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Published in the 16-31 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Country’s first tomb is victim of ASI’s neglect
By Pankaj Tyagi

New Delhi: Country’s first tomb, Sultan Garhi built by Sultan Iltutmish in 1231 for his eldest son and Razia Sultana’s brother, Nasiruddin Mahmood, situated in the woodlands of Vasant Kunj [opposite Sector C, Pocket 9, Vasant Kunj in Delhi is today a victim of neglect and fighting the battle for its very existence. At that time this place was known as Malkapur. Percy Brown, describing its architectural beauty, writes that its dome and arches are its main features. Another historian, Ferguson has also praised its octagonal central hall and high dome.

An inside view of the Sultan Ghari tomb

An inside view of the Sultan Ghari tomb

This historical monument, like all other historical monuments, is under the charge of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ravages of time have almost completely changed its original beauty and design though ASI tries to simply maintain its dilapidated structure but the surrounding area outside this tomb is so dirty and a victim of carelessness and neglect that it is difficult to even breathe there. Presently it is the abode of wild pigeons, bats, goats, dogs, pigs etc. ASI’s annual budget is more than Rs 2000 million but it appears that it has nothing except putting up two boards describing a brief history of the monument and warning not to damage this already ruined building. ASI cannot rebuild a dilapidated tomb but it can at least make the surrounding areas clean, worthy its unique position as the country’s first tomb. About two years ago the ASI had thought of earning a revenue even from this dilapidated and ruined building and had levied an entry fee of Rs 5 but it had to give up the idea because of strong opposition of the local people.

Sultan Ghari tomb fromoutside

Sultan Ghari tomb fromoutside

It is noteworthy that people of neighbouring areas of Mahipalpur and Rangpur consider it as the tomb of saintly ‘peer’ and come here for worship. It is a venerable place of worship and prayers for both Hindus and Muslims. For new brides of these villages it is almost a must to visit this place for worship. The fact is that more than ASI, people of the surrounding villages maintain and look after this tomb in a better way.

Delhi Sultan Garhi carvings on the doors and niches Chairman of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s Delhi Chapter, O.P Jain said that sometimes back DDA had accepted to take its charge for ensuring cleanliness and maintenance of the outer areas of Sultan Garhi but ASI did not agreed to this proposal. ¤


Pix: Delhi Sultan Garhi carvings on the doors and niches

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