The monsoon showers seemed to bring no relief to Delhi's weather. Inside the plush air-conditioned cabin of the Hyundai Verna, you'd assume the weather to be a cool 25C considering the heavy rain outside. The temperature gauge, however, read otherwise - 38C! To make things worse, humidity was at a muggy 80 per cent. But none of these things mattered to Hyundai's Happy Move volunteers. They worked ceaselessly through the day to tidy up heritage monuments across Delhi come rain or shine, as a part of the Happy Move's 'Save Our Heritage' campaign.
This was the second phase of the campaign, with the first one being held in January 2016. The first phase involved four monuments in Delhi with 100 volunteers from South Korea and India. This time there were 80 volunteers from South Korea and 24 from India, who were split into teams and again scattered across four monuments -Jantar Mantar, Hauz Khas Village, Qutab Minar and Purana Quila. Our first stop was Jantar Mantar where the second phase was inaugurated. This site was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1724 to revise the time and learn the movements of the sun, moon and planets. It has three astronomical instruments - the Samrat Yantra, the Jayaprakash Yantra and the Misra Yantra.
The Happy Move volunteers hard at work planting at the Purana Quila
With the temperature rising, we quickly made our way around the building-sized astronomical instruments and headed to the comfort of climate control in the Verna. It's quite astonishing how people in the 16th century devised such intricate instruments without any of the technology and knowledge thatwe have today.
The Happy Move volunteers were working ceaselessly all over the Purana Quila
Next on our list was the Purana Quila, or the Old Fort. Located very close to the India Gate, this fort's circumference measures nearly 2km and houses the Sher Mandal and the Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque. As soon as we entered the premises, we saw more than a dozen people in green jackets busy at work in different locations. It was mid-afternoon and there were hardly any clouds to provide shelter from the sun, but that didn't seem to slow anyone, but us. With music playing in the background, there was an air of cheerfulness all around as the volunteers focussed all their attention on the job at hand.
The Qutab Minar's architectural style is simply spectacular
With the sun showing no signs of sympathy, we got back into the Verna and headed to the Qutab Minar. Google Maps said it would take us close to an hour to navigate the 15km because of heavy traffic. Sure enough, we were stuck in a traffic with impatient drivers trying to make their way through the narrowest spaces. However, the Verna was quite hassle-free in such conditions with its light clutch, ideal dimensions and torquey diesel engine.
At the Hauz Khas Village, the volunteers worked ceaselessly through the day, planning and digging pits to place lamps in
By the time we reached the Qutab Minar,it was pouring cats and dogs. Assuming thevolunteers would sit this one out, we decided tohead to Hauz Khas Village instead and returnedhere the next morning. The rains had made thetraffic even worse with disgruntled motorcyclists making their way through the flooded streets.Inside the car, however, it was nothing but calm, thanks to Verna's great insulation and a lovelymusic system.
Hauz Khas is best seen at sunset as we discovered when we arrived there. The view from the madrasa overlooking the water tank (hauz) and the sunset is quite marvellous. But the volunteers weren't here as tourists, so they were busy at work digging up holes for lamps. Only when the rain had caught up, did they finally decide to take a break. As the final rays of the sun started to disappear, we called it a day and headed to the hotel.
The next morning, we went back to the Qutab Minar expecting volunteers to just begin work because of the previous day's rains. But we were wrong. Most of the painting work was already done and at least a hundred plants were rooted firmly. Even with the sun high up the next day, there were still no signs of them slowing down.
While the Archaeological Survey of India was taking care of the restoration and maintenance of the monuments themselves, the Happy Move volunteers took care of painting the gates and digging holes for lamps and plants around these sites. While these might seem like trivial matters, one has to remember that it's the smallest of details that make the biggest difference. For instance, in the Hyundai Verna that we drove, tiny details like the clear instrument cluster, automatic headlamps and wipers, and the elegantly finished trims on the dashboard make a big difference to the overall experience.
The Happy Move will also conduct a school contact programme which will involve four schools in conducting premises cleaning, wall designing, garden maintenance and design competitions. This will create a new and innovative learning environment for students. Rakesh Srivastava, the senior vice president of Hyundai Motor India, said that along with the Archaeological Survey of India, the brand is leading to make an on-ground impact in thinking and generating importance for our rich heritage".
The Purana Quila is a spectacular sight covering a circumference of around 2km. It houses large gardens, the Sher Mandal and a beautiful old mosque called the Qila-i-Kuhna
Through this campaign, Hyundai and the Archaeological Survey of India are leading thechange in preserving Indian culture. They are creating a direct impact on the minds of tourists who notice these volunteers' hard work. This impact will help spread awareness across India about our monuments and save our culture for future generations.