Delhiwale: Blue diamond, conserved
- Back in the colonial times, the Brits turned the tomb into a police station. The garden around was razed down to make way for a busy avenue. Subsequently, it withered into a ruin, reduced to a traffic roundabout.
It is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s not even cerulean. It actually is somewhere between turquoise and lapis. These tiles on the dome of the centuries-old Sabz Burj are looking as fresh as the morning dew.
So are the multicoloured patterns on the neck of the dome.
Sabz Burj’s conservation is finishing this month. The project began four years ago by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership with Havells India.
In the custodianship of the Archaeological Survey of India, the 16th century tomb remains one of Delhi’s most mysterious souvenirs. Who built it for whom? We don’t know yet. The grave is missing. Older than Humayun’s Tomb nearby, it stands at the intersection of Mathura Road and Lodhi Road. Many Delhiwallas mistakenly call it Neela Gumbad —the blue dome. (To deserve its name, Sabz Burj should have looked sabz, or green.)
Back in the colonial times, the Brits turned the tomb into a police station. The garden around was razed down to make way for a busy avenue. Subsequently, it withered into a ruin, reduced to a traffic roundabout.
The retouch will alter that perception. The tomb still is subtly melancholic, just no longer run-down. This afternoon the top half is glistening with restored colours. The facade is draped in a protective green net, swaying like a sultan’s kaftan in the afternoon breeze.
“Master craftsmen restored the facade’s missing ornamentation, conservators unearthed the painted ceiling underneath a later cement layer, stone carvers put back the sandstone lattice screens, handmade glazed tiles were put up where those were missing,” says Ujwala Menon of Aga Khan Trust.
The new tiles on the dome haven’t come at the cost of the original. Those ones had fallen off long time ago, or had lost their glaze, and were replaced by a set of inappropriate blue tiles in the 1980s. In fact, the leftover historic tiles in multicoloured patterns just below the dome weren’t touched, even where they had lost the glaze; only the missing portions were replaced.
Inside, the ceiling with its regained floral drawings—in “pure gold” and lapis—evokes a scene of artists hanging from the scaffolding with brushes in their hands. A bygone era suddenly seems a touch away. Every year the semal trees inside the tomb enclosure briefly bloom with pulpy flowers, lending a shade of red to the monument. That missing colour will be restored in spring.
LUCKNOW Ahead of Independence Day, the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday claimed to have foiled a terror plot to target Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers, after the arrest of an alleged ISIS operative, Sabauddin Azmi, from UP's Azamgarh district. Sharing a press note, ATS officials claimed that Sabauddin Azmi was in touch with ISIS recruiters Abu Umar and Abu Bakar Al-Shami through phone and instant messaging applications.
Investigations into a house break in New Panvel led the Khandeshwar police to a gang of three in Delhi who used to come to Mumbai, stay in hotels, board a train and get down at any station and target closed flats near the stations and return to Delhi. The accused have been identified as Alimuddin Abdul Hameed (47), Sajid Khubanseeb (27) and Mohammad Ramzan Mohammad Haneef (44).
With the first week of August receiving good rainfall in catchment areas, the water level in Barvi Dam, which supplies water to Mumbai Metropolitan Region, has increased to 91% from 78%, which was the level in July last week. The officials of the dam claimed that if the rainfall continues in the coming days, the dam will get its full storage.
Lucknow Amid apprehensions of communal and sectarian clashes, the state police on Tuesday managed to ensure by and large peaceful Moharram processions in different districts, including Lucknow. The Moharram processions were taken out peacefully from August 1 and 9 but there were major apprehensions of law-and-order problem in the backdrop of back-to-back incidents of violence after Friday prayers in June earlier this year in Kanpur, Prayagraj and eight other districts.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday lashed out at Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar for breaking ties with the National Democratic Alliance and joining hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal to form a new government in Bihar. Stating that JDU won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prasad said the tally of JD(U) MPs also increased to 16.