Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today pitched for developing a heritage walk in Chandni Chowk, a densely populated market which has been around for more than three centuries. Mahajan said the government and the people should come together to restore the “old splendour” of Chandni Chowk. The market was once divided by canals to reflect the moonlight, and merchants from Turkey, China and even Holland visited it, according to the Delhi Tourism department website. Chandni Chowk was among the biggest Indian markets. Citing the restoration of ‘Rajwada’ in her constituency Indore, Mahajan said a heritage walk should be developed in Chandni Chowk. “The old splendour of Chandni Chowk could be restored. We can definitely think of developing a heritage walk there with the help of people and the government,” she said at an event. Mahajan and the section chief and programme specialist for culture at the UNESCO’s New Delhi office, Moe Chiba, also presented a citation to Union minister Vijay Goel and his son Siddhant for the restoration of the 19th-century Dharampura Haveli in Chandni Chowk.
The haveli, painstakingly restored over six years, has earned a special mention in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation this year. The Lok Sabha speaker said the initiative could be replicated at many other places across the country. She also said that with the help of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), work has started on maintaining and preserving the Parliament Building. Tourism Minister K J Alphons too lauded the restoration of Dharampura Haveli and added that “Goel has shown how we can showcase our heritage to the world. It’s a great example for the people to come forward. We have started ‘adopt a heritage’ scheme’ and 14 sites have been given for restoration.”
He urged Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who was present at the event, to make the monuments “alive” by allowing them to be kept open beyond 5pm and hold cultural and recreational activities there. In a country like India, having diverse heritage, its not possible that each heritage site has to be dependent on government support, Moe Chiba said. The restoration of Dharampura Haveli was a “totally private” initiative to restore it to its old splendour with high-quality craftsmanship and use of traditional construction material to preserve its Mughal era architecture, she added.