CITYSCAPE Many lesser known monuments of the Capital are repositories of Delhi’s chequered past. Time we cared for them, writes R.V.SMITH
Delhi’s glorious heritage is fast getting eroded because of rampant despoliation, encroachment, urbanisation and neglect. Nawab Dojana’s haveli, known as Dojana House in Matia Mahal is now a flatted building which is already showing signs of deterioration. Haveli Sadr Sadur, bang opposite it, has been so encroached upon and rebuilt in parts that it is hard to recognise it. The haveli of Nawab Buddan, said to be a great fashion trendsetter, could not be traced perhaps because of alterations. The old hamam in the same street, which had become a shop, is also not easily recognisable. The building behind Jama Masjid associated with Dara Shikoh has become a school.
The monuments of Mehrauli that are not among the official list (despite Maulvi Zafar Hasan’s classification) are slowly disappearing as most of the care and attention is lavished by the Archaeological Department on the well-known edifices. The same is the case in Nizamuddin area. The gateway of the house of Mirza Jahangir, favourite son of Akbar Shah II and Queen Mumtaz Mahal II, in the Nizamuddin Dargah complex is showing signs of deterioration. His tomb and that of Mohammad Shah Rangila (which look almost identical) are also showing signs of wear and tear. Mirza Jahangir is the one whose return from exile in Allahabad in the early 19th Century resulted in the institution of the annual Phool Walon-ki-Sair. The Tughlak period Langar Khana in the same complex is a picture of neglect as is the eastern gateway of the Dargah.
The two dalans or verandahs of Atgah Khan’s tomb complex, which were used as khanqas or hospices in Mughal times, look dilapidated. Atgah Khan was the husband of Ji Ji Angah, a wet nurse of Akbar, who was murdered by Adham Khan, son of the other wet nurse, Maham Anga out of jealousy. Atgah’s mausoleum has however been renovated under the restoration plan of the Aga Khan Trust. Bari-ka-Gumbad, east of Atgah Khan’s tomb, is deteriorating, so also a gateway north of the Chausath Khamba. The gateway of Inner Kot, west of Kali Masjid, is in a bad state. It leads to a small fortification which, according to INTACH, once had the houses of the Pirzadas of the Nizamuddin Dargah. Khan-i-Jahan Tighlinani’s tomb in Nizamuddin village shows signs of serious deterioration. He was the Wazir of Firoz Shah Tughlak and father of Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, who succeeded him as Wazir. It is supposed to be the first octagonal tomb built in Delhi. New buildings have come up close to the tomb so that it is hemmed in between them. Junan Shah built several mosques, some say nine, in Delhi of which the Khirki masjid is one.
A mosque similar to it was constructed by him in Nizamuddin. But Halima’s tomb is more of a ruin though the gateway is well preserved. But the same cannot be said of the gateway of Arab-ki-Sarai. The tomb of Sayyid Yasin of the Lodi period nearby on Mathura Road is another picture of neglect. Afsarwala tomb and mosque of Akbar’s reign, dating to 1566-67, also shows deterioration. Afsarwala seems to have been a royal court official. The Sundarwala Burj, Mahal and well of Sundar Bagh nursery are in need of better upkeep. Bara Bateshwarwala Mahal and Chhota Bateshwarwala Mahal are also deteriorating. Bara Bateshwarwala Mahal has the tomb of Muzzafar Husain Mirza, a grand nephew of Humayun, who died in 1603-1604, a year or two before Akbar. The Chhota Bateshwarwala Mahal contains the tomb of an unidentified nobleman of the early Mughal period. Chilla Nizamuddin, north of Humayun’s Tomb, erected by Firoz Shah Tughlak, now has Dumduma Sahib gurudwara as its neighbour and is a picture of neglect. So also the grave platform, east of Bhartiyan, built of Lahori brick and containing many unidentified tombs.
Gol Gumbad on Lodi Road and Khan-e-Dauran Khan’s mosque, west of the Nizamuddin Dargah complex, are rapidly deteriorating. The former is the tomb of Khan Bahadur Mansur Jung, who held the mansabh of 7,000 (horse) during the reign of Farruksiyar in the early 18th Century. He died in 1739 when Mohammad Shah was on the throne in the year Nadir Shah invaded Delhi. The Gumti in Kotla Mubarakpur contains a pavilion of Lodi times and is in a seriously deteriorated state. A forgotten tomb, situated off Mathura Road in open land, east of the Nizamuddin flyover, also of the Lodi period is slowly crumbling as it does not find mention in historical records.
There are many such structures dotted all over Delhi that are suffering neglect on that account. Yet they too are the repositories of the Capital’s chequered past and could be saved for posterity if the ASI shows more initiative. Kale Khan-ka-Gumbad, in which is situated the tomb of Mubarak Khan, father of Darya Khan Lohani, in South Extension-I belongs to the Lodi period and is believed to have been built in 1481 during the reign of Bahlul Lodi. As such it is a monument that needs greater care. Such grand monuments, had they been in some other country, would have been preserved with great care but unfortunately this is not the case in India and what’s more in its Capital!