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Monday, August 29, 2011

TRAVEL & TOURISM: Of Mumtaz, a mahal and a museum!!


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The Hindu / August 28, 2011.

The Mumtaz Mahal museum
The Mumtaz Mahal museum.


The Mumtaz Mahal museum in the Red Fort is 100 years old, observes R.V. Smith, digging out the facts on how it came about.
It may surprise some to learn that the Mumtaz Mahal museum in the Red Fort is 100 years old. Browsing through a contemporary's “100 years ago” one read a news item dated August 20, 1911, “By desire of Sir Louis Dane, E.C.I.E. Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, a committee has formed under the presidency of the Commissioner of Delhi Division, for the purpose of making a loan collection of objects of historical and archaeological interest for exhibition during the coming cold weather. One of the old buildings in the Fort (the Chhoti Baithak of Mumtaz Mahal), which has for many years been used as a sergeants' mess, is being adapted to receive the collection, and to exhibit it to the best advantage. The combined collection will be on view on the occasion of the garden party which is to be given in the Fort in honour of His Majesty the King Emperor, but it is intended that it shall remain open during the whole of the cold weather. It is hoped that the collection will be the best of its kind ever exhibited in India, and it is sure to attract large numbers of visitors. The objects wanted for the exhibition the item says, should be sent to J.P. Thompson, I.C.S, Divisional and Sessions Judge, Delhi, or to the Hon. Secretary, Gordon Sanderson, Superintendent of Mohamedan and British Monuments, Northen Circle, Agra.
According to Maulvi Zafar Hasan, the building formed part of the imperial seraglio and was used as a prison in 1857. It measures 26.9 meters by 25 meters east to west. However the gilded chhatris have now disappeared but the chajja or parapet, reconstructed in 1911 remains. He goes on to say “the lower portions of the walls and piers are of marble and traces of some of the old painted and glass decoration, with which the building was formerly adorned, exposed”. The date of its construction is given as 1639-48. The Mumtaz Mahal was again renovated a few years ago and now looks as spick and span as a modern building.

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