Two hours on foot is all you need to get a lesson on nearly 1,000 years of Delhi’s magnificent history. The walk will leave you fascinated and somewhat disillusioned.
Fascinated at the more than 65 small and large heritage monuments, structures and ruins that stand on the 100-acre Mehrauli Archaeological Park, southeast of the World Heritage Site of Qutub Minar.
Disillusioned at the state of maintenance of some parts of the park. Apart from the irreversible ravages of time, the site has suffered considerable damage due to the multiplicity of agencies looking after the monuments at the one-of-its-kind site in the Capital.
While parts of the park are beautifully landscaped, some pockets are eye sores. The boundary wall is broken at several places. The Mehrauli villagers use the park as a thoroughfare to reach Anuvrat Marg. There is a drain on the southern side, and several open sewers/manholes dot the landscape.
But, things are slated to change.
Recently, the Delhi State Department of Archaeology issued a preliminary notification for more than a dozen monuments at the Park.
Further, at a meeting of the DDA’s Delhi Urban Heritage Foundation, it was decided that the park would be given to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for “better administration and upkeep”.
While the land is DDA’s, the ASI takes care of some of the important monuments such as the Tomb and Mosque of Jamali Kamali and Rajaon Ki Baoli in the park.
The meeting, headed by the LG, was attended by DDA’s vice-chairperson, chief architect and other members of the Foundation apart from ASI officials.
But in typical DDA style, things are moving slowly.
“The modalities are being worked out,” DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar said.
“The Lt Governor, unhappy with the way things were, decided that the Park be handed over to the ASI for better maintenance,” Prof A.G.K. Menon, convenor, Delhi chapter of conservation body Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said.
Since the area falls under the bugger zone of the World Heritage Monument, the ASI officials are happy. Now they are waiting for the actual transfer to happen.
But even before it is implemented apprehensions are being expressed about its implementation. “The main problem is its maintenance,” pointed out lawyer Usha Kumar, a pro-heritage monuments activist.
“Look what has happened to the conservation work by INTACH. If ASI can do it, well and good, but they need more money and man power,” she added.