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BJP leader ‘offers' Mughal-style heritage park to Old Delhi-ites, wins opposition praise

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* 
The moment one enters the 9,000 meters odd, Charti Lal Heritage Park between the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, it gives one the feeling of being inside the Diwan-e-Aam of a Mughal Emperor.
Mughal ambience with rich carvings in red stones, the 12-door, Baradari, pavilion like the one at Diwan-e-Khas or the Agra Fort with a chandelier, a large number of chhatris (smaller dome-like umbrellas), lit at night with candlelight like lamps, the iron grills, the heritage doors takes one back into the Mughal era of. Mughal paintings too, will be inscribed at the walls around the entrance.
Right at the entry and of course, all over inside, one is reminded of the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens of the Netherlands owing to their inimitable picturesque quality! The variety of flowers include Gardenia, Orchid, Marigold, Carnation, Daisy, Alstromeria, Petunia, Shrubberies, Croton and Calla Lily.
Ironically, it is Vijay Goel, a former minister and three-time MP, once also known as the “Ideas Man” of the BJP, who came up with the idea and accomplishment of a heritage park in the name of his father, Charti Lal Goel, a senior RSS think tank, mayor of Delhi’s first Municipal Corporation and the first speaker of Delhi Legislative Assembly.
Right between the world heritage site, Mughal seat of Indian rule for more than two centuries, that is, the Red Fort and another landmark of the same era, the Shahjahani Jama Masjid, Charti Lal Goel Heritage Park, aligns the two with the modern-day designer state of the art heritage park, now, one of the few green lungs of the archaic old Delhi.
The park is considered a blessing not only for the local community but the connoisseurs of heritage from all walks of life and nooks and crannies of the world. At this side, one comes across one or the other culture and heritage-based programme and talk. Besides, old Delhi’s inimitable food and handicrafts items too will be made available and a plan is underway for the same.
Charti Lal Heritage Park was inaugurated by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India recently. Appreciating it, Kovind termed the heritage park as a mini-Mughal Garden like the one at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Some politicians across the party lines, like Karan Singh, KTS Tulsi, Subramaniam Swami, Rupa Ganguly, Swapan Das Gupta too have supported the transformation.
A round of the park, with room for future stream waterways, reminds about the hard work done by Goel and his team for the last five years to be accomplished in the present shape. The entire structure of the park, though totally historic but prepared with the latest designer and state of the art unique combination of the modern and antique techniques of lighting and art, plus the combination of plush grassy grounds and multiple flowerbeds of bright and brilliant hue, reminds one of the monuments in Agra.
According to its architect Kapil Aggarwal, this cultural hub is a combination of the Classical and the Modern with Renaissance elements in highly original way with its extraordinarily refined red sandstone work. In terms of its seating capacity and the massive stage, all seem to be the representation of a remarkable example of a combination of major styles as in Rome’s Colosseum Amphitheatre.
Set amidst the Sylvan green with fresh and glossy grass, this is just an oasis in the desert of Purani Dilli. “My vision and mission are to give old Delhi, its much deserved tag of heritage city! I call it, God’s Spot”, opined Goel. Developed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, this heritage is part of his exploits.
In the past he worked to preserve Dellhi’s heritage and composite culture by conducting cultural events like, Chaudhvin ka Chaand, Phoolon ka Utsav, Purani Dilli ka Khana, Dharampura Haveli, besides many other events, over the years. Of course, the white marble bust of Charti Lal Goel, reminds one and all the way one should never forget the contribution of one’s elders.
The preserver also restored a 200-year-old haveli, named Haveli Dharampura in Chandni Chowk area, with his son Siddhanth, that had also won the prestigious UNESCO Asia-Pacific 2017 Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Heritage preservation being Vijay’s watchword, whether he’s in power or not, has still been his mission. The preservation of 551 havelis of which, 526, are just in Chandni Chowk, is a work at hand. People of Chandni Chowk said that they missed his weekly visits at the Town hall crossing to redress the people’s problems and the cultural festivals conducted by him.
His quality, according to Mohd Shahid, a resident of Bara Hindu Rao, has been that he doesn’t believe in working nearing the elections but mainly in between the two elections, when politicians usually disappear after winning. Even today, he is equally popular among all sections in the area that he had represented.
When asked, what implored him to come up with this project between Red Fort and Jama Masjid, pat came his reply, “I believe that history is written on each and every brick of old Delhi and since I have represented this area in the Parliament a couple of times, still my heart and soul, are into it.”
While questioned about the problem of a claustrophobic and snail-paced traffic and illegal encroachments, around the monument, he stated that in the second phase of the uplift of the heritage park, not only that the encroachments will be removed but the traffic management too will be taken care of in a scientific manner such that there are no traffic hazards at all.
In the days to come, he hopes, the park will be a major attraction for the Indian and foreign tourists owing to its geographical setting in the heart of the walled city of Delhi.
---
*Former chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, social activist and community worker

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