The popular boat ride at Purana Qila will not make a comeback once the moat at the 16th Century monument is revived. Instead, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) — which manages the fort — is building a jogging track alongside the water body and plans to turn the area into a picnic spot.
The water body, which stretches from the fort’s Talaaqi Darwaza to the Bada Darwaza, will be replenished in the next six months, added the ASI.
A senior ASI official said they had conducted a detailed study of the area and concluded that boating may not be feasible.
NK Pathak, superintending archaeologist, ASI Delhi Circle, said, “We started desilting and cleaning the lake in August last year… deposits and erosion remnants on the surface have been removed. It is now in the final stage. Once it is done, the moat will be filled with water. The track is also being upgraded in the meantime.” He added that they have been given time till the end of the year to finish work.
The boating facility around the monument used to attract more than 2,000 visitors each weekend before it was stopped in August 2016.
This was because the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Authority was unable to renew its agreement with the ASI for the upkeep of the moat. As a result, the water body dried up and boating had to be stopped.
The ASI has engaged the National Buildings Construction Company and several private contractors for the moat revival project.
Officials said the the lake will be recharged during the monsoon with rainwater. “If the monsoon this year is not good, we will talk to the Delhi Jal Board to supply water to the moat,” said an ASI engineer. He added that traditional water sources are unable to replenish the lake anymore owing to construction activity in the vicinity.
Pathak said that once the project is complete, they will ensure plastic bottles are banned inside the monument and will arrange for drinking water facilities for visitors.
The ASI also plans to install underwater fountains on the lake’s surface so that water is circulated continuously and silting doesn’t take place, he added.