Lodhi era dome ready to dazzle tourists during Games | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Lodhi era dome ready to dazzle tourists during Games

delhi Updated: May 27, 2010 23:48 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Months after it was freed of encroachment, a 15th century monument — Bara Lao Ka Gumbad — in Vasant Vihar has shed its skin, literally. With the conservation and restoration work almost complete, the Lodi era structure has never looked better.

Delhi government’s Department of Archaeology had declared the structure, inside a DDA park behind Priya Complex, a protected monument few months ago. The Indian National Trust For Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) started the conservation work.

Keshav Chandra, Director of Department of Archaeology, said, “This is the first of the 18 monuments being readied after conservation ahead of the Commonwealth Games. We have already conducted trial runs for the illumination and plan to open it for public soon.”

Apart from cleaning of the monument and carrying out conservation work, what INTACH has done is to go ahead with “restoration” work wherever possible.

“If there is a very strong evidence, there is a reference to a certain work for say 70 per cent, then only you can go ahead with restoration,” said an INTACH official.

This is evident from the finished kangoras (decorative portions on the parapet wall or that surrounding the dome of a monument), the stuccos on arch around the mihrab (decorated wall on the western side, where people will usually face while offering prayers) or the insides of the dome.

A family using the monument as its living quarters for years together had left its scars all over the place.

The walls were painted with pink distemper and there were additions like electrical, water pipes and other fittings. The walls above 10 feet and the insides of the dome were covered with soot, hiding the beautiful calligraphy and stuccos.

“All this was discovered when complete cleaning was carried out,” the official said.

Similarly, the ribs of the dome showed evidence of blue tiles.

“We are exploring possibility to get original blue tiles … like getting it from Aga Khan Foundation,” said INTACH’s Delhi Chapter convenor Prof A G K Menon.

History Lesson

The Lodhi area structure of Archaeological Value A, according to INTACH's listing, stands on a terrace about 15 feet high even as the dome rises from a 16-sided drum.
Maulvi Zafar Hasan’s book, considered as a bible of archaeology for Delhi monuments, describes: “The decorative guldastas mark the angles of the drum which is crowned by kangoras incised in plaster and was originally ornamented with blue tiles now mostly disappeared.”