M A I N   N E W S

Without repairs, Sirhind’s heritage inn could be history
Sanjay Bumbroo/TNS

Decades ago, the Punjab Tourism Department ventured into setting up tourist complexes at scenic places. Among these sites were Pincassia on the bank of the Sutlej, Madhopur near Pathankot, Aam Khas Bagh and the Floating Restaurant in Sirhind. However, most of the tourist complexes are either in a bad shape or have been shut down. The Tribune takes a look these tourist sites.

A dilapidated facade of "Daulat Khana" at Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind.
A dilapidated facade of "Daulat Khana" at Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind. Photo by writer

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 7
Broken windowpanes, damaged false ceilings, broken washrooms and 5-to-7-ft of wild growth around the Maulsari Aam Khas Bagh restaurant complex built at a cost of around Rs 2 crore. This is the sorry state of affairs at the Mughal-era highway inn located in Sirhind.

The district administration had sent a proposal to the Punjab Government to use about 2 acres of the 42-acre heritage site for building a circuit house. However, the Tourism Department did not agree to the proposal as it wanted to run a centre to promote handicrafts and other items produced in the state, besides running the restaurant.

Sources said the department had agreed in principle to allocate five rooms in the complex to the district administration which were to be used as a circuit house.

The tourism department-run hotel 'Maulsari' was abruptly ‘shut down’ in 2006. But sources said that the project was still in the reckoning.

Vijeyan Kutty, a former manager of ‘Maulsari’, said that the hotel had shown a profit of around Rs 90 lakh in 2006. He said at least 15 to 20 persons were employed in the hotel who were given a three-month notice at the time of the closure. He said they had filed a case in court and the next date of hearing was January 8.

In March 2010, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 1.75 crore for the preservation of the Aam Khas Bagh monuments. The restoration work was abandoned by the Archaeological Survey of India as around Rs 6 crore more were required for the job. According to sources, the state government had sought an additional grant from the Centre for the Bagh's maintenance.

The Aam Khas Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Babur and later rebuilt by Shah Jahan in the middle of Delhi and Lahore along the Grand Trunk Road. Royal families, during the Mughal period, used to stay here during their trips to Lahore.

Keeping in view its great potential to attract tourists not only from the country but across the globe, the state government had decided to develop it as a state-of-the-art tourist destination.

The World Monument Watch, an international organisation working to protect ancient and heritage buildings, has kept Aam Khas Bagh on the list of World Monuments Fund List of 2012 and has listed it among 67 most endangered sites in the world.

Floating restaurant

The floating restaurant at Sirhind is in need of immediate repair.
The floating restaurant at Sirhind is in need of immediate repair. A Tribune photograph

Once a tourist attraction, the Bougainvillea Floating Restaurant at Sirhind on the Delhi-Amritsar national highway is in a shambles. No restoration work has been carried out for the past many years.

A part of the restaurant -- resting on steel tubes and floating in the Bhakra waters -- has been weakened by rust. The roof of the restaurant, made of steel sheets, has corroded as has not seen a fresh coat of paint for years. Even a drizzle makes it drip.

The daily Delhi-Lahore bus carrying about 30 to 35 passengers halts at the restaurant for the passengers to take breakfast or lunch.

The restaurant, earlier under the control of the Punjab Tourism Corporation, was later handed over to the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board. The foundation stone of the restaurant was laid by Giani Zail Singh on July 22, 1976. The restaurant had night-stay facilities, but now, all of its eight rooms have been closed.

Sources said that the restaurant is expected to be renovated soon. It was to be handed over to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in collaboration with the Punjab Government. But as the state government has failed to renovate it, the IRCTC authorities were not showing any interest in running the hotel. A manager at the restaurant said that estimates for the renovation work had already been sent to the higher authorities.

NPS Randhawa, Director, Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said that Aam Khas Bagh would be developed as a centre to showcase handicrafts, other crafts and items of the state. About the Floating Restaurant, Randhawa said it would be handed over to the IRCTC for maintenance.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |