Mehrauli is an important historic “urban village” of Delhi. It is synonomous to the Kutub complex which has been selected for nomination in the World Heritage List. Apart from the Kutub complex, the fact that Mehrauli consists of numerous other exceptional buildings and groups of structures set in spectacular landscape is quite unknown. The site of two medieval capitals, that of Rai Pithora and Lalkot is also located just outside the “urban village”. The settlement of Mehrauli itself which contains a substantial quantity of built heritage has also to be considered for conservation. The underground heritage of Mehrauli adds yet another dimension which is as important as the surviving architectural heritage.

Unfortunately modern planning in India has never considered the city as a cultural artifact. Neither has it come to term with the rapid rate of transformation and change that is occurring within our historic areas. It is a wide and complex subject but essential in the management of historic areas. It is apparent that the future visualised for Mehrauli cannot be a static or frozen one. Its potential for growth and development has to be realized and interventions within the existing social and physical fabric which will hence occur will have to be guided competently. The future development has to be conceived sensitively. The future development has to be conceived sensitively considering both the local inhabitants and its impact on the heritage itself.

The Village Development Plan prepared by the DDA for Mehrauli considered aspects such as infrastructure provision, road widening and some welfare measures. While the fact that a plan had been made specifically for Mehrauli is commendable and forms an important point of reference, the fact that Mehrauli is an important historic settlement (900 years old) has not been recognised. It ignores both the natural and built environment. Also the level of documentation on which it has based its findings is inadequate.


Since the formulation of the Masterplan, Mehrauli has growth and changed considerably. Planning and development measures initiate a series of changes which have long term implications. So also in Mehrauli many of its problems are dut to unforeseen results of official planning and development measures by the various agencies. In the recent pas planning decisions have affected the historic fabric of Mehrauli adversely such as the location of the new bus terminus which has corroded its landscape and built environment. The Competent Motors workshop and GPO under construction have come anticipating the proposed road, recommended by the Village Development plan, along the eastern edge of the settlement which itself is disastrous to the historic fabric.

An understanding of transformation and change is essential to conservation because it has to be integrated into the planning and conservation process. The existing planning process totally ignores this dynamic quality of living settlement.

All living cities especially historic cities are continuously transforming and changing themselves. In recent times there is a great increase in the rate of change in our historic core areas. This voluntary renewal of a place on the basis of what is profitable is constant and universal process. In this scenario if heritage is made profitable and positive then the management of the Heritage Zone becomes a reality.

The complexity of change has to be grasped; it is not one change happening at one point of time but numerous changes acting together. An examination of the process of change in Mehrauli Heritage zone was felt an essential task because only then can it be managed and guided. In this study an attempt was made to quantify and document change by incorporating this aspect in the various inventories.

Change can be perceived visually. The types of changes observed in Mehrauli are – Facade change, Use change, Extensions, Amalgamations, Subdivision, Adaptation, Redevelopment, etc. Economic market forces cause change whose effect can be seen physically through the redevelopment genrerated. It has been observed that the local authority through their increased role in the city become the agency for change due to the various decision and planning proposals. The inevitable “developer” of Mehrauli is responsible for the most drastic change ie demolition of historic structures.

In Mehrauli the high cost of land, inavailability of land and large size of plots all make it rational to sell thus corroding the historic fabric. As a result historic buildings disappear. The buildings on the other hand even though of high cultural value are obsolete in financial terms, the complicated ownership and occupancy characteristics all contribute further to its poor condition and deterioration.

With the expansion of Delhi the very location of Mehrauli has become central further increasing pressure on the built stock and the consequent changes are apparent. The existing planning controls themselves trigger off changes not envisaged by the authorities. Then of course the encroachment and unauthorised constructions which falls outside of the world of official planning itself is another type of change.


This project began as a natural sequel to the demolition (the most extreme form of transformation) of the unprotected 16th century chaumachi tomb bringing to public notice the pressure on historic buildings and the need of incorporating their survivial into the planning and development process.

This pioneer study to establish a Heritage Zone was commissioned by DDA in 1988 to provide an alternative development plan for the “urban village” Mehrauli. The need for a Heritage Zone arises primarily because Mehrauli has a potential for growth and development especially within the existing tourism, recreational and commercial sectors. This project was initiated by Intach, sponsered and financed by DDA. The encouragement and support received from the various departments during the study such as ASI, Deptt of Archaeology, Conservation cell and City Planning wing of the DDA showed the official concern and inclination to find a solution for historic areas.

It is only recently that the authorities have come to understand that cultural, historical, and environmental considerations form a integral part of the planning and development process. But at present the local authority is faced with serious limitations mainly a lack of trained personnel, and incorrect departmentalisation which is not conducive to interdisciplinary work.

The richness of Mehrauli that was discovered during the course of the study generated a great deal of interest with the younger generation especially among students who took up individual studies in the areas of design, research and documentation. Some participated in the project as volunteers. The survey and research conducted, led to the rediscovery of local architecture and urban settlement patterns, These findings led to the making of an Audio Visual on Mehrauli by conservation Society Delhi – a local pressure group. The AV was as an experiment in interpretation and communication of historical data into a more popular form.


The approach adopted in this report is a “holistic and indigenous” one based on a conceptual framework developed by Nalini Thakur, specifically for the Indian situation. The validity of the framework was tested in the project of Mehrauli and that proved to be successful.

In this framework management of the built heritage can be visualised in four levels: “context”, “paramenters”,”components” and “action”. Among these levels the last two levels are understood by the better informed sections of community including the decision makers. But the first two levels are important because they concern the people, the place and the dimension of time. This also implies a decentralised organization will be

Required for successful management of heritage areas. Cultural, historical, geographical aspects and their interpretations are “contextual” level 1 concerns which hold the keys to conservation. Techniques and organisation are based on a precise and intelligent understanding of the “context”. At the project level conservation takes a “holistic” view of the people, place and time.

