DU plans heritage tour,light and sound show at Viceregal Lodge

The university also wants to maintain Flagstaff Tower and Mutiny Memorial.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: October 16, 2012 1:16 am

The university also wants to maintain Flagstaff Tower and Mutiny Memorial.

The Viceregal Lodge,which houses the Vice-Chancellor’s office in Delhi University,will soon host heritage tours and sound-and-light shows,V-C Dinesh Singh said on Monday.

“The Chief Minister has promised to provide support to the university for the sound and light show at the Viceregal Lodge. Students of B Tech in Humanities will plan a heritage tour of the building as part of their project work. Barring certain sections of the building,which have been occupied for official purposes,we are thinking of opening the Viceregal Lodge to the public,” Singh said.

Elaborating on the historical importance of the place,he said Bhagat Singh and Rash Behari Bose had been imprisoned in the building’s dungeons.

The Viceregal Lodge had housed five viceroys from 1912 to 1931,till the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The building,which had served as the residence of the last Viceroy,Lord Mountbatten,was renovated during the tenure of former Vice-Chancellor Deepak Nayyar.

“The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was also signed here. The Legislative Assembly used to meet in the rooms that now host meetings of the university’s Academic Council. Similarly,the Executive Council Hall was the chamber of the Executive Council in those years,” Singh said.

“The convocation hall served as the ballroom and the registrar’s room was where Lord Mountbatten had proposed to Edwina. When Edwina told her aunt about his proposal,she was told that she should be engaged to a man with a more promising career. Of course her aunt did not know that Mountbatten would become the Viceroy. A plaque telling this story stands in the registrar’s office,” he said.

Delhi University has also taken over the maintenance of two monuments in the Northern Ridge from the Archaeological Society of India. This includes Flagstaff Tower,a one-room red sandstone structure in Kamla Park,near the V-C office. Several Europeans had taken refuge in the monument during the 1857 revolt. Dr Nayanjot Lahiri,in her article “Commemorating and remembering 1857: the revolt in Delhi and its afterlife”,wrote that bodies of some officers “were sent by the rebels to the Flagstaff Tower on the Ridge where they remained on a cart till June 8,when the British forces found them”.

The Ridge also has a few other monuments. Next to the Hindu Rao Hospital is an Ashokan pillar,inscribed with Ashoka’s policy of dhamma in the Brahmi script,brought to the city by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. A few metres away from the pillar stands a tapering red sandstone structure called Mutiny Memorial. It was built during the British rule,in the memory those who were killed in the 1857 revolt.

“While we also intend to maintain the memorial,we do not know which authority to approach since the monument does not fall under the ASI’s purview,” Singh said.

In an article on the memorial,Lahiri says it was erected “on the site of the artillery unit known as Taylor’s battery,which bore the brunt of rebel fire… The structure is “prolifically inscribed with a narrative of the Delhi revolt”.

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