New Metro lines are a big boost for heritage activists like Surekha Narain. Her Delhi Metro walks have extended to 50 routes. Among these pride of place has been taken by those relating to the 1857 “Mutiny” sites, most of which, and also the ones connected with the 1911 Delhi Durbar, are covered by the Metro. With the opening of the Delhi Heritage Metro line by the dormant heritage of places like Daryaganj, Ferozshah Kotla, Meena Bazar in the Red Fort, Lajpat Rai Market and Angoori Bagh, situated in the shadow of the fort, can now be accessed on walking tours.
A big contrast is Meerut, which along with Sardhana, is a tourist haven, where too Surekha has introduced her walks because of the city’s connections with Begam Sumroo and Chandni Chowk. But activists have to encounter some irritating problems there, especially with regard to the 1857 museum, unravelling of the first war of Independence that spread from this city. The museum authorities insist on all visitors, besides foreigners, writing down details of their visit in the museum register, which besides being a bother, is also akin to suspecting their motives.
Another problem is the local press, whose members follow visitors to every site. Even before a touring group can enter the landmark St John’s Church, the press photographers are already there, says Surekha, hindering and intimidating visitors by their over enthusiastic and churlishly-protective attitude, with some of them shouting continuously “Check the permission slips”.
The Delhi Heritage Activist says even when she visited Lahore Museum, outside which the Zamzama gun made by famous Kipling is kept, she did not face such problems as in Meerut. Adding that she would have understood if these were encountered in Pakistan but to face them near Meerut defies understanding