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Restoration of Delhi’s Heritage Buildings

Restoration of Delhi’s Heritage Buildings
Heritage refers to the quondam era that needs preservation, the one whose physical remains evidently narrate a story related to our history. The word ‘heritage’ here signifies the buildings that hold great architectural, economical, cultural and historical values. The premises or the surroundings of the building also help us to interpret the history related to the site, in order to draw the cultural map. And the heritage of Delhi boasts of the settlements of the Ashokan, Buddhists, Sayyids, Lodhis, Mughals and Britishers. Such an enriched city which recites the hymn of every period must be conserved with special care. These heritage sites that stand selflessly with stillness do not need to be in conflict with human interventions – scribbling on walls, scratching, and urbanization.
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In Delhi, a multi tiered approach is undertaken- the responsibility of conserving the buildings is undertaken jointly by the state Department of Archeology and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Archeological Survey of India lists 174 heritage buildings in Delhi that include Mazar of Mirza Ghalib, Tomb of Khan-i-Khana, Humayun’s tomb, Grave of Mohammed Shah, Moti Masjid, Jahaz Mahal, Nili Mosque, Chor Minar, Tomb of Amir Khusro, Begampuri Masjid and Lal Gumbad.

The conservation master plan of Delhi 2021 had the following recommendations.

  • Regularly maintaining the database of the heritage sites
  • Identifying the development guidelines
  • Spreading awareness of the importance of heritage restoration through various means
  • Identifying the heritage zones
  • Identifying archeological parks
  • The local agencies that owe any land must devise plans for heritage conversation

The heritage buildings are categorized into

  • Grade A(no changes can be made),
  • Grade B (minor changes can be made)
  • Grade C (building can be altered)

Many conservational design strategies were undertaken by several bodies to implement the restoration process. The Connaught Place restoration project has transformed the entire site into an amalgamation of colonial and global era.   When the Garden of Humayun’s Tomb was restored, all illegal intrusions were removed and the place has now regained its lost sheen. Nizamuddin baoli, the only surviving stepwell was restored by the Agha Khan Development Network; and the removal of encroachments brought its glory back.

However, the authorities still have a long way to go. Sites like Ghalib Ki haveli, Mehrauli Arheological Park and Tughalaqabad Fort need major restoration work. Also, the conservation strategies cannot work without the support of the citizens.

  • No vehicles must be allowed to enter the restricted historical sites.
  • Heavy charges must be levied upon the people who try to harm the heritage buildings
  • Regulative measures for shopping façade
  • Urban planning must be done in coordination with the ancient history
  • Controlling the hoardings around historical sites

Development fulfills a purpose only when the local citizens are made stakeholders. Restoration is not only a physical process but it binds the ethnicity, nationality and origin of the place together and leaves us with an exquisite treasure for the coming generations, awaiting to recreate the period when it was first constructed.

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