Though Delhi’s quest for getting “World Heritage City” tag has been extended till 2015, the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage’s Delhi Chapter, which is spearheading the campaign, sees this as a fortuitous opportunity. With the Union Ministry of Tourism granting a substantial sum to the Delhi Government to improve tourism infrastructure, INTACH members feel many pending heritage projects will be completed by the time the UNESCO team comes around for an inspection.
“We see it as fortuitous since it enables us to make a much better document,” said INTACH Delhi Chapter convenor A. G. K. Menon about the final nomination dossier that is being prepared. “Since the funds available with the Government are time-bound, money will be released immediately for certain projects.”
The projects are chosen strategically so as to strengthen Delhi’s nomination, he added.
For instance, since the final dossier will promote both Shahjahanabad and Interior New Delhi (Lutyens’ Delhi) as World Heritage cities, INTACH plans to use part of the funds for installing signs, lighting and streetscape parts of Shahjahanabad. “Lanes and gullies will be surveyed and cables will be placed underground. Similarly, lighting and street furniture will be fixed,” said Mr. Menon. In addition, an interpretation centre is being planned either in the Town Hall or the Dara Shikoh Library so visitors can appreciate the history of Shahjahanabad.
With the available funds, INTACH has also persuaded the Archaeological Survey of India to set up an interpretation centre at the Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Though it is a World Heritage site, it is very disorganised outside the monument with a need to re-design the entire area surrounding it,” said Mr. Menon.
Also in line for re-designing will be areas surrounding Feroze Shah Kotla, Purana Qila and Hauz Khas. “Many years ago INTACH began a project called the ‘Heritage Route’ with the aim of linking heritage sites. The idea was to make the surroundings more organised for visitors. While we cannot touch the monuments, we can improve the access to these monuments,” he added.
The funds will also help ASI go beyond conservation and help restore two monuments in Mehrauli: Zafar Mahal and Jahaz Mahal. “Some monuments need to be restored rather than conserved. Even though ruins can be appreciated as ruins, it will be interesting to see how it originally looked.”
Perhaps the most fascinating project that INTACH plans to venture into is recreating the Mughal Gardens at Safdarjung Tomb, Shalimar Bagh and Roshanara Garden. “The gardens will be recreated based on evidence available. This will be tested against scholars who have studied these monuments,” said Mr. Menon.