14th-century monument is protected, but surrounding wall is no one’s baby
The 14th-century Satpula monument on the Press Enclave Road near Khirkee village is a poor remnant of the bygone era’s engineering wonder. A wall that ran from the Jahapanah Forest to the Qila Raipithora had several weirs – a spill way with regulators. Nivedita Khandekar reports.delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2013 01:15 IST
The 14th-century Satpula monument on the Press Enclave Road near Khirkee village is a poor remnant of the bygone era’s engineering wonder.
A wall that ran from the Jahapanah Forest to the Qila Raipithora had several weirs — a spill way with regulators.
On its southern side, it harvested the run off rainwater from the hillocks of Khanpur, Devali, Madangir, Chhatarpur and Mehrauli in a reservoir more than 10-feet deep. Towards north, the water channels that travelled through Chirag Dilli merged into Yamuna.
“The water was clean, devotees from Pakistan came here to bathe before visiting the Chirag Dilli dargah or proceeding for Haj,” said Khem Chand Rana, 73, a Khirkee resident.
However, in the recent times, the wall is disappearing under debris.
Of the several weirs, only one remains and is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
There are seven arches of the sluice gates, lending its name to the monument. The wall on the western side, towards Khirkee, is buried under debris. Large area has been covered with interlocking tiles, a portion is earmarked for parking and a new enclosure wall with locked gates prevents entry to the monument. Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said it is working for “integrating the heritage structure with greens by landscaping the area”.
Nemo Dhar, DDA’s spokesperson, said: “We have not dumped any debris. ASI is the custodian of the Satpula monument and it is also the custodian of the wall.”
But the most shocking is ASI’s admission that this wall is not ‘notified as protected’. Basant Kumar Swarnakar, ASI’s Delhi circle chief, defended: “Beyond the protected monument, the wall stands on DDA land. We had issued notices for this work. DDA has its own heritage cell and a certain responsibility towards city’s heritage.”
AGK Menon, heritage expert, said: “We should not just stick to the letter of the law but to the spirit of the law. As a society, we need to demonstrate that we would like to project our heritage and not just the few elements that are declared as protected.”