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|To see the apathy of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) towards heritage buildings, just go to village Mahipalpur in the Delhi. There lies a 14th century building, probably constructed by the greatest Tugluq ruler, Firoz Shah Tugluq to serve as a hunting lodge. The ‘Mahal’ as the local people call it is an integral part of their life. They are proud of having it in their village and bowing their gratitude to this building because of which this village figures on the historical map of this country and even the foreigners visit this place.
Emotionally they are so attached to it that they want to protect it at every cost but the ASI responsible for the upkeep of such buildings thinks differently. It does not seem bothered about this monument and its importance for the villagers.
Like many other historical buildings particularly constructed by the Muslim rulers, the ‘Mahal’ also gets a step motherly treatment. “The other hunting lodges such as the ones near Teen Murti and Hindurao Hospital which have architectural style similar to the Mahal are protected by the ASI”, says Ratish Nanda, a conservation architect. Despite being mentioned in the 1919 listings of the ASI as a building which should be protected and figuring in the INTACH Publication Delhi the Built Heritage, the Mahal remains excluded from its list of protected monuments.
Indifference of the ASI has brought the Mahal in a state that it has become a substitute school for the children and occasionally a barat ghar.
Negligence of the Mahal by the ASI has made the villagers apprehensive of losing their pride and to protect it, they have formed a village Panchayat Committee which has taken all responsibilities that include white washing and repairs.
Unaware of the historical significance of this building and lack of their knowledge of the methods to keep its beauty unaffected, the villagers have done more harm than good to the Mahal.
In order to keep it beautiful, they have destroyed its beauty. The materials used in white washing and repairs have proved detrimental to the Mahal because of which, beauty of this building is lost.
Their efforts to protect it from encroachments could not stop demolition of some parts of this building. Parts of it, which were recorded in the 1919 ASI listing have been demolished.
¯ MG News Desk