Nestled in a corner of an 18-hole golf course here is an iconic monument to the historic 'Battle of Delhi' but authorities are hesitating to popularise it, fearing the sporting facility may be "rendered unmanageable" and put visitors at the risk of being hit by "flying balls".
Locally known as the 'Battle of Patparganj', it was fought on September 11, 1803, during the second Anglo-Maratha War between the British troops led by General Gerard Lake and the Scindia Army under French commander Louis Bourquien.
The monumental stone-built pillar, commemorating the decisive battle, which lent the British Raj a major hold over India, was raised in 1916 but even after a century, this episode of history remains confined to few books and scholars.
"Near this spot was fought on Sept 11th, 1803, the Battle of Delhi in which forces of the Mahrattas commanded by M Louis Bourquien were defeated by the British Army under General Gerard Lake," reads the inscription on a plaque installed on the top of the pillar.
Sitting handsomely atop a mound inside the 97-acre Noida Golf Course (NGC), with steps leading to the pillar, many a players have swung their clubs from the site as Tee No 16 is located on it.
The sporting establishment, built by the Noida Authority in 1989, has maintained the site well but is hesitating in popularising the monument as a heritage attraction due to certain concomitant constraints.
"If the monument is officially declared as a heritage, then we cannot restrict access of people to the site. But, that sudden increase in footfall will bring a lot of problems.
"Walking is limited on golf courses due to the special grass used for it. And, so many people walking on it will damage it. Besides, visitors will run the risk of getting injured from golf balls hit by players. So, overall the place would become unmanageable," a senior official of NGC told PTI.
Former Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Brijendra Sahay, who oversaw the construction of the sprawling course as the then Chairman of Noida Authority, recalls the condition of the monument when the layout of the site was being done.
"The pillar was all covered in bushes and the place itself was all farmland and jungle. We got the site around the monument cleaned up and the historic landmark has been fairly well maintained since then," he said.
The monument was built by F Lishman and contractor was Roopram N Singh, as per inscriptions on the back side.
The golf course monument is currently neither protected under the Archaeological Survey of India or the state archaeology department.
"It is one of the finest sporting facilities in the country and hosted several big-ticket golf tournaments. The course was to be designed by an Australian expert but we ended up designing it ourselves," Sahay, the founder president of NGC, said.
The pillar also had at its bottom, a tablet bearing the Urdu version of the battle inscription.
A small inscription in Urdu beside it, reads that it was erected in 1916. A small inscription in English signifying the year of erection was also put up in the pillar, but it no more embedded in the monument. "It (inscription 'Erected 1916') was there earlier. We would try to find out what happened to that inscription," a source said. Patparganj area is currently located in east Delhi's trans-Yamuna region and about 12 km from the NGC that falls in the NCR. The place finds mention in 18th century maps of Delhi as well. Post-independence, the area saw rapid development and by 1990s, many apartment complexes and society apartment blocks came up in the region. The course has played host to some of the biggest names in the field of golfing, and various other celebrities, including former cricketer Kapil Dev, often come here to "tee on the greens", the official said. The 18-hole par 72 course has a length of 6,989 yards and a water way running across the 8th, 10th, 11th and 17th fairways. Other water bodies, trees, bushes, small wooded areas, and sand filled bunkers are some of its other features, according to NGC. "The 7th hole is among the most testing holes on the course. The green is on a plateau ahead of environmentally sensitive plantations," it said. The course also has a coffee house, restaurants, bridge and rummy rooms, health clubs, besides an old pub and restaurant in its premises. The main lobby is interestingly called the 'Nineteenth Hole'. "We have over 5,000 members and more than 1,000 people are on the waiting list. So, while we take pride in the fact a historical monument is situated on the greens, we cannot make it openly accessible, as the course surface is very fragile," the senior NGC official said.