Replicating global heritage locally

Replicating global heritage locally

Between the eighth and the 10th century, people of Mayan civilisation constructed the city of Labna, in the Puuc Hills region of the Yucatan Peninsula, presently the South Western region of Mexico.

The most defining feature of this ancient City was its famous arch. Though a portion of it has crumbled but the arch still exists. In fact, it has made it as a UNESCO Heritage site today. 

By now, you may be wondering what does the Arch have to do with our country and especially Delhi?

Historically, the two nations have evolved differently but today both India and Mexico are contributing to each other’s development. And to strengthen the ties, the National Capital was chosen as the place to establish the replica of this Arch of Labna.  And, for this nothing could have been better than Garden of Five Senses.

Interestingly, it is the first replica of Labna's Arch anywhere in the world.
The Arch is part of a passageway connecting two plazas or courtyards, separating the living quarters of priests, soldiers and nobles. Like other arches at Mayan sites, the original Labna’s Arch was an entrance to the city with several sacbes (ancient roads) leading up to it.

The corbelled arch at Labna is famous for being one of the most intricately decorated monuments of the ancient Maya. Its detailed façade with recurring geometric motifs make it a strong example of Puuc architecture, specific to Mesoamerican civilisation. Its facade is decorated with mouldings, pillars and niches. Its corners display masques representing Chaac, the God of Rain.

Both sides are decorated, one with deep-relief spirals and checkerboard patterns (associated with clouds and rain) and the other with thatched Maya huts. The doors of the huts were used as niches, probably to display important figures, with the red and blue paint still visible. Remarkably, only the Arch’s stairs and the roof comb required significant restoration. The rest has stood, as is, for over 1,000 years.

To create a replica of the historical site was not an easy task. This project was conceived almost a decade ago by Julio Faesler, former Ambassador of Mexico to India and materialised through the support of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, INTACH and Delhi Tourism & Transportation and Development Corporation (DTTDC).

Drawings were sent by an agency in Mexico, equivalent to the Archaeological Survey of India and sandstone from Gwalior was used for the construction.