Delhi Wakf Board chief executive officer Shamim Akhtar has gifted his black and white photographs of medieval monuments of the Capital to the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) at Lodhi Road.
Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Akhtar said the underlying objective behind the exhibition, which will be permanently displayed at IICC, is to create a sense of pride among Delhiites about their national heritage and also not take a myopic view of these as Islamic structures.
Mr. Akhtar said the young generation should learn to respect these monuments and not deface them by writing names and other inconsequential details on them.
“Why do people frequenting Lodhi Gardens have to deface the monuments? I was also horrified to observe during my recent visit to the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves that they, too, were defaced. We need to value our past. Delhi is one of the oldest cities in the world and its citizens need to acknowledge its glorious civilization,” said Mr. Akhtar, who has made Delhi his home for the past 22 years and visited each monument that dots the city.
Mr. Akhtar, who along with his wife recently produced a book on the monuments of Delhi, said: “We have innumerable historical books on monuments. While the British scholars have portrayed the monuments as legacy of the Islamic invasion, the Islamic scholars have presented them as glorious period. So, my wife and I, both alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University, produced a value-neutral book. It has 125 pictures and some of them have been gifted to IICC.”
Along with pictures of monuments, that occupy the pride of place, there are details of how societies developed. “We had to do plenty of research work.”
Mr. Akhtar said the objective of this exhibition is not to urge the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take control of monuments. ``This is not the goal of this exhibition. ASI does not take control of monuments in which people pray. People who offer namaz in the monuments never deface them.”
A passionate photographer since childhood, Mr. Akhtar does all kinds of shoots.
He has made two solo bike trips to Ladakh that has resulted in his coffee table book Road to Ladakh .