History of the building and Re-Adaptation of Dara Shukoh Library by The Arts And Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT)
Under the “Adopt A Heritage” scheme by the Ministry of Culture, TAACHT was entrusted with building to establish the Partition Museum and cultural hub focusing on Delhi’s heritage. Despite facing restoration challenges, the Delhi Government and TAACHT joined hands to restore and revitalize the building, which took a significant effort, including overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that slowed down the restoration process for two years. Today, the Dara Shukoh Library Building stands proudly as a cultural and historical treasure.
The mansion of Dara Shukoh contains partly Mughal and partly Colonial features. The Mughal portion dates back to 1639 as the Northern part of the palace of Dara Shukoh (1615-1659), the eldest and favorite son of Emperor Shah Jahan. After Aurangzeb had Dara Shukoh killed, the property was handed over to Bahadur Shah I, his heir apparent. Around 1707, after the ascension of Bahadur Shah I, the property became the residence of Juliana Dias da Costa. A lady of Portuguese descent, she played a prominent role in the court of Bahadur Shah I. Abul Mansur Mirza Muhammad Muqim Ali Khan (Safdarjung) bought the property very cheaply from the descendants of Juliana Dias da Costa and lived here. Following that, during his tenure as the British Resident of the East India Company from 1803-1806, David Ochterlony added colonial features and made it his Residency. Other British Residents, Archibald Seton, and Charles Metcalf, also lived here. In the 20th century, the property was used as a school, polytechnic, and the offices of the Delhi State Archaeology Department. It has now been developed into the Partition Museum and Cultural Hub.
In 2019, The Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust discovered the Dara Shukoh Library building in a dilapidated state. The grounds were strewn with broken tree branches, uprooted grass, and damaged Mughal arches. However, after extensive restoration work, the building was brought back to its former glory. Subsequently, TAACHT took on the responsibility of maintaining and preserving the beautiful garden surrounding the library
TAACHT undertook the adaptive reuse of space by transforming various areas of the building into galleries for the Partition Museum. One such example is the long verandah on the left, which was converted into the Gallery of Migration. This gallery highlights the struggles of refugees and their arduous journey towards a new nation in the aftermath of Partition.
The lobby area of the Dara Shukoh Library building had constant issues with seepage, rising dampness, and leaking windows. However, after the restoration work was completed, TAACHT repurposed the space to showcase the building’s history and serve as an introduction to the Partition Museum.