ASI gets down to work on saving the three-domed structure in Hauz Khas

Cracks have developed in the building on the madrasa gardens, ASI says pillars damaged, stone blocks missing

After a range of conservation work during the Commonwealth Games 2010, monuments in the Hauz Khas area will undergo further renovation by the Archaeological Survey of India over the next few months.

The Hauz Khas complex is dotted with several 13th century structures, and ASI officials have been drawing an estimate for work on the three-domed building on the madrasa gardens.

"A lot of work needs to be done on the domes of the structure as well as other portions. The plaster that was on the dome is pulverised and some stone blocks have come out," Superintending Archaeologist, ASI (Delhi circle), D N Dimri said.

Comprising a long and colonnaded hall stretching from north to the south, which measures 24.7 metres, the building has an unusual T-shape. Another section has an eight-metre projection from the centre towards the west. Made mostly of hard quartzite, which is very difficult to carve, the building has minimal decoration. Apart from carvings on the capitals of the pillars, some remnants of decoration can be seen on the plastered tombs — finials, kanguras and calligraphy in incised plaster.

Owing to wear and tear due to weather, water seepage and damage due to human actions, cracks have developed in the building, officials said. "There were plants growing on the structure and this caused severe damage. While we have been able to cut the plants, the roots have led to cracks," an ASI official working at the site said.

Elaborating on the renovation work, ASI's Conservation Assistant Ajay Kumar said, "Several stones from the eaves of the building are missing and there are at least four pillars that have been damaged and cracks can be seen on them. These pillars need to be replaced and blocks of stones put in place of the missing ones."

Even though a major portion of the pathway in the complex was re-constructed during the Commonwealth Games, work on a section of floor, close to the three-domed structure, is still to be completed.

The function of the buildings is not known. According to experts, it was a tomb and had a number of graves. But an INTACH publication said no traces of graves are visible at the site now. On the basis of the shape and size of the building, it could have also been a meeting place or an assembly hall for large gatherings.

After the building fell into disuse, following the decline of the Tughlaq dynasty, villagers moved in here, a plaque at the site said.

Much-needed facelift

THE STRUCTURE

T-shaped building has long, colonnaded hall measuring 24.7 metres

Made mostly of hard quartzite, the building has minimal decoration

Remnants of decoration can be seen on the plastered tombs

THE DAMAGE

Wear and tear due to weather, water seepage, damage due to human actions led to cracks

Roots of plants weaken walls

Stones fall out, leaving gaps in eaves of the building

THE USE

The function of the buildings is not known, but some experts say it was a tomb and contained many graves

INTACH publication says no traces of graves are visible at the site now

Building could have been a meeting place or an assembly hall

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