Red Fort arched cell restored to its original form

 The grandeur of the arched cells of Chatta Bazar at Red Fort is being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India, Delhi Circle.

The Chatta Bazar, also known as the Meena Bazar, is a two-storey arcade. During the Mughal period, shops at the bazaar catered to the shopping tastes of women. Currently, shops on both sides of the Chatta Bazar sell souvenirs, clothes, carpets and jewellery among other items.

Of the 32 arched cells on the first floor at the entrance of the Red Fort, the ASI has carried out restoration work on one cell.

“We could undertake restoration work of this cell as no original layer could be traced in this cell. All the other cells have traces of original layers in them, which need to be protected,” said Vasant Kumar Swarankar, chief superintending archaeologist.

During the British period, soldiers occupied the arched cells on the first floor.
“When the cells were occupied, toilet blocks were built so that these could be used as rooms. We did away with toilet blocks from all the cells. Also, we opened the cells from outside,” Swarankar added.

One particular cell was recreated according to the existing documents and photographs of the original cells.

It has taken the ASI over a month to restore the cell to its original form.

“We have used a combination of lime, surkhi, belgiri, gur, jute and husk among other material to recreate the cell. The original cells were made of the same raw material. For the decorative bit, we have used diamond-cut plaster design. The cell is awaiting a final coating of white paint,” Swarankar said.

“Now that we have successfully recreated one cell, we are studying the other cells. The agenda is to preserve the original layer in these cells while restoring their grandeur. We will soon work out on how to carry out renovation work in the other structures,” he said.

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