Upkeep, exposure of monuments transferred to the varsity

“Do you know the name of the wise man who brought the Ashoka Pillar all the way from Meerut into the city to rest right here, in the middle of our university?” says Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh.

Not receiving an answer, Prof. Singh explains it was around the 14th century that Emperor Feroz Shah Tuglaq brought this symbol of peace into the city.

The Vice-Chancellor also says that soon most people around the vicinity will know the answer to this question as well as several other questions about the historical ruins and magnificent edicts to our past that surround the university’s north campus — as the varsity has almost concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), that transfers the upkeep and public exposure of the monuments over to Delhi University.

The historic flag-staff in front of the famous Ridge area, the Khooni Khan Lake within the ridge, the Ashoka Pillar and the Mutiny Memorial are all on the list.

“We had requested the ASI for the upkeep of the monuments and they responded magnificently, generously and with a sense of purpose,” said Prof. Singh, adding it was an onerous responsibility and that they had every intention of seeing that the monuments received every type of attention they deserved.

“We will be placing visual material strategically close to these monuments so that people know about the story behind every fading stone,” he said.

Heritage walks, sound and light programmes and hands-on learning of history for his students are all part of the big plans that Prof. Singh has in store.

“Come June 2013, our students from the four-year undergraduate programmes will be put in-charge of the heritage walk. They will also be responsible for working and coming up with visual material and scripts, anything that can help them learn history,” he said.

Recalling how the Anthropology Department itself was once a mess for the English Cavalry, Prof. Singh said: “It is things like this where history is learnt from — actually being in the place of the event and how the people in the past lived, that will be the USP of the four-year undergraduate courses”.

“We will also be approaching Delhi Government for carrying out the sound and light show on a regular basis at the Vice-Regal Lodge. It has been in the offing sometime now and we hope to start by June 2013, at the earliest.”

Although the script is not ready yet, Prof. Singh had earlier talked about his plans for the sound and light programme, which was to tell the incredible story of the Vice-Regal Lodge, the university and the personalities and events that the lodge silently witnessed. The opening act will begin with the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 when the British, be they soldiers, children or shopkeepers — whomsoever managed to escape the rioting crowds inside Delhi — made their way towards the Ridge, north of the city and took shelter at the Flag-staff Towers…a stone’s throw away from the Vice-Regal Lodge, then a nondescript hunting lodge set within wild forest.

The crucial seize of Delhi by the British, which wrested back the city from the rebellion, was also played out at the Ridge and might form a part of the show.