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12 historic monuments go missing in Delhi

The Archaeological Survey of India records put the number of missing monuments to a total of 35 across India.

Aditya Sakorkar  NEW DELHI | 6th Apr 2013

The Curzon House Compound, which was home to one of the Siege Batteries during the Mutiny of 1857, is now a housing society. | Photograph: Aditya Sakorkar

12 monuments/sites of historic importance have gone missing from Delhi over the years because of urbanisation and development work. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) records put the number of missing monuments to a total of 35 across India. Five of Delhi's 12 monuments belong to the 1857 mutiny. Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch admitted that these monuments were missing when BJP MP Nishikant Dubey raised a question during the budget session of Parliament last month.

The ASI, in response to an RTI application filed by this newspaper, provided the list of the 12 monuments and their last known locations.

* The Tomb of Captain Mc. Barnett and other British soldiers, which was built during the mutiny in "Kishanganj", existed until August 1947 opposite the Delhi Cloth Mills and was known as "Gore ki Kabar" (white man's grave). It was demolished by the military on the orders of the government on 5 September 1947.

* Another monument, the "Tomb with Three Domes" near Nizamuddin railway station, according to ASI records, has more or less disappeared. A few remains are said to be still visible, but the people this reporter interacted with at Nizamuddin did not know of the tomb's existence.

* The Moti Gate of Sher Shah's Delhi, which was made a Centrally protected monument on 1 March 1913, ceased to be a part of the list of protected monuments in 1928 and went missing. According to the ASI, the monument is yet to be traced.

* The Pool Chadar monument, which was built during the late Mughal period, was demolished for the construction of the Delhi-Rohtak road in the 1970s.

* The Alipur Cemetery, which is associated with 1857, was destroyed during the construction of the bypass on GT Karnal Road near Alipur village in the 1980s.Image 2nd

* The Nicholson statue, which used to stand in front of Mori Gate in North Delhi, was taken to Canada in the 1970s. The place where the statue existed is now a traffic island in a square that connects Gokhale Road and Kacheri Road near Mori Gate. Mohammed Shaqeel, a trader who operates from Kacheri Road, said, "Yes there used to be a statue here. This was the area from where Nicholson entered Delhi during 1857."

* The site of Siege Battery, which was associated with 1857, was located in what is now the Police Lines near Kashmiri Gate in North Delhi. It was demolished by "hospital authorities of NCT Delhi" in 1995. Interestingly, an FIR was lodged against the demolition.

* Another Siege Battery site was located in the "compound of Curzon House". It was demolished in the 1980s when the Swiss Apartments and Ludlo Castle School (no. 1) were constructed. The compound now houses the Oberoi Apartments and Ludlo School in an adjoining compound near the Kashmiri Gate Metro station.

* The Shamsi Talab, also known as Hauz Shamsi, does not appear in the 1928 List of Protected Monuments, although, this site was declared to be Centrally protected in the Punjab Gazette on 15 February 1908.

The other Delhi monuments that have gone missing are the Bara Khamba Cemetery in "Imperial City", the Ichla Wali Gumti in Kotla Mubarakpur village and the Joga Bai mound in Jamia Nagar.

Professor A.G.K. Menon, convener of the Delhi Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) said, "There is no doubt that development is very important for our country. However, the planning involved in development needs to be better coordinated. People think of monuments as a hindrance to development. But they need to understand that development and conservation can go hand-in-hand."

Supriya Varma, associate professor at the Centre for Historical Studies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said, "We don't value heritage in India. To change this more awareness needs to spread among people. An ideal way to do so would be to teach the importance of heritage at the school level."

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