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Punjab

Posted at: May 25, 2015, 1:16 AM; last updated: May 25, 2015, 12:46 AM (IST)

Gurdaspur temple’s frescoes ruined, its takeover caught in red-tape

Monument a heritage marvel

  • Panj Mandir is a treasure trove of rare wet lime frescoes of Hindu deities, besides Guru Nanak Dev along with his two disciples Bala and Mardana
  • It comprises four small temples of Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha and Surya in four corners with the main temple of Lord Krishna and Ram at the centre
  • The temple’s unique structure is a blend of various art styles, including Mughal, Hindu and Sikh architecture, which is not found anywhere in the region
  • The invaluable frescoes have been decaying due to lack of knowledge among its caretakers. A small temple-like structure situated opposite the premises is in a shambles too

PK Jaiswar

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 24

The profound legacy of Punjab in the form of unique frescoes adorning monuments is slowly and steadily slipping into oblivion. The slow pace of work by custodians of these heritage structures, including the Archaeological survey of India (ASI) and the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Punjab, is doing no good.

The latest casualty is the historic Panj Mandir, located in Fatehgarh Churian of Gurdaspur district. The owner of this over 180-year-old temple has recklessly whitewashed lower half portion of its walls, damaging the rare frescos that adorned these.

Mohinderpal, who is at present taking care of the temple, said he was trying to preserve the temple with his limited resources. "The frescoes are decaying and the temple needs repair," said Mohinderpal, who is from the third generation of "purohits" who used to worship at the temple.

He claimed a Punjab Tourism Board team had visited the temple and informed him that the government had sanctioned Rs3 crore for the conservation work, but nothing happened.

The temple was constructed by daughter-in-law of legendary Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Chand Kaur, who belonged to Kanhaiya Misl. She was an ardent worshipper of Hindu deities.

In 2011, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, had decided in principal to protect the temple. The same year, a two-member ASI team visited the temple. A proposal to take over the site was reportedly made to the ASI’s Director General in 2012. However, it failed to make an assessment which is mandatory to see whether the site can be preserved.

Anjali Bhawara, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said she would check the status and try to expedite the matter.

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