Among the monuments getting a face-lift for the G20 Summit, is Ghalib ki Haveli in Old Delhi’s chaotic Ballimaran market. The 19th century famous Urdu poet, Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan Ghalib, spent the last years of his life at the haveli.
The restoration work is being jointly done by the Department of Archaeology & Museum, Public Works Department, and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
“Only 25% (of the haveli) is left now as most of it has been encroached upon. We are cleaning the area and doing a couple of lights and furniture work,” said an ASI official, who was guiding a few workers at the spot, without divulging much.
On the gate of the haveli, two stones are installed on both the sides. While one reads “Ghalib memorial” in Hindi, English and Urdu, other has “Mirza Ghalib had spent the last phase of his life in this haveli from (1860-1869)” inscribed on it.
Inside are some more posters and a few of his belongings.
Born in Agra in 1797, Ghalib lived here at a time when the Mughal empire was on the decline in India.
Despite its crowded location, the haveli is frequented by visitors regularly. On the day of Patriot’s visit, many were at the heritage site, which is open on six days of the week, except Monday, from 11am- 6pm.
Gulam Mustafa, a local resident who is guarding the haveli, said, “Ghalib breathed his last at this mansion. After his death, locals started pouring into the haveli. Until 1995, here at the haveli factories were running (pointing towards a picture hanging on the wall). Then, after the Mirza Ghalib show, the government began to vacate the place.”
Shafiquddin, who runs a shop just beside the gate, claimed that it belonged to his ancestors who gave it to the government for turning it into a memorial for the revered poet.
“We are the fifth generation of this property, which was bought by my grandfather in 1963 in a custodian auction. During Partition, the original owner moved to Pakistan. My grandfather used to run a wooden shop here. The government paid us Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation for the house,” he said.
“After that it developed and programmes were also organised here. Tourists come here from all over the world. Now because of g-20 is being renovated. But I think there is nothing new for this area. After the three days of the event, the condition of the area will be as it was,” he added.
Recently, Delhi Food & Civil Supplies (F&S) Minister Imran Husain took stock of preparations and instructed officers to light up the Ghalib ki Haveli and adjoining area in tricolour.