Haveli Dharampura is a 19th century residence (PTI)
An iconic 19th century 'haveli' in Old Delhi, painstakingly restored over six years, and Mumbai's refurbished Wellington Fountain are among the landmarks that have earned a special mention in UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation this year.
Nestled in a narrow bylane of the Walled City, three-storeyed Haveli Dharampura in Gali Guliyan, a stone's throw from the historic Jama Masjid, was converted into a heritage hotel.
Union minister and heritage connoisseur Vijay Goel, owner of the charming mansion, at a press conference held in its luxuriant courtyard today, appealed to the government to come up with policies to encourage other haveli owners to restore their properties, by offering them incentives.
"The conservation of Haveli Dharampura rescued an extraordinary 19th century residence in old Delhi from years of unsuitable interventions and adapted it for contemporary use as a luxe boutique hotel.
"The haveli's original spatial configuration was re-established and ornate architectural elements were carefully restored, returning the building to its former splendour," said Duong Bich Hanh, Chair of Jury for Heritage Awards UNESCO Bangkok.
His statement was read out by Mr Goel at the press conference which was also attended by Union Culture Secretary Rashmi Verma and ASI's Director General Usha Sharma, among others.
Ms Verma said the recognition was "well-deserved" and fed to the "experiential culture" that tourists today wish to enjoy, over and above the visit to a few cultural heritage monuments.
"There are many monuments and structures which do not fall in the ambit of the ASI. So, individual efforts like this are commendable and required. The government will support but unless there is no passion, it won't happen," she said.
Ms Verma, who also holds the charge of tourism secretary, emphasised that "we need to work in partnership". "A sense of pride and a sense of ownership has to be inculcated among the owners, and everyone should work together on it," she said.
"We will definitely promote this as a heritage spot in the heart of Chandni Chowk that gives you the feel of the area," she added.
The ASI director general said a "replication" of this model was needed in the country.
Lauding the efforts that went into the restoration of the haveli, the UNESCO jury expressed hope that "you will continue to share the lessons learned from the project to encourage heritage conservation efforts in your country and throughout the region".
The UNESCO also praised the restoration of the Wellington Fountain, saying it "demonstrates the importance of extending heritage protection efforts to the public realm".
"The project is a notable step forward in strengthening the understanding and commitment for appropriate management of municipality's civic heritage," it said in a statement.
The colonial-era fountain was built in 1860s and named after Duke of Wellington.
The awards were announced earlier this month. Besides, Haveli Dharampura and Wellington Fountain, the Bomonjee Hormarjee Wadia Fountain and Clock Tower in Mumbai and Gateways of Gohad Fort in Gohad, Madhya Pradesh, were also recognised in the 'Honourable Mention' category.