National

Tomb being converted into a temple

New Delhi: Delhi is probably the city where there are maximum number of tombs and mosques of historical importance in addition to many important buildings and monuments of national and historical importance. Many of them have already vanished from the face of history and replaced by new and modern buildings and houses and many are deliberately being allowed to die their natural death because of ‘old age’, ravages of time and neglect inspite of the existence of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) whose job it is to protect and maintain them as far as possible. Some of them have lost their shape altogether, become places of get-together of unsocial elements, criminals, resting places of stray animals or become thoroughfares. One of them is a big tomb of Tughlaq era in Delhi’s Greater Kailash locality which is considered to be about 500 years old, according to the Board put up by ASI. To connoisseurs of the art of architecture it would convince that the builders of this tomb must have been architects of high calibre and skill.

Tomb being converted into a temple

According to the people living in Greater Kailash since long, the maximum damage to this great tomb has been caused during the past about 50 years. Its main gate is totally broken, many big and small graves within its campus are broken, its walls, ceilings etc. are crumbling, precious, beautiful and shining stones used in this tomb have either fallen down or removed and empty holes where these stones were fitted can be seen. The tomb has become a thoroughfare and only a short while ago was centre of unsocial and immoral activities, but what is more surprising and regrettable is that efforts are now being made to convert it into a temple.

According to Richi Varma, a member of the team which is entrusted with the task of surveying Delhi’s historical buildings and monuments, some people want to convert this tomb into a temple and the process in this connection has already begun. An idol of Saraswati Devi has been installed in a corner of this tomb. Other preparations are also being made to make this tomb look like a temple. Swastik marks and other religious symbols can also be seen in this tomb. Flowers and garlands also are being offered to the idol and many educated and religious minded people have also started sitting around the idol in the form of a group. This leaves no one in doubt that the process of a temple in making is going on. Attention of ASI officials has been invited to this process and even otherwise they are fully in the know of this gradual process of conversion but no action has been or is being taken by them to stop this process.

For demolition of this tomb, it is argued that it is occupying too much space which creates difficulty in the free movement of traffic. It is considered that a rather smaller area where the idol is placed will be spared and the remaining portion and other existing tombs etc. will be demolished after which Saraswati temple will come up. A somewhat similar process had begun in 1949 inside Babri Masjid.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 7

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