Aga Khan IV, Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, is arriving in India on Feb 20, five years after his last visit. The 81-year-old spiritual leader will be in Mumbai on February 28, and is scheduled to meet government officials and a congregation of his followers. During his visit in 2013, he had attended several religious ceremonies.
In Mumbai, he will hold meetings with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao. Later, he is scheduled to attend a public function at a ground in Kalina, where more than 50,000 community members are expected to gather. Due to his visit, security in the area will be high, and community members have begun the process of obtaining special entry passes. This is also the diamond jubilee year of his leadership as the community’s 49th hereditary Imam. Aga Khan IV has been guiding the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims since 1957 in religious, spiritual and temporal matters. He generally interprets the Quran and emphasises on achieving a better quality of education and life.
His visit to India will begin in New Delhi on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will inaugurate Sundar Nursery, a sixteenth-century heritage garden adjacent to Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi. The 96-acre green patch was restored over nine years by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). Soon after the restoration of the Humayun’s Tomb, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) requested AKTC to take up the Sundar Nursery project.
Long neglected, the nursery has now been converted into a beautiful green patch, and the 20-odd monuments it houses have also been restored. Apart from the ASI and AKTC, the multi-crore project has been funded by corporate and philanthropic organisations. The restoration of Humayun’s Tomb, including its gardens, is the largest cultural project undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) till date.
A statement from the Aga Khan’s office said, “Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Humayun. It was commissioned by his wife in 1569. The AKTC worked with the Indian government to restore the tomb to its former glory. This initiative has since expanded to social and cultural programmes in the neighbouring Nizamuddin area, as well as to Sundar Nursery and a number of monuments in the historic district.”
He is expected to visit Hyderabad and Ahmedabad as well. A project to restore the Qutb Shahi tombs is being implemented by AKDN in Hyderabad. Published in The Hindu