ASI may head to Red Fort after Purana Quila work

­­­The Archaeological Survey Of India is planning to carry out an excavation inside the Red Fort soon. The project is likely to kick-off after the ongoing excavation at Purana Quila ends.

“We do not have enough manpower to carry out two excavations simultaneously. The excavation at Purana Quila is likely to go on till April-end. Following this, we will start the new project,” said said Vasant Kumar Swarankar, chief superintending archaeologist.

The excavation will be undertaken in the fort’s Mehtab Bagh area. The sprawling Mughal-era garden is opposite Swatantrata Sangram Sanghralaya museum.

Red Fort originally had two gardens — Mehtab Bagh and Hayat Bakhsh gardens — when it was built in 1648. In 1863, the British destroyed vast tracts of buildings outside and inside the fort. It was around this time that these two gardens were filled up.


“The Mehtab Bagh garden was built during Shah Jahan’s period. Later, the British destroyed it. The garden is only a flat ground now,” added Swarankar.

The Mehtab Bagh was also called as the “moonlight garden”. At the centre of this garden was a red sandstone building called Lal Mahal.


The excavation undertaken will aim to find out the original layout of the garden.
“Besides digging for the original layout of the garden, we will also aim to find out water channels, fountains and pathways,” said Swarankar.

Water channels, tanks and canals are typical features of most Mughal gardens.
“Once the excavation establishes the original layout of Mehtab Bagh, we are also considering restoring the garden,” added Swarankar.

The ASI is also planning to install LED lights at the world heritage site to conserve electricity and slash its electricity bills. It is likely to launch the pilot phase by May-end.

Recently, the ASI had opened the excavation site at Purana Quila and exhibited the discovered antiquities for public view. While the ASI estimated the footfall to be over 10,000 the first day, officials said around 4,000 people visited the historical site the second day.

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