17 years on, Ahluwalia Gate at Amritsar's Gheo Mandi awaits reconstruction

The gate was demolished by British after the annexation of Punjab in 1849

17 years on, Ahluwalia Gate at Amritsar's Gheo Mandi awaits reconstruction

The entrance of Gheo Mandi where the Ahluwalia Gate is to be constructed. Tribune photo: Vishal Kumar

Charanjit Singh Teja

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 2

Even 17 years after laying the foundation stone of the reconstruction of the Ahluwalia Gate at Gheo Mandi entrance of the walled city, the government has failed to execute the plan till date. Then Congress MLAs Jugal Kishore and Harjinder Singh Thekedar had laid the foundation stone on November 19, 2003.

A proposed model of the Ahluwalia Gate in Amritsar on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Vishal Kumar

The Municipal Corporation passed a unanimous resolution for the construction of the gate on January 17, 2003.

The gate was demolished by Britishers after the annexation of Punjab in 1849. The Sikh heritage of the city was vandalised by the Britishers and re-constructed some of the gates with colonial architecture in 1860s. Most of these sites were named after English administrators.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, King of the Nation

  • Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was born (1718-1783) at a village called Ahlu or Ahluwal near Lahore, established by his ancestor, Sadda Singh, a devotee of Guru Hargobind. Hence, the name Ahluwalia stuck to him. Jathedar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was honoured with the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum (King of the Nation).
  • Under the leadership of Jassa Singh, the Dal Khalsa took over Lahore, the capital of Punjab, for the first time in 1761. Abdali thought that having demolished their fort and desecrated their holy sarovar, he had made Sikhs unable to face the Afghans. However, within months, the Sikhs, guided by Ahluwalia, were strong enough to make Afghans their prisoners and also make them clean up the Amrit Sarovar.
  • With the resources available to him, he got the buildings repaired, improved the management of the gurdwaras and provided better civic facilities to residents of Amritsar.

A number of historical documents including maps of the Municipal Committee, Amritsar, depict 12 historical gates, including Darwaza Ramgarhia and Darwaza Ahluwalia. On the basis of these old maps of Amritsar Corporation (1849 and 1947) mentioned Dr Anand Gabha, in her book “Amritsar: A study in Urban History, two associations including Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation and Sultan-ul-Quam Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Memorial Society initiated the activism to reconstruct the gates around 20 years back.

Onkar Singh Sandhu, patron of the Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation made efforts and constructed the Ramgharia Gate with the help of Ramgarhia community in 2014.

Pardeep Singh Walia, president of Sultan-ul-Quam Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Memorial Society said, “The Municipal Corporation has passed the proposal and two MLAs laid the foundation stone. But the construction work never started. The centre and the state government spending crores on the heritage and beautification projects of the walled city but did not construct one of the most important gate, demolished by Britishers. I have all the record about the existence of gate but no one wanted to hear us”.

Micheal Raul, an activist working for the heritage building, said, “Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia had a great contribution to the city and its dwellers. He protected the city from invaders by constructing military posts around. The historical record established that Darwaja was demolished after annexation of Punjab. It should be reconstructed to pay tribute to Sardar Jassa Singh. It will also helpful for the tourism in the city.”

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