Delhiwale: A Barah Khamba puzzle
Named after an extinct tomb, the road now banks on 12 modern-day pillars to live up to its promisedelhi Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:03 IST
1, 2, 3, 4… there are exactly 12 pillars, or barah khambas, here. These white columns, plastered with political flyers, appear to effectively dispel the mystery behind Barakhamba Road. The boulevard of 12 columns begins from Central Delhi’s Connaught Place and ends a mile away at the Mandi House circle.
The avenue doesn’t go all the way to the similarly named Barakhamba Tomb, the monument with… well, 12 columns again. Indeed, there is another ruin called Barakhamba inside the Delhi Golf Club. It, too, has 12 pillars.
The 12 pillars of Barakhamba Road, however, look too modern in comparison with the other two. In fact, they are like the miniature versions of the colonial-era white columns of the Outer and Inner Circle of Connaught Place.
Who built these pillars?
The encyclopedic Delhi: The Built Heritage, which has catalogued almost every Delhi monument, has no entry on these pillars. Its author, Ratish Nanda, who heads the India operations of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), said that Barakhamba was a common name given to many old tombs in Delhi that have three-arched openings on each façade. Such a tomb is typically supported by 12 columns — four in the corner, and two on each side.
And what about the 12 columns of Barakhamba Road? Mr Nanda rules out any historical association to these pillars. He thinks of them as a folly of our modern-day builders.
In any case, the pillars are difficult to spot as they are hidden behind a row of trees. During the day, the area is used as a car park. The Barakhamba Road may have been named after an extinct Barakhamba tomb, today it makes more sense to link the avenue to these 12 pillars.