Conservation of Mehrauli Heritage Area

May 2014
Presented by: 
Mehrauli, New Delhi

If the urban fabric within which the historic monuments are located is in a state of blight and disrepair, we cannot expect the inhabitants to appreciate the heritage value of the monuments and care for them.

It therefore becomes necessary to repair the urban fabric simultaneously with the repair of historic buildings in Mehrauli.

There has been for some time a requirement for situating heritage conservation work, especially that relating to monuments in urban areas, effectively within the community where such monuments are sited and enveloped by the growing urban fabric. Such work ideally is to be so directed that the local community is the primary driver of the efforts on the ground, thus becoming in due course the prime mover for maintenance and conservation of the assets so created.

Such an approach has been discussed in conservation circles for long, but we have hardly any examples in execution. The purpose of the present proposal is to go beyond the rhetoric and demonstrate how such an approach can be translated into ground reality such that others can learn from this demonstration. This will necessitate research into first principles across a number of disciplines from architecture to social sciences.

Mehrauli settlement as well as the surrounding area is rich with historic monuments and archeological remains. The Qutab Minar, located adjacent to the settlement is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts visitors from all over the world. Yet Mehrauli is also a growing and a dense urban precinct located within electoral ward number 169 of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The dynamics of urban growth conflict with the imperatives of preserving our historic legacy, and the contradictions created by the seemingly opposing tendencies give rise to physical dysfunction and erosion of heritage values.