As the Capital gears up to welcome global experts who'll evaluate Delhi's nomination as a World Heritage City, we take you beyond the tourist map to ­showcase some of history’s unsung gems here.
Delhi’s nomination to UNESCO for the coveted title of World Heritage City has been accepted and the date of examination by a panel of experts from the UN-appointed International Council of Monuments and Sites is coming closer. With so many lesser-known yet majestic
in the city, we think we well deserve the title.
1,000 Delhi monuments ‘unprotected’
The three current world heritage sites in the Capital are Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort and the Qutab Minar. Here are the unsung but unmatchable others.
Muhammad Shah Sayyid’s Tomb
The Sayyid Dynasty has a brief mention in history, as they ruled over small ­territories. Thus, they did not have the time to build vast and expansive ­structures in their name. The tomb is a structure of archaeological importance. It is an octagonal ­structure with corbelled doorways, engravings on plaster and a colourful ­ceiling. The roof has ­pavilions too. The tomb has many graves, the ­central one, it is believed, belongs to Muhammad Shah and is surrounded by his family members. The tomb is mostly visited by ­architecture enthusiasts.Turkman Gate
Dara Singh Shikoh Library
Location: GGSIPU Campus, Kashmere Gate
Built in: 1637
The building was originally the library of Shahjahan’s eldest son, Dara Shikoh. At one point in history, it housed Ali Mardan Khan, the Mughal Viceroy of Punjab. Later, the place went on to home Sir David Octherlony in 1803. The building later served as a government college and a district school from 1804 to 1904. Since then, the building has undergone many changes and is now the office of the Department of Archaeology, which also has a small museum at its entrance. Raidar Ali, the ­librarian, says, "The books present here can now only be accessed by the Archaeology Department staff. Some students are interested in the place, and I feel happy to tell them about the building’s history."
Makhdum Sabzwari’s Mosque
Location: Mayfair Gardens, Hauz Khas Enclave
Built in: 15th century
The mosque was built by Timur, when he invaded India in the 14th century. The architecture of the mosque is a confluence of Indian and Islamic style of architecture. A beautiful facade welcomes the visitors. The dome and the chhallar adds ­dimension to the simple structure, which houses a mosque and a ­graveyard. The structure needs ­restoration and is in a somewhat ­dilapidated state. The caretaker of the monument, Ved Pal, says, "Peer baba, Makhdum, came here in 1668. He was a Sufi saint who used to meditate, pray and sing songs praising the Lord. People do not know much about this place."
Location: Northern Ridge, near Hindu Rao Hospital
Built in: 1863
The memorial was erected in the ­memory of the soldiers of Delhi Field Force, who lost their lives between May 30 - September 20, 1857. On the completion of the 25 years of India’s Independence, a plaque was installed here to commemorate the soldiers’ ­heroism. The intrinsic feature of the memorial is its Gothic design paved in red sandstone, mounted with a marble cross at its top. The monument has recently undergone the process of restoration. Chhote Lal, who works as a guard here, says, "Some days, ­college students turn up, but I think this generation is not interested in knowing about our ­freedom struggle."
What the Archaeological Survey of India says
We had a chat with Dr DN Dimri, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI
Why are these monuments lying in the shadow? Why haven’t they gotten their due?
The prime objective of the Archaeological Survey of India is to protect the ­monuments under the ­provisions of the Antiquity and Art Treasure Act, 1972. Some monuments are not as popular as the ­others because they are not well connected with public ­transport. Other reasons are that many of them do not have a rich history or ­exquisite architecture to attract many visitors. Also, when tourists come to India, they have limited time to explore a city.
How does ASI plan to ­promote these lesser-known monuments?
One needs to understand that ASI’s work is limited to the walls of various monuments and heritage is a concurrent subject. We can only protect and conserve a monument. The government, both at the local and the state level, has to do the rest.