Death anniversary today: Monuments associated with the Maharaja
The monuments associated with the Maharaja were taken care of in India but sans conservationists. The walled city, which houses the Golden temple, has its gates restored, but new buildings are coming up where the wall used to exist initially. For instance, many modern structures have come up at the exit point of Sikandri gate and its adjoining part as well and in place of the wall. Most areas of the walled city are a picture of neglect and need special care from the conservation perspective. They are of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time. Pakistan has most important landmarks associated with him and the Khalsa Raj.
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 26
Like every year, the death anniversary of the legendary Sikh king Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be observed on Saturday, but memorials associated with him are facing neglect both in India and Pakistan.
His rule for Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular was considered as the golden period. He brought various path-breaking and dynamic reforms during his rule. He is even known to introduce various art forms in decorating buildings and areas. But, it’s unfortunate that no serious efforts have been made to protect and conserve buildings and areas contributed by him.
Prof Balvinder Singh, Conservation Spatial Planner and former head of Guru Ramdas School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, said: “During research, I observed that the Maharaja had always named areas and buildings after the names of Gurus such as Rambagh on the name of Guru Ramdas and Gobind Garh Fort on the name of 10th Guru Gobind Singh. He never named any building or area after him.”
Prof Singh has written ‘Splendid Artworks in Historic Sikh Shrines of India and Pakistan: Conservation Perspective’, for which he had visited Pakistan on numerous occasions. He found the monuments associated with the Maharaja in a dilapidated and neglected state there as well. He carried out photographic documentation of such memoirs and feels that no efforts have been made to preserve them both in India and Pakistan.
Such monuments and areas are scattered in the East and West Punjab. He said Pakistan has most important landmarks associated with the Maharaja and the Khalsa Raj. The samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore is a double storey structure and contains beautiful frescoes, but these, too, were in a complete neglect, he said, adding that many structures have been whitewashed and the remaining are decaying due to the neglect of the authorities.
The portion of the fort in Lahore, where Maharani Jinda used to stay, also lies in a neglected state. He found that the archeology department of Pakistan had even added a modern brick structure to it, which is an eyesore.
- Rambagh garden: The layout of Rambagh garden, which housed the summer palace of the Maharaja, was altered by the British and the boundary was extended and many new structures were added, which are being used as clubs now. A boundary wall was constructed by architects without studying the historic layers of the garden, and lacking conservation knowledge, which destroyed the history of the garden. Now, restoration work is under way.
- Gobindgarh Fort: It is another historic structure which has been restored and handed over to private players.
- Badrukhan fort: Outside Amritsar, Badrukhan, 5 km from Sangrur, has a fort of Ranjit Singh’s maternal side. A section of historians are of the view that the Sikh emperor was born here.
- Nawanshahr Baradari: There is a Baradari at Nawanshahr, where he used to stay during his travels. It was created for his stay, but its character has been altered without the guidance of conservation professionals. It is claimed that beautiful water system, floor patterns and frescoes were also altered in an un-harmonious way. The Baradari at Pull Kanjari, around 30 km from Amritsar, is also in a dilapidated condition.
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