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In shambles, centuries-old Tughlaqabad Fort in Delhi awaits a facelift

“The bricks in Meena Bazaar continue to fall... Over the years, the molecules have contracted and expanded due to atmospheric conditions. This is inevitable, hence restoration work is necessary in the fort,” said Md Imran, Senior Conservation Assistant.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: June 30, 2019 2:32:01 am
Tughlaqabad fort, Tughlaqabad fort condition, Tughlaqabad fort facelift, archeological survey of India, delhi history, historical places, elhi heritage, indian express The fort, built in 1328, spreads across a six-and-a-half kilometre stretch and is broken into several parts. (Express Archive)

Delhi Quartzite stone bricks, almost 700 years old, are strewn across the Tughlaqabad Fort, waiting to be picked up for restoration.

“The conservation process is underway. Plans to restore the broken walls and the palace area, which is in ruins, are in place. We have recently received the Director General’s approval. The work should begin soon,” said Dr N K Pathak, Superintending Engineer, ASI, Delhi Circle.

“The bricks in Meena Bazaar continue to fall… Over the years, the molecules have contracted and expanded due to atmospheric conditions. This is inevitable, hence restoration work is necessary in the fort,” said Md Imran, Senior Conservation Assistant. “Tughlaqabad Fort is the largest fort in the city. The fort has such potential, if only it is maintained well,” he said.

The fort, built in 1328, spreads across a six-and-a-half kilometre stretch and is broken into several parts. Across the street, the Ghiyasud-din Tomb has undergone major conservation work in the last three years. Tourists flock to the lush green area, while avoiding the fort. “Safety is a concern in the fort. Phones get stolen and people get robbed easily, but we cannot do anything about it,” said a security guard.

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Around 4:30 pm, few students call a guard and ask him to escort them. “I am very scared of monkeys, especially since there are no lights. They attacked me in the dark,” says Hargun Kaur, a student who just gave her class XII examinations.

The 20 guards of the fort share concerns about being short-staffed. “People can enter from the village behind. It would be better if a boundary was made to avoid that and a back gate was in place instead,” they said. “We have been maintaining the area since 1993. The biggest issue in Tughlaqabad is encroachment. The matter has gone to court, but not much has been done about it,” said Praveen Singh, the Deputy Superintending Archaeologist. ASI is currently working on fencing the area, including the encroached areas, with barbed wire, say officials.

“During the Commonwealth Games, the front facade was illuminated by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). But over the last few years, many of them got stolen or stopped working. We have requested DDA to install lights again,” said Singh.

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Washrooms have been built in the tomb and the fort area, but are yet to be opened to the public. “The washrooms are almost complete. Only 5% of the work is left,” said Pathak, referring to the two large structures built in the middle of the tomb area and the fort.

Singh added that ASI has also asked DDA to create a parking space in front of the fort and restore two of the four baolis (stepwells) in the area.

Restoration of the internal pathway and conservation of Meena Bazaar has been proposed this year.

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The proposals first get accepted, then the estimates are sent and tender floated, after which the work begins. “Conservation can take years as they have to find old bricks that fit into the structure, and then replicate the structure to perfection,” said Imran. The funds assigned are not always sufficient, rued officials.

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First published on: 30-06-2019 at 02:29:13 am

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