It is also well known that management of heritage cannot be tackled in isolation. It is “level 2” or the “Parameters” that specifically places conservation in the context of our constitution, national policies, administrative framework and development process. The various linkages that exist and the implications of other policies to conservation interests become explicit only at this level. Therefore conservation is closely connected with development planning, physical planning process and administrative set-up. (Refer – Conservation Policy for India – A “Historic” Framework by Nalini Thakur).

Apart from the above framework we have also adopted and interpreted the INTACH concept of the Heritage Zone which takes into account the natural, built and cultural heritage of a settlement in a holistic manner. The “holistic” Integrated Conservation of Mehrauli Heritage Zone accepts the fact that in India we are not functioning in a vacuum and that there is a developed system in the form of government agencies and various institutions already functioning in allied fields. In this report there is an attempt integrate the management of cultural heritage into the existing system. Therefore this report tries to “holistically” incorporate the existing historical context – both architectural and archaeological, with development and planning measures, and community participation from the very foundation.

The integrated Conservation approach demands precise information before proposals can be made. Ond of our major tasks has been to construct an adequate information base in order to define the extent and character of heritage zone of Mehrauli. Once Mehrauli is established as a site of cultural, historical and architectural heritage value in the context of its natural environment, new ways and techniques of intervention emerge. Integrated development and conservation and planning within the historic fabric. However, it must be based on specific and not generalised ideas of development which grasps the true dynamic of the development.


This study gives a comprehensive overview of the community patterns and status of built heritage stock in Mehrauli. It is not a detailed documentation of the existing architectural heritage nor of its community, rather these aspects are considered only as a first step towards the identification of major issues and problems in Mehrauli. This report concerns itself mainly with the study of the built and landscape heritage.

The team that has contributed to the report is a multidisciplinary one with specialisations in landscape architecture, human settlements and conservation. Hence, techniques from different disciplines were freely used.


The size and complexity of Mehrauli does not lend itself to a comprehensive investigation in the limited time period. Therefore seven representative areas within Mehrauli were selected for detailed studies of their physical, social or landscape quality. These seven areas together give a picture of what Mehrauli is made up of. The areas are diverse and bring out altogether different issues. The techniques and disciplines required to study these areas are also varied. The case study areas are as follows: -

  1. DDA Park: Now a designated park stands over rai pithora, the capital of prithviraj chauhan. It is located south of the Kutub complex and east of the settlement of Mehrauli and extends till the Chatterpur road.
  2. Hauz Shamsi: This tank has existed from the Slave times (12th Century). It is managed by the Delhi Administration. Annual festival collectes VIPs and due to this gets a lot of attention by the local administration.
  3. Jharna: This is an example of the ingenious way in which hydrology and landform were utilized. A Late Mughal garden (18th Century) has been created in this location. Present day activities at the Jharna and Government proposals affecting it will be studied.
  4. Sohan Burj: This is a typical case where monuments have been converted into temporary housing for immigrants. This is in the process of being consolidated into a more pucca ensemble.
  5. Chaumachi Tomb: This particular case study attempts to look into the issue of demolition of the historic fabric. The present owner intends to demolish the tomb and redevelop the site. The tomb was constructed in the years before the completion of Humayun’s Tomb and after the reign of Sher Shah. It is what is called early “Akbarid” a period when it was common for buildings to display hybrid characteristics. It is a rare specimen of its type as very few buildings of that period survive today.
  6. Zafar Mahal Area: Zafar Mahal is the place of the Late Mughals. This must have been the most important area of Mehrauli during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Our aim was to define the extent of the place including the original settlement around it and to study what it has become today.
  7. Central Commercial Spine: The street elevation forms a major architectural feature of Mehrauli.
  8. Haveli / Shop-house Area: Mehrauli is famous for its beautiful havelis some of those situated along the central commercial spine will be studied in order to see how this heritage type can be conserved and adapted for compatible future use.


In our country it is well known that information about historic areas is scant. Therefore in each project a major task becomes the “Rediscovery of the Architecture” of the chosen area. It also follows that certain methods have a place in Indian conservation namely literature surveys, physical surveys and socio-economic surveys. These methods have been used extensively in Mehrauli. Innovations such as computerised inventories of historic building stock were used to demonstrate its validity in the heritage rich Indian context. These techniques have been used extensively in the Mehrauli study.

Literature Survey

A critical review of existing reports and government publications and studies of proposed landuse plans by government agencies shows that Urban villages have been considered within the city planning activity and considerable documentation exists. The provision of infrastructure has been top priority. A review of the Village Development plan will be presented later.

Primary Surveys

On the other land due to the lack of readily available information in preparing this report which was the major problem encountered, we have relied mainly on primary surveys for building up information about the historic built stock and the living community. In order to achieve the committed objectives comprehensive and intensive study and analysis of the existing physical and social fabric was required. The findings form the basis for the definition and nature of the heritage zone.

Socio-Economic Survey

The objective of the socio-economic survey was to obtain specific information about the community living in the historic housing stock within the three case study areas namely the area around the Zafar Mahal, a section of the commercial spine including both shops and havelis off the spine and Sohan Burj area. The survey included a study of household characteristics, tenure and ownership patterns, general income and expenditure patterns and existing levels of infrastructure and services available to the people. The survey also discovered the community’s perceptions and awareness of the historicity of the structures they were living in, their attitudes to their locality, as well as their willingness to participate in conservation proposals. An attempt was also made to understand the community’s needs and priorities vis-à-vis conservation proposals. 10 – 20 percent of the households from among those living in the historic housing, which was being studied by the architectural heritage team, were randomly selected for interviews.

Inventory of Built Heritage

Data on architectural heritage based on information from the ASI’s Zafar Hassan’s Volume and INTACH, Delhi chapter were analysed and physical site surveys were conducted on buildings not included in the INTACH records. The buildings included both monuments and residential architecture of the 18th & 19th Century. Colonial, Late Mughal and earlier structures were included to build up a comprehensive information base. The information thus gathered was put down in a way that it could be easily retrieved, sorted and analysed. Also the information is now accessible to several users in the form of a computerised database.

