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Lost in time

Till a couple of years ago,driving past the domestic airport towards Dwarka was a tedious process.

Written by Alokparna Das |
May 23, 2010 2:47:02 am

Lost in time
Listed as a security threat to the airport,Mehram Nagar may soon be relocated. But the monuments that Mehram Khan,a powerful eunuch in Jahangir’s court,built,may disappear even before that

Till a couple of years ago,driving past the domestic airport towards Dwarka was a tedious process. No underpass,no flyover and worse,a railway crossing where one could get stuck for more than an hour. On that road to the upcoming sub-city,if there was one thing that caught one’s eye,besides the stationary planes at a distance,it was the Mehram Nagar ruin complex. An extensive lime-mortar wall,which once enclosed a garden,a mosque and a sarai in dilapidated condition,two arched gateways— the ruins stretched from the airport to the Airforce Museum.

Now with a new underpass coming up in the area,as part of the airport development plan,an almost intact parapet on one end of the wall stands hidden behind the makeshift office cabin of Valecha Engineering,the company involved in the development work.

The construction of the underpass has led to mounds of soil dwarfing the wall and the adjacent land that once belonged to the Mughal era sarai and mosque have been encroached upon for parking private vehicles and cabs.

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The structures are unprotected. With a recent audit by the Intelligence Bureau listing Mehram Nagar as a security threat to the airport and recommending its relocation,it may not be long before the monuments that Mehram Khan,a powerful eunuch in Jahangir’s court,built,disappear completely.

Ajitpal Rana,a local resident who was allotted land here in 1965,recalled a wall that was longer and higher than the present one. “Encroachment and widening of roads over the years led to its disappearance,” he said.

Search for the lost wall took us to Mahipalpur village. Some guidance from local residents and we were walking the narrow lane uphill to Mahipalpur Mahal that stands overlooking a 14th Century bund used for water recharging and storage. With a dried up water body underneath,the bund certainly looked like a wall,but it wasn’t an extension of the Mehram Nagar wall. The Mahal,a hunting lodge built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq,with arches and pillars overlooking a verandah,had undergone some “renovation” work in 2004 — courtesy a local councilor.

A Kendriya Samaj Kalyan-sponsored crèche functions out of the monument,with its in-charge,Rajbala,saying that some 20-odd local children stay here till about 3 pm.

Local residents,on their part,would rather talk about water crisis than misuse of heritage structures. Climbing down the bund,we noticed a water tank getting stuck at the entry point of the lane. Perhaps the Tughlaq king foresaw water shortage.

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