The Hastsal Minar bears a striking resemblance to the Qutub Minar but little is known about it
If the Qutub Minar sometimes has trouble keeping off insensitive visitors,20 km away,its cousin in West Delhis Hastsal village has never had any such trouble. The occasional tourist asks for the small Qutub Minar,saunters in,clicks a few pictures and is out again. This is the Hastsal Minar,a three-storey minaret in red sandstone and brick that Emperor Shah Jahan built in the 1650s as a hunting lodge.
The minar has survived years of neglect and anonymity and has stood back to let the surrounding concrete chaos overwhelm it. The minar is 17 metres high and rises above a two-tiered platform. Like its more famous cousin,it has a narrow staircase that leads to the top of the minar. The minar also has a six-km-long tunnel that connects it to the neighbouring baradari. The baradari is actually a talan (resting place) thats part of the shikargah, says Ajay Kumar,programme officer,Delhi Chapter of Intach.
Very little is known about the Hastsal Minar and the monument lies neglected. There are no plaques explaining the historical background of the minar. Sixty six-year-old Ramanand Bagri,whose house is opposite the minar,says,We dont know much about it. But the story is that this area used to remain submerged in water and elephants used to rest here. And thats how it got its name Hastsalfrom haathi (elephant) and sthal (place).
Satbir Singh Taygi,a 78-year-old who lives in the locality,says,Earlier,when senior officials like the tehsildar visited the area,they would be taken to the minar. Nobody comes now.
But Bagri says the condition of the minar is a lot better than it used to be. The outer walls,the staircase inside and the entrance gate were spruced up recently. Now it has a wired boundary around it and it is cleaned almost every week, he says.
The Department of Archeology,Government of Delhi,has signed an MoU with Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) for renovation of historical monuments in Delhi,and Hastsal Minar is one of the 92 structures that will soon be taken up in Phase 1.