There would be scrubbing, cleaning and also a little shampoo, not to mention the new dressing. No, we are not talking about a person getting a makeover but Delhi’s one of the most popular hangouts — the India Gate — being spruced up ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The 42.35 metre high arch, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built as a war memorial, is set to get a thorough cleaning soon. The structure, built in the 1920s not just weathers heat, dust and rains, it is also showing signs of deterioration like seepage below the side openings on north and south sides and black marks at certain places due to moss and lichen.
“The cleaning this time is being done after a decade, thanks to Commonwealth Games. We would also be
carrying out the necessary repairs,” said a senior Central Public Works Department (CPWD) official.
Earlier the CPWD used tamarind and scrub/wash technology for cleaning the structure. This time round, they will be using chemical cleaning.
“We are using the chemical cleaning method as per the advise of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Once this is done, there would be normal washing with water,” the official said on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Incidentally, the ASI and Delhi state archaeological department too are extensively using chemical cleaning method to spruce up a number of heritage monuments ahead of the Games.
The conservationists seem happy about it.
“It is one of the important colonial architectural heritage and among them, one of the youngest,” said S K Mishra, former chairperson of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
But observes conservation architect Ratish Nanda, “Conservation of India Gate should be coupled with a landscape restoration for the
90 acre roundabout and conservation of the canopy, fountains and the urban setting of the central axis.”
Yes, the CPWD plan to do that too.
The canopy would be cleaned too and apart from the water channels, the two fountains on north and south side would be cleaned and repaired.
The lawns would be taken care of for improving the overall ambience of the area.
The scaffoldings are being put up and the actual cleaning work would start soon. The total work to give a neat and clean image would be carried out at a cost of Rs 66 lakh, the CPWD official said.