For the last six months, my daily commute has been from Noida to Gurgaon and back for work. In the initial month, I tried all various route options to reduce time or atleast keep moving instead of being stranded on traffic-jammed road. I finally decided on a route that goes via Lutyens Delhi for a part of commute.
What I like about this part of Delhi would be a subject for another blog, but what pains me while travelling on this stretch is the abject horrific modifications done to these low-rise palatial bungalows.
The original bungalows are set in huge grounds, with trees lining the boundaries; the houses are of different sizes on different roads. While the white facade has been maintained mostly by all residences, the changes to these heritage properties are a big eyesore.
The boundary walls have been reinforced by either a green-coloured bamboo for low-risk category politicians, and by ugly asbestos look-alike sheets for high-security ministers. Ugly yellow barricades are placed strategically at various places to block traffic during VIP movements.
The guard rooms which have been constructed at the entrances are also a make-shift arrangements, some of these structures are as huge as a big waiting rooms. Additional rooms have been added to the erstwhile structures and no effort has been made to match the construction to the originals. Cow-sheds, waiting areas, rooms for staff have also been added with no regards to maintain the aesthetics of the buildings.
While it is necessary to cater to growing demands of connectivity, electricity and water, what is seen from the roads are ugly water tanks, solar panels with their drums and various antennas – enough to make one cringe. Sometimes these structures jostle for space with still-existent but non-working chimneys of the original houses. And what would have happened to the interiors is anyone’s guess.
The additions and deletions on these properties happen everytime the ownership changes, and the modifications are carried out as per the whims and fancies of the new owners resulting in mish-mash of the original structure over a period of time.
While at times there have been noises to raze this part of Lutyens Delhi and create multi-storied structures to house the increasing work force of the nation’s governing population, it is also important to preserve the living history of the city, one that remains standing.
What is probably needed is a body consisting of architects, historians, interior designers who are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these residential buildings, build and modify as per the requirements but essentially keep the original aesthetics of the Lutyens Delhi – a past that needs to be preserved in the present for the future generations.