Free entrance for public today: Archaeological Survey of India

To mark the World Heritage Day, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is all set to roll out a red carpet for citizens of Delhi at the historic Red Fort.

The visitors will be in for a visual treat as the ASI has not only allowed free entrance for the public on Friday but has also carried out major renovation work on this red sandstone palace of Shahjahanabad.

The ASI, working under the Union Culture Ministry’s jurisdiction, has been working round-the-clock to clean the cells in the fort. Work like removing toilets, kitchens and other additional structures put up by the Army inside the cells, located above the Chhatta Chowk Bazaar, are being taken up.

Shoppers’ delight

Interestingly, the bazaar is a major attraction, especially for those who have an eye for artefacts and souvenirs that are a tribute to the ‘karigari’ (craftsmanship) patronised by the Mughal emperors.

According to an ASI conservator, this work is of utmost significance because the Red Fort or the Lal Quila, was designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2007. “The structure is an amalgamation of Persian, Arabic and Hindu architecture. On Friday, we want to give a royal reception to the citizens of Delhi,” the conservator said. As cement and plaster were used extensively in the cells, they threatened the longevity of the red sandstone structure.

“In all heritage structures use of cement is avoided because it has the capacity to degenerate the monument. Therefore, we are using limestone to preserve the structure and enhance its life.”

Till now, work in only one cell – which had little ornamentation and design patterns – has been completed. “Since the 31 other cells, decorated with exquisite design pattern and craftsmanship, have been damaged, we would have to recreate them. It would be done meticulously and literally piece by piece,” he said.

The work is done at night. During the day, visitors and shoppers come from as far as Rampur, Jamshedpur, Jaipur, Amritsar and Jammu.

Traditional masons from Agra and Dhaulpur, who have mastered the art of renovation from their forefathers, have been roped in.

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