From the methods mentioned above the numerous studies, analyses and findings are enumerated below. The findings have given a clear picture of the urban patterns and local history of Mehrauli a important resource for city planners, scholars and citizens. The findings also pointed the direction for future management which is summed up in the last part of this paper.


In order to delineate the Heritage Zone of Mehrauli and define its extent and characteristics an indepth understanding of the historic development is essential. This was done using the “layers” technique of analysis which constructs a vivid picture of the place and its architecture. A detailed picture of the evolution of the settlement over time demonstrates its exact nature which can be interpreted as – Mehrauli a place with shifting focus, shifting boundaries and shifting status.

History reveals that its status has oscillated from a capital – Lalkot – to a village; the focus of the settlement itself shifted from Rai Pithora area which is now abandoned to the top of the ridge the present location of Mehrauli. The historic complexity increases due to fact that it has sustained itself over such a long period by re-adjusting itself to different situations. This is seen as a positive quality which needs to be conserved.


  1. Natural and Landscape Heritage which constitutes the landform, the natural setting itself, the features within the landscape, heritage trees and orchards, and historic gardens.
  2. Archaeological Heritage include the structures built prior to 16th century. Also included are fragments and structures below ground.
  3. Architectural Heritage includes all the structures that have been listed by the team, found within the village and the DDA park, in all consisting of over 200 in the Zafar Hassan list compiled from Delhi Chapter list. The other list constitutes the historic housing within the settlement of Mehrauli.
  4. Social Heritage refer to the Urs, and the Phool Walon ki Sair festival and other local traditions which can be identified with the place.


For the study of the DDA park apart from the inventory of historic structures, a classical landscape analysis was carried out. From the study of the topography of the land, physiographic features, views, vegetation, existing movement patterns, and spatial qualities revealed that the medieval builders understood the qualities of the site so perfectly that we can learn lessons on architecture and landscape. The site though now deserted was a thriving settlement till the 18th century when the settlement shifted to the top of the ridge with the Late Mughal Patronage. An evaluation of the natural, architectural and archaeological potential of the park suggests that first priority has to be given to the built heritage both above and below ground. Planting has to be complementary and sympathetic to the built form. The planting policy followed by DDA was inappropriate to the integrity of the historic site. Considerable research in historic gardens is required to precede action.


The built heritage of Mehrauli is best understood as a continuing process in “time” (historical time) and “place” (Mehrauli). The act of building in the past was a physical manifestation of the philosophy, ideals, and building traditions. Traditional architecture of Mehrauli exhibits a wide diversity because thousands have participated in the act of building held together by rules set by local cultural beliefs. Two data base files have been developed. The first consists of buildings that require protection officially and number over 200. The second comprises historic houses and there are 170 entries. Information collected included historical, architectural and condition aspects apart from legal.

Further work on these files can generate the exact architectural vocabulary that exists which can form the basis for bye-laws, and new design. This task has to be done by the DDA.


This concept “rediscovery of architecture” is an integral part of the framework of holistic conservation. Its rationale is based on the fact that there exists a lacuna, the task that is of first priority is identification and documentation of architectural heritage. The technique is by inventorying and data bases. This has found out a lot about the architecture which gave us an insight into the habitat of our city ancestors. Buildings belonging to periods of architectural history can be found in Mehrauli.

Many historic gardens and orchards were also identified and few studied to some detail.


The most spectacular “rediscovery” was the Zafar Mahal complex, the home of the Last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. From physical remains and literary sourcesit is possible to reconstruct in our minds the life and times of the Last Mughal. By a close examination of the historic buildings inventories complemented by historical research a clear picture of the settlement in the 19th century Late Mughal urban form and architecture emerged. It is now possible to identify the extent of the Palace Complex and the residential areas occupied by the Imperial Household and the encourage.


The site has potential for tourism on an International and national level; on a city scale it has the potential for becoming an “Archaeological Park” a place to spend a day and rediscover the medieval structures. It can favourite picnic spot for families and school parties. The educational and didactic value of the site is also very high. The place has a favourable environment with its historic ruins and surrounding monuments, it provides a pleasant walk in good weather, with panoramic views and a good breeze on the North and East, due to the elevated position and proximity to the forest below. From the above it can be concluded that the heritage within this zone has a great deal to offer not just to Mehrauli but to the entire city of Delhi. Its heritage can be utilised beneficially but this “wealth” is yet to be tapped.

The many “havelis” or traditional houses when upgraded will find new life but a lot of effort has to be made and management policy required.


People were the emphasis of this report because success in conservation and management of cultural heritage primarily depends on people’s perception towards the past and their built heritage. A positive perception is necessary for people’s participation. For example an excellent information base about the buildings and its efficient communication will go a long way in creating a positive perception. Once the people accept the fact that heritage has positive conotations the rest of the conservation process will be carried out by them.

In order to ascertain community participation as much as possible a decentralised planning organisation has been proposed in the form of CONSERVATION UNIT where the local authority operates from within the settlement of Mehrauli.

The following major issues arose from the study of the community living in the Case Study areas. The most apparent was the high number of refugees occupying the historic structure. Their prosperity in recent times manifests itself by the numerous additions, alterations and demolitions done to their historic dwellings. Recent immigrants from Rajasthan and other adjoining states are considerable, occupy historic units but their dwellings are less consolidated, they are still in the “kucha” state.

The occupancy level of the settlement was very high because people were involved in trades, within the settlement and more so within their own houses. Thus dilution of the occupancy level by the extermination of traditional occupations led to the present economic level, which is really not in a state to preserve or maintain buildings or a way of life around which physical structure of the settlement had evolved. The struggle for basic existence has reduced this town to the present state of physical deterioration.

