City anchor: ASI to nurse monument from Delhi Sultanate back to shape
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The Sultan Ghari tomb, one of the oldest monuments in the Capital, has developed cracks and a tilt which has made portions of the ornate gateway bulge out.
To put it back to shape, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will soon start an extensive conservation project on the monument built in 1231 by Iltutmish, the Mamluk dynasty ruler, over the remains of his eldest son and heir-apparent, prince Nasiruddin Mahmud.
Located 500 metres from housing societies in Vasant Kunj, the Sultan Ghari site also has tombs of two other sons of Iltutmish — Ruknuddin Firoz Shah and Muizzuddin Bahram Shah — a mosque and a well that dates back to the Tughlaq-era.
The ASI's Delhi circle superintending archaeologist D N Dimri said: "Some cracks have developed in the main gate that leads to the tomb. The gateway has tilted and portions of the stone structure are bulging out." A team of ASI officials recently inspected the site, he said.
Adorned with inscriptions on marble in the Naskh script, the doorway mentions the construction date, details of the person buried there and information on Iltutmish, ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.
The gateway covers a flight of stairs leading to a raised courtyard where the octagonal tomb can be accessed by another set of steps towards the southern side.
The courtyard is flanked by colonnades in the north and west. The wall towards the west has a prayer niche or "mihrab" — intrinsically embellished with Naskh characters.
Next to the tomb stands a dome-shaped pavilion or "chhattri" which, according to the World Monument Fund created by INTACH, dates back to the Tughlaq period. Dimri said the stone floor of the structure has been damaged.
He said the entire conservation project would be "very challenging" because extensive work would be required to fix every detail.
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