday morning to Nizamuddin and Humayun Tomb guided by a team member from AKTC who explained to us how the various sites and monuments of Nizamuddin Basti have been encroached upon, misused and generally neglected and the role AKTC is playing in maintaining them. Along with conserving the monument the AKTC also works towards making the local community a stake holder in the project by providing them vocational training as guides, women are formed into SHGs and given training to earn a livelihood.

Later in the week we also met Mr. Ratish Nanda, Project Director of AKTC and  a conservation architect for over 20 years. The learning I got from these interactions is heart warming as for the first time I realized the massive danger faced by our heritage sites, monuments and buildings and how little is being done by the authorities. Mr Nanda shared with us the various road blocks faced by the conservation work which, surprisingly, are not even bureaucratic in nature. Resistance come even from the inhabitants of these areas, the squatters and illegal trade mafias using various dilapidated historical sites as hideouts.

My focus in the photo shoot was to capture the largely unemployed and poor youth community and try to capture their vulnerability, yet hidden potential to do something better. In the final story two of my work have been selected. Presenting the published  photos and a few other from the shoot.


The youth scattered around the street. This is one of the two photos published on The Diplomat


While trying to locate the youth community I of course wished I could find both men and women, unfortunately this is a deeply patriarchal area, with women hardly having any access to public space, unless they are homeless, destitute.



Still these images made up for the complete absence of women in parks and playgrounds


Rag pickers, beggars, daily labourers all trying to make some sort of living


Everywhere you look there are some homeless or squatters


Many parts of Nizamuddin Basti have been encroached upon, this is right in front of Ataga Khan’s tomb. This is my second photo published on Diplomat

And now some monuments photo as testimony of the fascinating architecture and craftsmanship.


The Chausath Khamba built by son of Ataga Khan


Ataga Khan’s Tomb

wall-outside-chausath-khamba-nizamuddin-bastiA wall outside the Chausath Khamba, next to which is Mirza Ghalib’s tomb.


A young man stands in respect near Mirza Ghalib’s tomb


The Nizamuddin Baoli. The conservation work in this Baoli has been completed by AKTC


The Humayun Tomb, which I think is the real jewel in Mughal Architecture. The AKTC has completed this project and since then tourism has increased many folds.



There lies Humayun proudly presenting the Jaali work

Hope you like these photos. Please spread the word about the need to conserve and restore our heritage. For more information visit


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful. And I guess I learned something too. All the beautiful buildings don’t work until you put some people between them. They are the ones who add life. 🙂


    1. Sanjukta says:

      That is so true Harshit. In fact I have earlier never been a fan of monument photography because you can hardly tell a story through plain buildings. People have always been of most interest to me. But in this shoot I learned how you can add human elements, and other elements like patterns, light and shadow to make your photo interesting and tell a story.


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