Ownership & Tenure is complex. Owners, tenants, sub tenants and squatters were observed. Most people in Mehrauli do not seem to possess any legal ownership documents and most ‘owners’ only have a power-of-attorney status never the less insecurity of tenure does not seem to pose a major problem.

Dwelling condition & Level of Services is the process of being slowly upgraded in a piece meal way. Although the residents confessed to a dissatisfaction with their present housing condition, they do not consider poor housing their worst problem. Despite unfavourable environmental conditions, lack of services and facilities, the impression emerges that the community, on the whole, are not willing to consider housing improvements due to lack of resources. Moreover, none of the families, in the course of our conversations, indicated a desire to move out of the settlement.

Repairs & Maintenance in almost all cases, the occupant, irrespective of being owner or tenant, claims to be solely responsible for any ‘improvements’ repairs or maintenance that have been made to the structure. However, tenants do not have the authorization to apply for significant structural changes, hence ‘improvements’ are bound to be small and in almost all cases are not sympathetic to historic building.

To the residents of Mehrauli meeting basic expenditure, employment and the children’s education all take priority over housing. Even then, their housing needs rarely went beyond a need for improved water supply and sewerage. There was no perceived need for larger living space. It is logical to expect that willingness to participate would be highly influenced by HH income and tenant status. Proposals should be accompanied by increase in household income/ employment generation component. One of the positive points noted was that most children studied at the local schools. This gives good scope for reaching the people of Mehrauli through the school children.

The main report further elaborates many of the aspects dealt briefly above. The primary surveys that were conducted, both for the built heritage and assess the social profile, with the sole objective of writing the chapter. The technique inprinciple can be recommended but it has to be further expanded to cover more areas. For example the inventories made is a good base to start comprehensive tasks such as upgradation of the historic built heritage.


Some vital statistics of Mehrauli is briefly summed up. Mehrauli is situated in Zone F-15. It is one of the 111 urbanised villages and functions as rural distribution centre for a cluster of 29 villages. The area of the urban village of Mehrauli today is 185 acres inclusive of all residential, commercial, vacant plots and roads. With an underestimated population of 22,000 (1981 census) the gross density is 118.91 persons per acre, though in reality the density varies from 30 persons per acre to 300 persons per acre. The sex ratio in Mehrauli is 850 females/1000 male as against that of urban Delhi of 760 females/1000 males. The workforce of the town is 26 percent as against that of Delhi (33 percent) and urban India (34.7 percent). The literacy rate in Mehrauli is 53 percent.


Conservation is a process. The time span to fully implement the Heritage Zone plan is about 20 years at the end of which the entire historic Mehrauli will be upgraded, repaired, adapted and repainted.

The strategy envisages that the Delhi Administration and Intach will act as catalysts to generate a series of actions which will lead to a dynamic regeneration of social, cultural and built form of Mehrauli. The holistic integrated conservation concept applied in this study gives emphasis to community needs through development measures because it recognizes that conservation of built heritage has a psychological dimension to it. Therefore it is strongly felt people’s attitude towards past will become positive with improved material conditions which a strong development thrust in the conservation policy can provide. Then the people instead of destroying heritage will see it as a resource. Then the whole cycle will reverse.

A comprehensive list of recommendations was compiled from analysis of village Development Plan, from surveys and findings. It covered a wide range from new legislation for Heritage Zone Declaration, protection measures for historic buildings, identified major tasks, a decentralised unit for implementation, management strategy, the personnel required for its management and methodology. The report took up two action projects which will serve as an example for the community namely i) Reuse of Zafar Mahal and ii) Archaeological Park.

Both these projects will generate a range of other activities and projects. These projects will be managed by the private initiative. But there will be definite roles assigned to the local authority, private interests, and voluntary groups. The local authority must carry out overall schemes of improvement and monitor the process of change.


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It is strongly recommended that the historic area of Mehrauli as identified by the team be declared a Heritage Zone under the Delhi Development Act immediately.

The Mehrauli Heritage Zone attempts to safeguard the remains of the ancient capitals of Lalkot and Rai Pithora, the historic settlement of Mehrauli including all types of historic buildings and the natural setting which constitutes the environment and the landscape. The Heritage Zone is a holistic and integrated concepts, which considers the heritage types above the ground in the form of structure, buildings and landscapes but also the archaeological heritage that lies below the ground and is unseen.


Demolition will not be allowed. It will need a formal consent from the Mehrauli Integrated Conservation Unit.


The Mehrauli Heritage Zone has two distinct parts. The first called –Zone 1 – is confined to the settlement of Mehrauli.

Zone 1 is a live settlement, therefore it will change and modify itself. There will be new development and it must consider the historic fabric and natural land form. The management of this zone will be the responsibility of the local authority and locally managed by the conservation unit. Mixed land use is encouraged but specific land use studies will be necessary before any concrete proposals are made.

The approach to the natural heritage is primarily to maintain the ecological balance and the positive environmental quality of the area. The historic structures within this zone are as important. The heritage trees, historic orchards and gardens also form an integral part. A landscape plan should be prepared after the necessary surveys. This will form the basis of landscape proposals. An accurate plan with contours and all features that exist on the site is immediately required. Landscape planning proposals should emphasise the existing natural features, should be low-key and should use local materials to integrate discreetly into the existing landscape. In addition, the following recommendations should be kept in mind while preparing the landscape plan:


The Heritage Zone of Mehrauli will consist of three distinct concentric zones with definite heritage characteristics. The first of innermost zone will contain predominantly built heritage, the second will contain mostly natural heritage and the third will form a buffer zone. Each of these zones require different techniques for conservation.

ZONE 1: The innermost will take the same shape as the administrative boundary of the village in February 1977 which has been followed by the Village Development Plan. It will include both new areas and old areas.

Specific plans such as Conservation Plan, Management Plan, and Action area plans will have to be prepared take into account conserving developing and upgrading of the existing housing and repair.

