Manoj Khakhriyal and his friend Aamir Makhrani, both working in a private company, were thrilled to see photographs of illuminated monuments at an exhibition at the Qutub Minar on Wednesday.
"The monuments definitely looked better in the evening light than in the day. We would definitely love to visit them at night," said Makhrani.
However, their joy was short-lived when they found that entry to the ASI-protected monuments closes at sunset. "What's the point of illumination if there is no entry after sunset," the duo asked.
More than a year after scores of centrally protected monuments in the city were illuminated ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has not yet opened these monuments for night viewing. The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) had illuminated as many as 13 monuments in 2010. Apart from these, the ASI has also worked at the three World Heritage Sites.
The ASI officials, moreover, have been keeping lights off at some of these monuments due to various reasons, including increased power bills and breakage.
"The monuments where illumination had some or the other problems include Dadi Poti ka Gumbad near Deer Park in Hauz Khas, Safdarjung Tomb on Aurobindo Marg and some portions of Purana Qila," sources said.
KK Muhammed, ASI's Delhi circle chief, did not respond to calls by HT regarding damage and electricity bills.
Security concerns at night was another major cause why the monuments are still not open for the public after sunset. Explained Jawahar Sircar, secretary ministry of culture, "We have been continuously following up the issue with the police. They are saying no due to security concerns."
"The minister (for culture) is going to call a meeting soon on this issue," he said after inaugurating the exhibition.
The exhibition titled 'Heritage Beyond Sunset' has over 60 panels by photographer Sushil Khandelwal and will continue for about a month, ASI officials said.