South Delhi’s Moti Bagh has become synonymous with government accommodation and a prominent flyover. Situated on the fringes of Chanakyapuri, the colony has derived its name from a bagh (garden) and the area’s name, which was Arakpur Bagh Mochi.
Maulavi Zafar Hasan’s ‘Monuments of Delhi’ published in 1919 describes Moti Bagh as: “The Bagh is an extensive enclosure surrounded by a masonry wall with a bastion at each of the four corners and a big gateway towards east. In the centre of the enclosure there is a tank about 120 sq feet with a circular bastion, which has a pavilion of three compartments on its northern bank. It was originally a bagh (garden) built by one Ramdas entitled Mochi and it is after his title that the garden is known.”
At the turn of the century, the area came to be known as Mochi Bagh rather than the Arakpur Bagh Mochi. The name remained on paper. After the 1970s, the process of land acquisition for government accommodation began. “Once completed, the name Mochi Bagh sounded a tad too crass for a high-end government accommodation. So, the babudom quietly changed it to ‘Moti Bagh’,” says RV Smith, a prominent historian.
“Till late 1960s, it was all agricultural land and a few houses. The people who were well off left the area to buy kothis elsewhere,” said Ashok Tanwar, resident of Fatehpur Beri. Ironically, what remains of Arakpur Bagh Mochi is an unauthorised cluster awaiting regularisation.