New development within the heritage zone should harmonise with the existing environment in design and principle. They will governed by the same set of planning and development controls. There will be guidelines for new buildings, FAR, building lines specified, facade and height specifications within the historic settlement.

ZONE 2: The second zone limits will be bounded by Vasant Kunj and Kishangarh on the south west side and the kikar forest on the north west side. It will include the entire DDA park and extend past the main Gurgaon road till Azim Khan’s Tomb and the Metcalfe Follies and beyond to include the walls of Lalkot and Rai Pithora.

This zone is district and conservation deals predominantly with nature and landscape hence has different techniques. The manner in which this part of the heritage will be conserved will be different. This area already has some degree of protection as it is in the DDA park. This zone will be managed by a special comprehensive Landscape Heritage Manangement Plan

ZONE 3: The third is the buffer zone is beyond the outer limits of Lalkot and Rai Pithora. As this area has already developed it will have minimal controls to protect the existing heritage. Role of the buffer is to provide an apt transitional area from the Heritage Zone to outside.

Recommendation: 4 HERITAGE ZONE PLAN

The heritage zone of Mehrauli will be demarcated - the extent, the core zones and the buffer zone – on a precise recent ariel photogrammatric survey to an appropriate scale so that it becomes the document to follow and is not ambigious like the laldora which can be misinterpreted. This map should show the heritage buildings, trees, contours, water structures, gardens, walls and all that constitute heritage. The survey to be commissioned by DDA to the Remote Sensing Institute at Dehradun immediately.



Heritage plan takes a holistic account of natural, built (including underground heritage) and socio-cultural heritage while keeping in mind that overall regional and planning policies. If overall policies are harmful towards heritage action for its modification initiated.

The Heritage Zone is the tool for protection and regulation of development within Mehruli. The Heritage Zone of Mehrauli has to be seen in the overall context of other Heritage Zones that may be added soon. Delhi being a historic city will comprise of further such Zones safeguarding its ancient capitals, historic villages and other historic complexes. Due to other zones such as for example Ladho Sari ours may have to be modified.

The historic context and significance determine the extent and nature of this zone. The Heritage Zone includes landscape and architecture. It is holistic and integral. A definite Tool for action and maintenance.

Each Heritage Zone will have a written statement covering the following aspects which will guide the implementation: -

Heritage policy – Appropriate legislation back up, various plans to be done, techniques required, mapping required, areas of further action, areas of further research, suggested projects, funding possibilities, trained personnel and organisation, and expected level of survey and documentation:



Mehrauli is rich in architectural heritage. The entire built heritage falling within the Heritage Zone has to be indentified. They include palaces complexes, sarais, various types of houses, historic infrastructure such as streets and water supply / distribution systems and gardens.

Apart from those structures protected by ASI and DA the rest of the building stock must be identified through inventory technique, comprising a modified Zafar Hasan List and the HZ- Heritage Zone – list comprising houses and lesser known buildings. Archaeological areas to be identified with the help of ASI.


This system has been followed by the Mehruli team. This method has been found to be useful. Refer to inventory format and print out.


Documentation of buildings can become tedious. It is strongly suggested to computerize from the beginning. The team has experimented with developing a data base using Dbase III+. The information that has been fed is in 3 categories.

  • One legal type of information
  • Architectural
  • Condition and threats

This can be further enlarged to cover more areas.

Computerised Database for Mehrauli

As a tool for inventory, management and design. A growing facility. Non cumbersome format.

Managing and conserving this architectural heritage has always been the bane of the institutions governing them. Collection and dissemination of data has been the major bottleneck in this conservation system. Even after the data has been collected the lack of appropriate tools has prevented a smooth working process. It is felt that computerization is such an alternative tool designed to create a large database on the monuments in Mehrauli leading to a much more efficient and reliable information system. This database will help the responsible agencies in conservation and maintenance of these sites in a streamlined manner.

Recommendation: 9 Identification of Threatened Buildings: Immediate task is the identification of threatened buildings of Mehrauli in the village and within the park area. This is done with the Dbase again. Encroachments to historic structures also to be removed as part of this exercise.

Recommendation: 10 Documentation of Historic Built Heritage: This will take a long time. All conservation interventions to the physical building fabric should be preceeded by comprehensive documentation using surveys, physical of buildings and measured drawings.

Arial survey. The built environment survey plan should be drawn to a scale of at least 1: 1000 with the following shown open areas, courts, and built up areas must be shown, Accuracy is essential.

Measured and detailed drawings of historic buildings. It is recommended that drawings of historic structures be drawn to a scale of at least 1: 50 So that details of various architectural elements are clearly shown.

Computerisation of information on historic buildings is strongly recommended.


Recommendation: 11 Comprehensive Identification of Natural Heritage – Special areas with landscape significance, high points, view points, heritage trees, archaeological and architectural structures in the landscape, historic gardens and orchards, water structures and other hydrological features.

Recommendation: 12 Special Research for Historic Gardens – There are many gardens both of the Mughal period and of the Colonial period. They are presently in a poor physical condition due to centuries of neglect. It is recommended that serious research is done by interested agencies so that restoration of historic gardens can begin.

Recommendation: 13 Environmental – Quarrying is not to be allowed within the heritage zone as a general principle because it alters the natural land form.

Recommendation: 14 The sewage disposal system followed by the local authority is a hazard to both human and plant life. The positive environmental quality is also greatly affected negatively. It has to be removed.

Recommendation: 15 Ecological – The following must be rectified:

The faulty drainage channels and the pond it ultimately flows to has created silting of large areas and has caused caused erosion which has settled historic foundations.

Deforestation by DDA of keekar areas in order to plant the lawns and exotic plants should be replaced by appropriate planting which respectes the indigenous flora.

Recommendation: 16 Planting Proposals

We propose that shrubs to be removed and tall trees be planted which will expose the monuments and other features now hidden to people. Trees with clear trunk at eye level for clear view and also security measure.

