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Safdarjung Tomb dome damaged in rain, ASI to start repairs

On being asked about the extent of damages, an ASI spokesperson said, “We are aware of the damages and are preparing a detailed plan for repairs as per our team’s assessment. It will start within a week.”  

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: September 18, 2021 6:11:52 pm
DelhiThe marble structure, which was built for Nawab Safdarjung in 1754 in the late Mughal Empire, is one of the 174 ASI-protected monuments in Delhi. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The dome of the 18th century Safdarjung Tomb on Aurobindo Marg has suffered damages owing to the recent rains. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken cognisance of the matter and will begin a repair exercise soon.

On Saturday morning, Delhi-based historian S Irfan Habib tweeted: “This is Safdar Jung Tomb, an 18th century monument in the heart of Delhi. Needs urgent attention of #ASI , the dome has developed cracks, with weed growing all over it. We just saw part of Begumpur mosque collapse. Photo via @IamAdvRizvi @DalrympleWill.”

On being asked about the extent of damages, an ASI spokesperson said, “We are aware of the damages and are preparing a detailed plan for repairs as per our team’s assessment. It will start within a week.”

The marble structure, which was built for Nawab Safdarjung in 1754 in the late Mughal Empire, is one of the 174 ASI-protected monuments in Delhi.

The ASI added that repair and conservation work at the monument was already on in 2019-20 but they had to stop owing to the Covid-induced lockdown.

During the lockdown, the conservation and maintenance work at several ASI monuments suffered owing to “restrictions and labour crunch”. The recent rains have added to the agency’s woes and they plan to restart their conservation schedule at various monuments across the capital, the official added.

In 2019, it became the third ASI-protected monument in Delhi to be illuminated, after Red Fort and Purana Qila.

The ASI had embarked on a project to restore and highlight the architectural beauty of important Mughal-era monuments, also including Qutab Minar and Tughlaqabad Fort. To highlight the architecture of the monument, including arches and minarets, 213 technologically advanced LED lights were installed.

Habib had also tweeted stating that the Begumpur Mosque in Malviya Nagar has been damaged — something which the ASI has categorically denied. It also said that historian William Dalrymple’s earlier tweets and pictures on the issue are “fake”.

Earlier this week, Dalrymple had claimed on Twitter that portions of the roof of the 14th-century Begumpur Masjid have collapsed recently due to rain. But the ASI shared visual evidence from the 1980s to show that the roof was damaged even then.

“No recent collapses have taken place in Begumpur Mosque. ASI categorically denies it,” said the ASI official.

The body also said that the mosque has not been neglected at all, and it has been carrying out conservation and repair work there for the past few months.

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