N-7/C SAKET, NEW DELHI 110 017 PHONE:668118


Dr. Ron Cooksey American Parks Service Washington D.C.

Subject: Proposal for an “ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK” for Delhi

Dear Sir,

We in the Conservation Society Delhi are constantly involved as a pressure Group in saving the built Environment of Delhi. As we have professionals from various fields as our members we are able to organize and make ourselves felt in many different ways – as professionals and researchers, as fighters and as citizen advisors to decision makers. We have been successful at times and we have also seen defeat. The problem has been the same which is – as Heritage Conservation is a new field and the general Indian climate today is not “truly” sympathetic to its past – primarily due to lack of knowledge about built environment. This problem puts us into the challenging situation of having to show and demonstrate in concrete terms what we believe. It is in this endeavour that we are requesting the help of the American Parks Service for a specific project “The Archaeological Park at Mehrauli”.

In principle the idea of the Archaeological Park has already been accepted by the DDA. But the chronic problem as mentioned before – as having to demonstrate in real terms ideas and convictions is the issue that makes us look for support from outside. The “realization phase” of the project is where we need support from APS so that we will be able to produce – like a magician: - to Delhi Administration a good quality professional job. But the fact that there is a “REALISATION PHASE”, an invisible phase that precedes the end product and that it is crucial is yet to be understood as priority issue in our city’s climate. And that such a project needs intense sustained effort apart from ability, tenacity, commitment and lots of hard work, a multidisciplinary team efforts, financial support and TIME to do a thorough job before one can obtain the end project. We in CSD intend to realize the tremendous potential of this historic part of Delhi and demonstrate to the people of Delhi and its decisionmakers by creating an “Archaeological Park” on paper and we believe the APS with there expertise can help us in realising the Archaeological Park and making it a reality.

Once the project on paper is complete we do not envisage any problem in its acceptence and encouragement by the Governmental Agencies because of the appropriateness of the concept to the site. Also such a park is not amiss in a historic city like Delhi.

Some Conservation Society Delhi members were involved in the preparation of a report on Mehrauli called “Integrated Conservation of Mehraul Heritage Zone” prepared in 1989 under the project directorship of Ms Nalini Thakur a Founder member of Conservation society Delhi. The conceptual format of the report applies the theoretical holistic framework developed by N. Thakur for the Indian context. This can be recognised by the keywords and concepts such as – Integrated conservation, holistic, heritage zone, decentralised organisation, “Rediscovery of Indian Architecture”, importance of Interpretation and communication, only to demo projects with strong community bias.

The study was sponsered by Delhi Chapter Intach and funded by the local authority D.D.A (Delhi Development Authority) and Intach. The money was barely enough to meet the expenses and pay a team of young professionals consisting of two architects, two landscape architects and a human settlements expert who were employed for three months to do surveys and write up the findings.

The “Integrated Conservation of Mehrauli Heritage Zone” report was submitted last year and has been accepted by the Delhi Administration and the DDA is in charge of implementing the management of the Heritage zone of Mehrauli. The delhi Administration has reinforced its approval by sanctioning a sum of up to 30 lakhs to strengthen its organisation by appointing people and working in this area.

The problem results with the total acceptance of the report on Mehrauli and the subsequent financial support. Since then the DDA has dispensed with the conservation consultant and proceeding with “implementing” the recommendations of the report. But what is being done in the name of implementing is totally contradictory to the what was intended by the consultant. Infact so much precious historic fabric is being destroyed in the process that is forcing us to bring another agency such as the park service to help us (The Delhi Conservation Society) to demonstrate to implement in a sensitive way the proposal for the Archaeological Park.

One two projects are suggested in the report out which one is a proposal for an Archaeological Park within zone 2 of the proposed Heritage Zone of Mehrauli, which mainly comprises the 8th to 12th Century deserted capitals of Delhi Lalkot and Qila Rai Pithora. Unfortunately in the name of following the recommendation work has already commenced. Another negative and dangerous trend this project has started is the grabbing of the park land which belongs to Delhi Administration unofficially aided by officials. This is all very tragic for the project consultant and the Delhi conservation Society. The only way the park can be saved if it is intervened with and given back to the people of Delhi as an Archaeological park which has long term benefits and relevant to all.

The Conservation Society can take the initiative and make a Master plan with locan funding. Locally we can organise a core group from among CSD itself. Provided we can raise some money we can make a comprehensive project proposal with drawings and a written statement. The summer vacation of ’92 can be utilised for this project. This can be discussed with a group from Park Service.

The special expertise envisaged from APS can be summed as follows:

  • Archaeologist with specialisation in Medieval Indian Archaeology with experience in urban / surface archaeology.
  • Expert to help with latest techniques in interpretive communicatin in visitor facilities and presentation of historic structures.
  • Site management specialist. It would be useful to be able to explore the area of site maintenance and management from the vast experience of APS in this field.
  • Economist A very special kind of economist with experience in quantifying impact the park will have on the overall economic development of the region interms of new and diverse employment trends.
  • Technical restoration expertise. Certainly there is place for APS in the restoration of some of the historic structures in the park.
  • Museum Expert. There will be two museums as part of the visitors facilities, one on 18th and 19th century Late Mughal period and another Early Islamic. A visitor centre with some display is another requirement.

After discussions and intergrating the expertise provided by the APS a revised action plan will be prepared by the Core Group. This can be considered for implementation.

We are aware of the work done by APS in India and informed about their work in US. We know that APS in ideal suited for our project because they do this kind of work in their own country competent and good quality. We are also impressed by the motivation and intensity exhibited by some of the members who have worked on other projects. It would be a great opportunity to be able to dialogue and discuss with APS members as we attempt to realize this project. In this project the role of APS is different from that of the projects commissioned by the Tourism Ministry. In India there is need for special and specific expertise which is not easily available locally and we are humbly requesting the APS to help us with those areas only. In certain areas of specialisation – archaeologist to do only surface archaeologoy. We would later like a sites interpretation expert and museum expert. So

In order to explain the project are enclosed with this letter two separate enclosures. The first is a summary of the Mehrauli Report and the second a brief project proposal.

Yours Sincerely

Nalini Thakur
Secretary, Conservation Society Delhi