Trees are falling in water logged areas. Water loggin to be removed and trees replanted.

Within Mango orchard after detecting the cause for the degradation and taking curative measures for it, should be accompanied by trees replantation.

Authentic planting within historic zones such as gardens. Within historic areas planting must be authentic. If other wise should not be detrimental to the perceived positive quality or design intent. (Short life and light etc )

Naturally regenerated forest to be encouraged in appropriate zones. Inappropriate planting to be removed if very young.

Regeneration of the orchard.

Recommendation: 17 Location and form of utility structures should consider the effect on significant views.

Hard Landscaping – Railing parapets hedges should not be such that they hide the obvious features. Landscape should be low key, in local materials integrating into the Landscape.


Recommendation: 18 Trails- linking the historic and natural features by generally keeping to the existing footpaths with minimal and necessary modifications. View points that have been identified integrated into the planning process.

The following monuments should be covered Quli Khans tomb, the highviewing point, Jamali Kamali’s tomb and the follies near it, Balban’s tomb, Madhi Masjid, Jharna and its Valley, Hauz Shamsi, Rajon Ki Bainsthe formal gardens and orchards.

Recommendation: 19 [Missing in the original document]

Recommendation: 20 Trail Maps – to be prepared for Mehrauli village. Signage to paths. Appropriate signage and information. Two types of signage required.

Recommendation: 21 Local History Museum –to present local history to tourists as well as local residents required. Location of site to be in the Tehsil of Bahadur Shah.

Recommendation: 22 Signage the information placards for historic buildings and view points. Within Mehrauli identifying important buildings and areas.



We recommend the entire built heritage in Mehrauli Heritage zone to be classified into three grades A B and C.

Grade A means the building is of very high historic or architectural value that should be with ASI. It should be mained and preserved by the ASI. From ZH list the areas and buildings associated with the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar is recommended.

Grade B or have to be controlled by Delhi Administration Department of Archaeology and to be protected by a modified Monuments Act.

Protection type – Preservation: Our findings show that many buildings, complexes and areas of high heritage value which have been identified by this team should come under protection of the Delhi Administrations monument legislation. We do not suggest taking over of property unless as a last step. But we do suggest government aid in its repair and restoration and strict control on its change of use. More detail proposals as per specific case is required. This applies to those buildings that have been graded under categories A and B. in the lists prepared by the team.

Grade C are the lesser known buildings constituting the majority of the historic housing, groups of buildings, streets, complexes and utility structures to be safeguarded by the Heritage zone regulations and controlled by the DDA.

Conservation: Heritage graded C for conservation which means partial protection which allows for a slow and gradual process of regeneration of historic building stock. The Heritage Zone and the guidelines for development control are the instruments for regulating the conservation.

Recommendation: 24 Urban and Rescue archaeology. A team of archaeologists will be necessary to undertake work in a situation such as in Mehrauli when every a building is demolished. They will record and document so that the information exists even if building is lost. It is felt that it is better to have a pragmatic approach.

Recommendation: 25 LAND ACQUSITION

Some properties have already been identified for acquisition. The principle to follow is to acquire the large areas as they are the most threatened. Then the poorly maintained.

The following buildings to be acquired

  • Tehsil of Bahadur Shah
  • Zafar Mahal Palace and subsidiary areas.
  • Sarais Inayatullah and others.
  • The orchard around shamsi

Recommendation: 26 Vegetation which damages monuments should be cleared periodically.


So far Mehrauli has retained a balanced socio-economic and physical structure that identifies it as predominantly a “normal” settlement – that means that it activily sustains a large living community and a distribution centre for a larger area consisting around 29 villages. This is a positive quality that we wish to retain. In order to maintain this balance long term planning measures are required.

The trends in the recent past show the alarming rate of change that is affecting the physical structure and the traditional character of the settlement. For instance the new development around Mehrauli including the DDA housing at Vasant Kunj and the Kutub Enclave have resulted in the traditional commercial pattern in Mehrauli rapidly changing to cater to the new development. If this trend is allowed to continue the types and pattern of shops in Mehrauli will suffer an irreversible change. This will further lead to other changes which will be disastrous to conservation of the existing heritage in the settlement.

Recommendation: 27 The growth of Mehrauli should be contained bothin physical size and population. Over a long period a negative growth to be encouraged. This will rectify the congestion.

Recommendation: 28 Control of commercial Activity: Study for size of shops, criteria for allotment, the balance of shop types required to maintain the balance of the village and its hinterland – region.

Recommendation: 29 Sale and transfer of shops to be linked to the needs of the community in the region. This has to be monitered. If needs of the community are not met, then the alternatives that will emerge will stimulate negative trends such as Kotla Mubarrakpur when the epidemic of commercial use has spread. This will result in complete loss of residential character or with other areas that will develop for the real needs of the community.



There is need for better or more detailed surveys which will give an accurate picture of the space utilization pattern. The team has utilised the technique of survey to accutately ascertain the utilization os spaces. It has proved to be useful. The problem of the Chaumachi tomb was because of inaccuracy. Ond yellow blob (meaning residential in planning language) may break down into a variety of spaces uses such as open and built spaces including a monument or two; the nature of the open spaces may be further identified as private or communal, utility space, work space or income generating or non income generating like gardening. It is recommended that more specific land use studies be conducted at a space use level.

Recommendation: 31 Improper landuse and unauthorised construction: like the allocation of land to be a large scale industry like competent Motor within a designated green area can become a chain reaction. As it is large scale. It brings in many vehicles into the park. The use does not conform and it is not one of the allowable service industry. It serves primarily outsiders. It does not generate employment for local people as the job is very specialised. It is strongly recommended that Competent Motors should be shifted out altogether.

Recommendation: 32 Unauthorised occupation of historic structures should be checked.

