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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Royal citadels lying in ruins of apathy

Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 12, 2013
First Published: 22:15 IST(12/2/2013) | Last Updated: 22:17 IST(12/2/2013)

If you stand across Vasant Kunj C-8 block to reach the 13th-century-built Sultan Ghari tomb, you will struggle to locate the entry.

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You will have to cross a proposed road, which is full of garbage and debris. A kutcha road leads to the monument but no boards have been put up either by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the custodian of the monument, or the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the agency owning land around the monument.

"Only the monument up to plinth area is notified as protected and the rest of the land belongs to DDA, which has designated the area as an archaeological park. We will take up the matter with the DDA again," said Daljeet Singh, ASI's Delhi circle chief.

The DDA claimed that the project for conservation of ruins around Sultan Ghari had started in 2002 but it was discontinued due to litigation.

"Further, as per revised the Archaeological Act, permission is required from the National Monument Authority to carry out works around monuments. DDA is currently forming a project appraisal committee to review the works to be undertaken afresh in a time-bound manner," said DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar.

KT Ravindran, former Delhi Urban Arts Commission chairperson, said, "There is no connectivity for sewage, so you cannot have a toilet there. It has to be a close-circuit system of septic tank. A well worked out design and autonomous system is needed as stone monuments are very sensitive to water." 

Several kilometres away, the Rahim Khan-e-Khanan tomb is definitely in a better shape with neat manicured lawns. But it hardly finds any visitors. Its back faces the Mathura Road, opposite Nizamuddin (west) colony.

"On the main road is a board telling just the name, but none showing direction. The actual entry is from inside the Nizamuddin east colony. How does ASI expect tourists to reach this place?" said Ananya Dasgupta, a resident of Bhogal.

An exception in terms of a clear board indicating direction on the main road, availability of parking and good approach road is Firoz Shah Kotla. A good board with directions could be seen at the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.

After the ample parking, the entry looks a little cluttered with trucks parked haphazardly and a broken road right in front of it.

Insides, the lawns are well maintained amid the grandeur of the ruins of the fifth city. There are enough signages but no guide to explain beyond the boards. The monument is visited by devotees on Thursday and Friday which, claimed an officer, adds to the garbage and litter.

"There is no point in blaming just the ASI. The civic agencies and the tourism department too need to be involved," observed AGK Menon of Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage.


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