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This Gurugram woman cares for the city’s past and nurtures it

Over the past one year, Munjal has been making rounds of various government offices in Gurugram to give a fresh lease of life to the 114-year-old Badshahpur Baoli.

gurgaon Updated: Mar 10, 2019 03:38 IST
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Badshahpur Baoli,Parul Munjal,Gurugram heritage sites
Parul Munjal, an academician, has been at the forefront of campaigns focused around the protection of the Badshahpur Baoli. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

In January 2018, a group of students and teachers came together and visited the 114-year-old Badshahpur Baoli— which faced the prospect of being filled up with sand ahead of the construction of an impending road in its vicinity. Parul Munjal, an academician, was among those who had mobilised this group of students in a bid to save the baoli and prevent further damage to it. She reached out to other heritage enthusiasts in the city, and together they made sure that the process of filling up the baoli was called off.

“When I reached the site with my students, we saw the baoli was being filled up with sand. A well at the site had been completely covered. We feared that the baoli would perish, and decided to raise an alarm. We informed heritage bodies and concerned citizens, and finally left the place after being assured that the baoli wouldn’t be covered up,” said Munjal.

Over the past one year, Munjal has been making rounds of various government offices in the city to give a fresh lease of life to the baoli.

While her efforts continue, in the process, she has managed to sensitise citizens about the importance of preserving the structure.

Born and brought up in Delhi, Munjal moved to Gurugram in 2004. She, however, wasn’t new to the city. Even as a Delhi resident, she had been visiting the city as a student of a private university.

“Fragmented interaction with the city, while studying here, helped me discover the city’s heritage. Later, I shifted base to the city, and since then everyday has been a day of discovery of the city’s heritage and history,” said Munjal.

Over the past few years, she has not only become the go-to heritage person for her students and colleagues, but also for other heritage enthusiasts in the city. From spearheading awareness campaigns around heritage structures in the city to on ground conservation work, she has become an integral part of a community that seeks to start a conversation around heritage. In line with the same goal, she started motivating her students to move beyond Delhi and explore the heritage in Gurugram.

“The idea was to work with heritage in the city, and move beyond the heritage in Delhi. Delhi is something that everyone has been working on. It has been studied in length and the heritage has been mapped. Heritage in Gurugram is neither mapped nor is there any awareness about it. In order to change that, I started encouraging my students to look at heritage within the city, and got a student to look at the Badshahpur baoli project in 2012,” she explained.

Along with other experts and enthusiasts, Munjal has been striving to create awareness about heritage in the city. More recently, she also applied for a funding from the World Monuments Fund for conservation of the baoli.

She is also working in collaboration with INTACH for restoration work of a 19th-century French memorial.

“Parul is a human dynamo capable of doing multiple tasks simultaneously – and all of them are done well. Her knowledge of the heritage of Gurugram, a city she has adopted, is enviable. She is ever willing to take on responsibility and contribute towards heritage conservation, both in terms of time and quality. She is among the most sought after personality in the field of heritage conservation in the city,” said Atul Dev, convener of the Gurugram chapter of INTACH. Dev has been associated with Munjal during INTACH’s efforts to restore and preserve some heritage monuments in Gurugram.

Apart from the restoration work of the French memorial, Munjal has launched a 100-day campaign to map the Cawn Sarai in Sadar Bazar and create awareness about it.

“People in the city have started looking at heritage structures as mere property or land banks. This necessitates that a value for heritage in the city is generated,” said Munjal, who strives to develop this understanding or value of heritage among the people.

First Published: Mar 10, 2019 03:38 IST