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World Heritage Day: Lesser known Delhi monuments that deserve attention, restoration

On World Heritage Day, April 18, here are a few nuggets about some lesser-known Delhi monuments, which need to be preserved.

delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2018 14:22 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
World Heritage Day,UNESCO,Delhi
Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli is one of the monuments that historians feel needs immediate restoration. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Delhi is one of the few cities around the world which has history seeped into its very roots. You are bound to spot at least one architectural marvel no matter where you look. However, many are in pitiable state.

For instance, there is “Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli” that “needs to be restored immediately. It’s the last palace built by the Mughals, and has an ornamental darwaza (entry) through which even elephants could enter. It was the summer palace for them. Today, the local boys play cricket and gamble there, and the monument in a terrible state”, says author and historian Rana Safvi.

And as citizens and tourists we cannot rid ourselves of the responsibility that we have towards our heritage, by saying that the government is not doing its bit. “Vijay Mandal [complex] was an inspection bastion. It’s a uniquely-shaped monument located in Sarvapriya Vihar, and it’s entrance is right outside the Sarvapriya Club. Yet, it’s surrounded by wilderness with only a single watchman stationed there. Once I asked him about the broken beer bottles lying around there, and the guard said ‘Mai akela hun, jo itne log aate hain vo toh mujhe mar dalenge’.”

On the International Day For Monuments and Sites (World Heritage Day), which is celebrated every year on April 18 by UNESCO, let’s get to know some of our heritage monuments better, and pledge to take care of them.

A picture of Haksar ki Haveli published in the book, Delhi — The Emperor's City, Rediscovering Chandni Chowk and its Environs by author Vijay Goel. (Anushree Fadnavis/HT Photo)

Haksar ki Haveli

Haksar ki Haveli has become a commercial complex of sorts, thanks to encroachment. In 2016, this Haveli (in Old Delhi’s Sitaram Bazar’s by-lane of Kucha Pati Ram), was notified as a heritage property by the Government of Delhi. It was here that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru married Kamala Nehru, on 8 February, 1916. Kamala lived in the haveli with her family. Later, it became a popular venue for mushairas and musical events.

Tomb of Mir Taqi

A beeline of cars is often seen outside the posh Delhi Golf Club in Golf Links.

But that’s usually of those visiting the place to catch up with acquaintances and friends over a game. The many monuments inside the complex generally remain unfrequented.

One of the monuments inside Delhi Golf Club is the Tomb of Mir Taqi.

Built around 1930s, this tomb is in the area which was the burial ground for the Mughal dynasty. Today, there is an element of mysteriousness around this tomb, as the grave in the central chamber is said to be missing.

A view of the Hastsal Minar at Hastsal Village in Uttam Nagar. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Hastsal Minar

Another monument that needs immediate attention is the Hastsal Minar in Uttam Nagar. Established in 1650s, this three-storey minaret, built using red sandstone and bricks, is about 17-metres high. It’s believed to have been built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and served as a hunting tower.

The name of the monument derives from ‘Hast Sthal’ that literally translates to the resting place of elephants. It used to be submerged in water then. Today, there is no water body around the minaret, and hunting is obviously banned. The place is difficult to reach by broken roads.

Burjs of Mansur

Built around 1750s, this heritage monument is located in Ashok Vihar near Delhi University’s Satyawati College. The burj or tower is named after the ruler of the Indian state of Oudh (or Awadh) Abul Mansur, also known as Safdar-Jang. It reportedly served as a resting or recreational place for Safdar-Jang’s family.

Kharbuze ka Gumbad in Panchsheel. The state archeology department has engaged INTACH for its restoration. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Kharbooze Ka Gumbad

This heritage marvel is in South Delhi’s Sheikh Sarai. and the name will definitely bring a smile on a Hindi-speaking individual’s lips. If you are also wondering, why Kharbooze?

A look at the top of the tomb is the answer to the question - The dome is the shape of a muskmelon or kharbooza.

Constructed in 1397, this structure is located inside the premises of Panchsheel Public School in Sadhana Enclave. It’s believed that Sufi Saint Kabir-ud-din Aulia would spend the day under the dome, and night, inside a cave below it.

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First Published: Apr 19, 2018 14:21 IST