Updated: May 23, 2022 7:53:04 am
After reports emerged on Sunday that the Ministry of Culture has ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct excavations at the Qutub Minar in Delhi, officials in the ministry told The Indian Express that no such orders have been issued so far. Union Culture Minister G K Reddy also clarified saying, “No such decision has been taken.”
Culture Secretary Govind Mohan visited the monument on Saturday, after which it was reported that the ASI has been ordered to conduct excavations to ascertain whether the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by Qutubuddin Aibak in the 12th Century or by the Gupta Empire much earlier. The Ministry insisted it was a regular site visit by its officials and no such decision has been taken so far. ASI officials were not available for comment.
A few days ago, former ASI regional director Dharamveer Sharma was quoted as saying that the Qutub Minar was actually a “sun tower” built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta Empire in the 5th Century.
On Saturday, Mohan had spent over two hours there, along with a team of senior officials and historians, wherein various aspects pertaining to the upkeep of monuments were discussed. In the light of a recent letter written by the National Monument Authority to the ASI on moving two Ganesha idols out of the complex, “owing to their disrespectful placement”, the team also visited the adjoining Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, wherein the idols in question are currently placed.
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A source privy to the proceedings added that the ASI has been asked to conduct the iconography of idols at Qutub Minar. It has also been recommended that visitors should be given detailed information on various Hindu and Jain idols located in the complex through appropriate signboards. Even though there has been no decision on conducting excavations, the matter did come up for consideration during the official visit, added the source.
Later, the ministry team also visited the 1,000-year-old Anang Tal lake in the vicinity, which is set to be declared a national monument by the ASI. In fact, Delhi Development Authority vice-chairman Mukesh Gupta also visited the water reservoir Saturday, announcing that the lake’s cleaning up and beautification will begin as soon as next week. The DDA also plans to remove encroachments from the Anang Tal area, the ministry officials said.
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