Wednesday, January 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

High-tech facilities proposed
Heritage status for Golden Temple
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 14
The dossier being sent for declaring the Golden Temple as a world heritage site has suggested major changes with a view to synchronise them with the standards set by UNESCO.

The above-400-page dossier prepared under the supervision of former SGPC general secretary Kiranjot Kaur and several Sikh intellectuals suggests various modifications to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance capacity.

The dossier was approved by an eminent historians’ committee headed by Mr Avtar Henry, Minister for Industry.

The “improvement prescription” includes the addition of temporary and semi-permanent audio-visual systems, electric lighting, a museum, a library, public facilities, besides changes in existing practices to be executed over a span of five years.

For “festival structures”, the initial survey by a team of experts proposes tent-like structures during festivals to be replaced with portable structures and introduction of traditional “phulkari” canopies.

Similarly, the causeway to the sanctum sanctorum, which is of a great spiritual significance, is proposed to be have a canopy, using traditional tapestry and designs inspired by traditional Punjabi miniature art and craft. It has also been proposed to remove all controls from the causeway and regulate the pilgrims’ rush by forming turnstiles prior to entry into the “darshni deori” to keep the spiritual experience of taking 84 steps to the divine experience at the sanctum sanctorum intact.

The “dukh bhanjini beri”, the

bathing zone, is recommended to be converted into a permanent bathing area. The design incorporates thermal comfort, natural light through stylised lattices, privacy and convenience for the physically challenged persons while affording a one-way view of Sri Harminder Sahib.

The community kitchen or “langar”, a core ritual of the Sikh faith and culture, needs to be organised. Presently, it presents an unfinished appearance, according to the dossier. It recommends a holistic revamp of the “langar” facility that includes floor patterns guiding visitors’ movement, seating arrangements, mass dish-washing system to ensure hygiene, piped LPG, pest control, garbage disposal and safety etc.

Other additions include a museum which is conceived to be a “talking gallery” where visitors walk through defining events of five centuries of Sikh history using multi-media kits.

The Sikh reference library is proposed to be upgraded according to modern needs which include computerisation and networking, besides shelving, storage, special sections for photo and picture sections, audio cassettes, CDs, CDROMs, Vinyl records and other electronic storage devices, DVD players, shredders and photocopiers etc.

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