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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Martyrs’ memorial over a ‘lost’ dome

Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 29, 2013
First Published: 19:52 IST(29/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:04 IST(30/6/2013)
A perfect example of colonial architecture and one of the youngest heritage structures, this tomb is wrapped in history. Situated in the middle of a 90-acre green area, the road circling around it possibly sees the highest concentration of Delhi's traffic.

However, none of the commuters at the C-hexagon or the thousands thronging the India Gate know or can ever imagine that the place, crowded today, was a nondescript tomb - Hijre Ka Gumbad - till a century ago.

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The Britishers, for building the capital city of New Delhi then, had acquired land from nearby villages after 1911. While they left the places of worships untouched, household dwellings and other structures were razed to make space for the Capital.

In 'Monuments of Delhi', published in 1919, surveyor Zafar Hasan recorded the presence of Hijre Ka Gumbad (Dome of Hermaphrodite) in its ruinous stage. "The dome and the arches are brick built. A portion of the dome has fallen, but the building still presents a picturesque appearance. There is no trace of any grave now," he said and recommended repairs.

But how many know about the place actually?

"I accidentally discovered it while researching for old maps. For me it was unheard of. Had it been a tomb of some prominent person, it would have possibly survived. And India Gate probably would have been at some other location," Shubham Mishra, an urban planner, said.

India Gate is a 42.35 metre high arched 'War Memorial' designed by Edwin Lutyens on the lines of Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Its foundation stone was laid on February 10, 1921 and the work completed in 1931.


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