Government washes its hands off Azimganj Sarai restoration

Government washes its hands off Azimganj Sarai restoration

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The government will not be doing the restoration of Azimganj Sarai as it is not a protected monument of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In a written reply to question whether the government is undertaking the restoration of Azimganj Sarai, Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Culture said yesterday in the Loksabha “The Azimganj Sarai is not a protected monument of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Hence, presently there is no such proposal.”

Azimganj Sarai in Delhi with 108 rooms and a large courtyard, the fort like structure that was the grandest Sarai in the area, built during Mughal emperor Akbar’s reign in the 16th Century which once served historians and travellers who used the Grand Trunk Road.

Azimganj Sarai, located in the near vicinity of The Purana Qila and the Humayun’s Tomb, a World Heritage Site, is in ruins now due to neglect. Most of the area of Azimganj Sarai falls under Delhi zoo. In 2013, Delhi government’s Archaeology Department, under which the structure falls,  and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to undertake the restoration. Last year AKTC completed the Phase I of the restoration in which a portion of the imposing structure was restored. Nearly, 50% of the Sarai has been restored now and the remaining will be done in the Phase II.

Restoration was a challenge due to the vegetation and removing the deep roots without damaging the structure was an uphill task. In Phase I of the project, AKTC used original material to restore the chambers and the boundary wall of the Sarai.

Though the Central government has washed its hands off the restoration, Delhi government is bearing major portion of the cost of restoration.