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CONSERVATION AND MUSEUM DEVELOPMENT AT DARA SHIKOH LIBRARY

Dara Shikoh was the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shahjahan. Dara Shikhoh Library has extreme historic significance as it is believed to be part of the mansion built by the prince at the same time that the Red Fort was being constructed, around 1639-48 AD. In the early 19th century the building became the first British residency occupied by Sir David Ochterlony, and was given a new façade with classical colonial features. There are some remains of the original structure, specially found on the northern side at a lower level and in form of some columns and cusped arches on the upper level partially hidden by the walls added later. The building therefore reflects an interesting hybridity. The interior still retains features of Mughal architecture such as baluster columns and scalloped arches, while the front façade of the building has large Roman pillars with Ionic order capitals on the front verandah on the southern side. The series of columns and arches found on the lower level constitute what was perhaps the Qutub khana, or library, which originally housed the collection of books of Dara Shikoh. INTACH has proposed to turn the Dara Shikoh library into a City Museum with the intention of preserving and promoting cultural heritage. The museum lends itself well to the learning process as a laboratory of sorts; where practical knowledge may be introduced in a whimsical, thoughtful and artistic.