Bawana’s 19th-century fortress gets a makeover

The single-storey structure, made of lakhori bricks, is being renovated under the state archaeology department’s plan to conserve 19 monuments in Delhi, including Talkatora Garden embankment, tombs in Mehrauli Archeological Park, gateways of Chirag Dilli, and structures in Mehram Nagar.

The area covers on 200 square yard complex.

“We are using materials which were used in that era for restoration. The mixture is a preparation of lime, surkhi (trass), jaggery, and bael fruit (wood apple) pulp. In that period, around 23 ingredients were used in construction including urad ki daal (pulse),” said a conservator.The structure looks like a fortress from outside, and has one arched gateway. The doorway opens into a courtyard surrounded by corridors and has two rooms in the extreme corner on the left. Villagers were confined in these two rooms if they were not able to pay up zaildari tax. The compound, flanked by modern-day houses still has old peepal, banyan, and neem trees.

The complex housed one of the four zails (administrative units tasked with revenue collection) in Delhi. Revenue defaulters were also imprisoned here and so it came to be known as Bawana Jail.