This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Tughlaq-era Baradari, Imambara, Lodhi-era tomb
The Times of India, Sep 08 2015
Lost amid the din and bustle of this part of the capital are two monuments that speak volumes about the strong architectural legacy left behind by two of Delhi's illustrious sultanates. After decades of neglect and misuse, the Tughlaq-era Baradari and the Lodhi-era tomb have been restored to their original glory, thanks to an intensive conservation programme launched by Intach in collaboration with the Delhi archaeology department. Imambara had been used as a godown for years, the tomb was overrun by commercial establishments, a garage and tea stalls. Officials said several rooms had been built inside the Baradari, where people used to live and store their goods. The project, which lasted up to 10 months, involved removing the alterations like partition walls and other temporary structures erected inside the Imambara.
“Once work started, we found that locals had actually built an additional floor inside the structure, which was used as sleeping quarters. That had to be removed carefully so as not to damage the structure itself. There were two big trees adja cent to the Imambara, which also had to be removed for which per mission was taken from the forest department. “Once the cement and plaster was removed, we found hid den patterns in the structure, niches, arches and mouldings. The idea was to bring back the original integrity of the monument and restore all the original designs which has been hidden beneath plaster,“ added the official. Railings have been erected around the monument as a measure of protection from any vandal ism and future encroach ment threats. Both monuments are graded A and B in terms of ar chaeological value in the Delhi herit age listing.
The Imam bara has five domes on the roof and the big gest challenge was to remove tree branches and foliage, which had come up there over the years. As some of the overgrowth originates from inside cracks in the monument's facade, this was done carefully, without causing further damage, another official said.
Hasan Rasool area
Hakim Ajmal Khan’s tomb
Inside the Hasan Rasool slum compound on Panchkuian Road lie several closely packed houses. In their midst is a mausoleum of the Sufi saint after whom the settlement, which probably came up after Partition, is named. But also buried nearby is Hakim Ajmal Khan, the co-founder of Jamia Millia Islamia and a pioneer of Unani medicine.
“He was a philanthropist, a famous hakim, and a freedom fighter who was a contemporary of Gandhiji and took part in the Khilafat Movement. But today his name is hardly heard except for a road and a park in central Delhi named after him,” said Masroor Ahmed, Khan’s great grandnephew who lives in their heritage haveli in the Walled City’s Ballimaran area.
Ahmed is among the few of the family who stayed back in India; the rest migrated to Pakistan and established a Unani medicine business there. “His relatives from Pakistan continue to come here regularly and pray at his grave,” said Mohammad Imran, who lives in a house adjacent to the grave.
The grave is in a terrible shape and has nothing but a headstone bearing the name of Khan. “It were the Pakistani relatives who came here and put up iron grilles to make the grave distinct as this whole place is filled with many graves,” Imran said.
Ahmed however said the people who live around the graves are encroachers. “It’s my family graveyard and several of my ancestors lie there,” he said.
He also blamed the government for not doing enough. “For all these years, the grave was in a shambles. No one from the government or the Waqf Board ever bothered to save it. The stature that my great granduncle had, he deserved a beautiful mausoleum, much like the Zakir Hussain monument at Jamia,” Ahmed said.
Historian Rana Safvi, however, blamed it on the family for the state of the grave: “The family could have done more for the grave. They should go there regularly and perform prayers.”
Meanwhile, Jamia celebrated its 150th anniversary on Monday. “When I came here, there was nothing on his name to pay respects. It was then that we decided to initiate programmes on his name and have inaugurated an exhibition at the university’s Premchand archives,” vice-chancellor Talat Ahmed said, adding that the university would now have PhD and diploma courses on Unani medicine.
2021: ownership issues
Accusations and counter-accusations are being exchanged over the Lal Gumbad, a Tughlaq-era structure in the neighbourhood of south Delhi’s Panchsheel Park. The residents of the abutting Sadhna Enclave allege that a family is encroaching on the complex, while the claimed co-owner of the land insists the plot has been a property of the family for many decades and they had only now cleared it of garbage.
Also known as Rakabwala Gumbad, or the tomb of iron rings, the red sandstone structure was built in 1397 as the tomb of the 14th century Sufi saint, Sheikh Kabir-ud-din Auliya, a disciple of Shaikh Raushan Chirag-i-Delhi. The domed structure, despite being a protected monument, is, the local residents claim, “a hub of anti-social activities”. However, the residents of Sadhna Enclave are now more concerned about the structure itself. While a Delhi court decreed in November last year that the plot of land measuring 1 bigha 13 biswas had been in the possession of the Jain family since 1978, the residents claim steel fencing has been put up around the land and construction activities are under way in violation of the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1951, which prohibits anyone, including the owner or occupier of a protected area, from constructing anything within the protected area or carrying on mining, quarrying, excavating, blasting or any operation there without the permission of the central government.
The hubbub began in June when garbage was removed from the complex and bricks were laid, leading the Sadhna Enclave RWA to believe this was the first step in erecting a permanent structure on the Lal Gumbad complex. Sudhir Gupta, RWA president, claimed, “Our colony shares a common wall with the plot on which Lal Gumbad and its cluster monuments stand. We are very concerned that the integrity of the historical structure is being compromised because the ground is being flattened after a fence was put up around it. Trees are also being chopped down and clearly construction work has begun in violation of laws.”
While Gupta added that a JJ colony had sprung up in the area adjoining the Lal Gumbad, Sunil Jain, co-owner of the land, rebutted all charges of encroachment. He told TOI, “The land has belonged to our family for several decades and we only cleaned up the rubble and the garbage there. In fact, I am creating vegetable patches on the land.” He claimed that the Ancient and Historical Monuments Act permitted crop cultivation in protected areas.
As for the RWA’s allegations of fence erection and tree felling, Jain maintained, “No tree has been harmed and the fence has been there for many years. If we hadn’t put up the fence for security, the slum colony would have encroached on our land.”
Speaking to TOI, an Archaeological Survey of India official said, “We have received complaints related to the Lal Gumbad and the allegations of construction on the complex. We will start an inquiry into the matter soon.” In response, Jain said that he would “fully cooperate with the authorities” in the probe because “we are not doing anything illegal”.
Paranthe wali gali
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