Recommendation: 33 Unauthorised new construction in the form of colonies of plots, buildings, additions, encroachments etc. More than 50% of the area of Mehrauli village is covered by unauthorised construction. This had to be totally controlled as they are detrimental to the historic structures.


Recommendation: 34 Task of formulating the guidelines.

This is a second stage task that follows comprehensive identification stage and team recommends that or should be done commensed immediately.

More work is required in this area to give a comprehensive guideline for intervention. This type of task is a logical outcome of a comprehensive inventory evaluation. The types of Interventions will have to be worked out and an order of priority assigned. Then each case will have to be tacked individually with full participation from the owners and occupants. Intervention guidelines emerge from the comprehensive building inventory exercise. The computerised data base will help in drawing up a maintenance strategy for Mehrauli. Detail documentation precedes upgrading, decision on adaptive reuse and architectural vocabulary proposals. Detailed documentation will also aid in assessing the scope and role of archaeology which will be extensive in this case as it is the site of the first Islamic capital and has had a continuous life since then.

Recommendation: 35 Specific Development Control Measures: Byelaws on Bldg line, Courtyard, height control, green areas, mixed use, area under monuments.

Recommendation: 36 FAR – suggested far is 1 but ground coverage is not fixed. In historic buildings the local byelaws will not apply but a more specific guidelines based on a detailed study of the existing historic stock will be formulated.

Recommendation: 37 New Development in Historic Areas – In order to discourage new development in the form of encroachments and at the cost of historic buildings the following recommendations are proposed:

  • New development must consider the historic fabric and existing land form.
  • Within and near important historic buildings only temporary reusable structures can be built for festivals.


Recommendation: 38 Traffic and parking: A comprehensive traffic study is required keeping in mind the following recommendations:

  • Both the widening of the central spine and the new eastern road should not be allowed. Suggested better utilization of the road on the west of Adham Khan and explore the access from Kishan Garh Side.
  • The existing one way traffic system that regulates the busy commercial area must be enforced. Truck servicing timing from 8PM to 8AM. Otherwise a combination of timing and limiting the type/ weight and speed of vehicles to decongest the traffic along the central commercial spine.
  • Parking facility for Urs and other festivals around Dargah and Jahaz Mahal.
  • The main chatterpur road is unsafe and accident prone. It has to be designed to accommodate fast and heavy traffic safely.
  • The road to Competent Motor Workshop should be redesignated and maintained as a pedestrian path.
  • The proposed road along the eastern edge of the settlement should not be allowed.
  • The existing footpath system within the DDA park should be respected and integrated into new development.
  • Serious consideration should be given to one way system within Mehrauli after adequate traffic surveys.


Within the existing planning process as practiced in Delhi there is no place for community to participate in the decision making.

Recommendation: 39 Community participation: Absence of people’s participation in the planning process. It is recommended that a Mehrauli Conservation Unit be set up under the jurisdiction of the DDA. In this way the DDA goes to the local people. The unit could be headed by a committed officer from the DDA. The conservation unit is so structured that it can operate horizontally with other departments of the Delhi Administration and external voluntary organizations such as Intach and pressure groups such as CSD. It can vertically act with participation from the people at one end and have access to the top people at the other end. Sub units such as Infrastructure and archaeological sub- Unit can be formed for specific tasks.

Recommendation: 40 Comprehensive socio economic profile obtained through surveys in order to assess genuine community needs. This task is immediate and major and should be done by DDA.

Recommendation: 41 Employment Generation through Heritage maintenance and conservation must be seriously examined.

Recommendation: 42 Education sub Unit – It is recommended that an education unit be set up as part of the Mehrauli Integrated Conservation Unit to co-ordinate these programmes. Take advantage of the fact that all the students study in the local schools. Integrate local heritage knowledge into the community. Contact the Education Deptt of Delhi Administration to work out school heritage projects. Young INTACH, CSD and CCRT to execute the programmes has to be worked out. Communication of information and knowledge obtained to the community through exhibitions and workshops.



A Heritage Zone such as MHZ requires an organizational setup to manage, monitor and advise the people. This deals with operational, organizational, institutional and other support systems required for the conservation of the heritage zone. The following recommendations are major and initiated immediately.

Recommendation: 43 Personnel in the Integrated Conservation Unit. A multi-disciplinary team is required consisting of specialised persons in Conservation (co-ordinator), human settlements, landscape, archaeology and computer applicatons. This unit will be solely in charge of research and implementation both new and adaptive reuse. Local recruits will be encouraged. Community participation in the form of resource persons and craft persons an essential feature. This unit is supported by two technical teams, the first whose sole task is the upgradation of the historic building stock by the provision of infrastructure.

Recommendation: 44 – Task of the Integrated Conservation Unit

Areas to research

  • Tasks
  • Action work
  • Organizes public participation
  • Training and worshops for special tasks.
  • Coordinate with pressure groups and other
  • Deptts of Delhi Administration such as Tourism and Education.

Recommendation: 45 Historic Building Bank – This is an important requirement which must be at once commenced. Historic materials at subsidized cost- stone and lime. Bank has first option to buy or barter concept. A suitable existing building should be located for this.

Recommendation: 46 Building Resource Centre – The existing built stock as per the team’s finding demonstrate a wide variety in building techniques, use of materials, crafts techniques. These have to be built up in the form of know how and further training conducted. Only then will conservation be reality. Resource persons identified.

Recommendation: 47 Identification of Resource people

Recommendation: 48 Role of voluntary groups – The role of voluntary groups is especially required in dealing with inter departmental matters. The conservation unit success depends on the active enthusiasm many of the other departments od Delhi Administration. The voluntary organisation such as Intach can fill this role of bringing together people and department. Another area for is communication and increasing awareness to heritage within zone. The possibility of undertaking actual project work is also a possibility.


