Library that houses ASI

In Name only

Library that houses ASI

Located in the grounds of Ambedkar University, near the GPO, Kashmere Gate is the erstwhile Dara Shikoh Library, the building of which now houses the Department of Archaeology, Delhi Administration.

The library was built by Shah Jahan’s intellectual son and chosen successor, Dara Shikoh.
Dara Shikoh, known for his liberal ideas and who translated the Upanishads into Persian, was murdered by his brother Aurangzeb in 1659 – in the fight for supremacy of the throne.
His property along with this library passed through several hands before the British finally took it from the Marathas in 1803.

Dara Shikoh Library was later used as a residency by Sir David Ochterlony, the first British Resident of Delhi.

Sir Ochterlony renovated the original building of the library, added pillars to the front facade to form a verandah to the older structure.

The present building, experts say, is but one of the rooms used by Dara Shikoh. At a careful glance, one can differentiate between the architectural Mughal designs which still exist in the interior of the building and the British styles on the exterior of the building.

The variations in architecture also occur because the building was damaged to a great extent during India’s first war of Independence in 1857. The priceless collection of books and documents of the Mughal era were burned down by the British.

However, one can still imagine the grandeur and opulence in which the first British Resident lived in Delhi, by just looking at the majestic imposing building.

The building also characterised the nature of its first occupant, Sir Ochterlony. He was one of the only British officers who fully adopted the Mughal culture, customs, traditions and lifestyle.

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