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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Unequivocal Call: Stop The Vandalism

Unequivocal call: Stop the vandalism

TNN | Jul 28, 2012, 05.03AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The Sardar Vallabhbhai Memorial Society by vandalizing and defacing Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's 400-year-old palace in Shahibaug in the name of renovation has only hurt Ahmedabad's chances of achieving world heritage city status. Mughal heritage forms an essential part of the city's 600 year history of Ahmedabad and the palace is one of the city's last surviving Mughal structures.

City's historians and conservation architects expressed unequivocal outrage over the insensitivity of the trust. Ironically, neither the state Archaeology department, Archealogical Survey of India (ASI) nor the latest heritage building inventory of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)'s has the palace on its list of protected structures. The two-storeyed palace has a grand darbar hall, styled like a typical Mughal palace with adjacent octagonal rooms on each side. The gardens are also reminiscent of Mughal gardens in Delhi and Agra.

Architect and founder of CEPT university B V Doshi says," It does not matter if the palace is not among the country's protected buildings; it is still a heritage site. "Six years ago, we were involved in setting up the museum there. We did an extensive study of the palace and proposed a major conservation plan to the palace's identity. The gardens and waterbody which connects to Sabarmati were also considered in our study. But things didn't work out. The place should be treated as a protected site and this careless work be stopped immediately."

"There has to be a set of guildelines before anyone embarks on such 'renovation' activity. The minutest of details in architecture should be considered while framing those guidelines," says Manvita Baradi, architect-urban planner and convenor of Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Gujarat.

The construction continuing unabashedly, will lead to more historic loss with each passing day. "It is shameful. At a time when Ahmedabad is aiming for world prestige, how can such a horrible example be set? The renovation should follow the norms of preservation or be stopped immediately. Shah Jahan's palace is one of the highlights of our city. It tells the story of how a young prince started his architectural endeavors here and how he went on to build one of the most magnificent monuments in the world. What kind of sensibility makes these people blind to such amazing history?" says Umang Hutheesing, scion of one of the city's most well known families.

According to Hemang Desai, a heritage enthusiast, Gujarati architecture had so impressed the Mughals that the Gujarati forms find a prominent place in the architecture of Akbar's capital, Fatehpur Sikri as well as in Shah Jahan's palace.

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