Recommendation: 49 Reinstating of Zafar Mahal

Today Zafar Mahal is a protected building and it is not possible to protect with watch men. Instead giving it a agency and an appropriate use will benefit both the community and the building. It is strongly felt that by executing this project (good quality work) will made conservation psychologically more acceptable to the people. The project to reinstate Zafar Mahal Complex envisage’s Naika a women’s cooperative set up by Late Mrs. Kamala Devi Chattopadya within its precinct. This is major and should start immediately

Recommendation: 50 Archaeological Park

The study of the DDA park suggests itself to be developed as an Archaeological Park. The existence of so many structures of heritage importance and the fact it was the site of one of the capital of Delhi,

Recommendation: 51 The Anang Tal should be excavated by the ASI.


There are two types of techniques one concerning heritage and those concerning people.

  • Pre-requsite for conservation
    • an arial survey.
    • A clear and specific scale survey drawing of the built up area 1: 500 with open areas, courts and built up areas shown clearly and accurately.
    • A proper contour survey and natural heritage should be integrated into the proposal.
  • Identification
    • Comprehensive Identification and the necessary mapping and acomprehensive socio- economic profile
    • Then the following tasks emerge - Areas of further research
    • Detailed documentation
    • Assessment of historic building stock
  • Analysis Stage
    • ‘Layers’ –technique for historic dev of city.
    • The method involves keeping place as a constant and time and built heritage examined. This is more required in a plural society situation such as ours where the layers become heterogenous.
    • Generation of Architectural Vocabulary.
  • Specific recommendation stage / decision making stage
    • Management plan
    • Building maintenance strategy and plan.
    • Upgradation and Rehabilitation
    • Re use of existing building.
    • Comprehensive Landscape Plan
    • Heritage Zone plan

Recommendation: 53 Rehabilitation of the Existing Historic Housing Stock –should be fitted in with the national housing policy. At the moment no institution deals with the rehabilitation of the existing housing stock. Several institutions could be identified for this purpose, the lowest level of which could be the Mehrauli Integrated Conservation Unit dealing with local issues pertaining to rehabilitation. It could be responsible for the implementation and overall supervision, the lowering of local bye-laws and standards if necessary and provide legal, technical and organizational assistance. Suggested technique Inventory and data base.


Recommendation that concerns government policies and the whole of Delhi which effect Mehrauli adversely.


In order to avoid duplication it is strongly recommended that the DDA / team working on the Heritage zone should get access to official information from Census of India and Survey of India. their info. Lack of access to official information.

Recommendation: 55 Sub division of plots should be curtailed so that historic units can retain their identity in form and dimension. In situations where the ownerships / tenancies are too complicated plot reconstitution should be attempted.

Recommendation: 56 Immediate Identificatin of Vacant Areas

Recommendation: 57 OWNERSHIP STATUS

Correct ownership status must be established immediately. A clear record of the types of ownership must be procured from the revenue officials. It is recommended that the tehsil and the patwari who have the authority to do so should complete this task immediately. The local patwari should be instructed to do this immediately.

Recommendation: 58 OCCUPANCY STATUS

Accurate occupancy status is required to be obtained and recorded. Conservation measures that are beneficial to the building stock regardless to the complexity caused by the ownerships.

Recommendation: 59 Plan showing the findings of recos 51-54 ON PLAN THE FOLLOWING SHOULD BE CLEARLY SHOWN


These are shortcomings of the DDA implementation strategy. Our survey findings show that infrastructure do not reach the people, if they do the quality is poor. Provision of Infrastructure: shortage of water makes this the first priority. It is recommended that distribution outlets and timings be increased to supply an adequate quantity of water for the community. In addition to this, the possibility of reusing old water supply and distribution systems such as baolis and wells should be further examined.

Recommendation: 61 Poor sewage is affecting both historic structures and environment. It is recommended that the quality of sewerage should be upgraded as per the urban standards of the rest of Delhi. Proper toilets do not exist in most of the dwellings or they exist but are not connected to the central sewerage system.

Recommendation: 62 Provision of Amenity at individual houselevel. It is recommended that a Infrastructure Unit be set up as part of the Mehrauli Integrated Conservation Unit to locate, design and toilets and other individual facilities.


The report “Integrated Conservation of Mehrauli Heritage Zone” was submitted in the beginning of 1990. The report has been accepted by the Delhi Administration and DDA. The DDA is incharge of implementing the proposals. The Delhi Administration has reinforced its approval by sanctioning a sum of 30 lakhs total to DDA to appoint new personnel and interprete the recommendations in beauraucratic language. Since the DDA has dispensed with the Mehrauli project consultatant.

In May 1990 during the tenure of the LG Air Marshall Arjan Singh, the DDA was to complete its task. Till today it has not done so – at least not discussed in the open. The DDA does hold regular meetings for sanctioning building plans in Mehrauli, a task that it takes seriously. Unfortunately it uses the same methods as before – set backs etc.

One thing the Mehrauli Report has clearly brought out is that many of the planning methods currently in use have become obsolete. But the report has suggested new ways and methods in some cases and demonstrated new techniques in most cases – example inventories.

No concrete action has yet emerged. The much required Heritage Zone legislation has also not made any progress. The unauthorised development has increased to such an extent that it is beyond the capability of DDA to control. Even the DDA park is being occupied. The situation is grim.

Follow up based on the initiative of the project consultant and CSD since the submission of report is as follows:

  1. Walks conducted through Mehrauli continued. New walks introduced in which new information is communicated. The public who participate appreciated the rediscovered areas.
  2. Design project: Reinstation of Zafar Mahal
  3. Design project: Higher Secondary School in Mehrauli along the main spine.
  4. Urban Studies Workshop based on Mehrauli conducted for school teachers. The aim of this project was towards the introduction of urban studies and local history into school curriculum.
  5. A workbook on Mehrauli for school children is currently under preparation.

It is hoped that concrete steps will be taken by the authorities. Otherwise the work put in by the Mehrauli Team – a labour of love – will be wasted.