With a glorious past of many famous heritage buildings in ‘Paris of Punjab’, introduced by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, bears a connection for every inch of its architecture with the French stamp on it. DAILYPOST Senior Staff Correspondent Kusum Arora finds that the crumbling heritage buildings have found sustenance with the Punjab government, Archeological Survey of India, Cultural Affairs and Museum Department taking initiative to save the rich heritage. The restoration and conservation work of five major buildings – Darbar Hall, Moorish Mosque, Gol Kothi, Buggi Khana and Bhoot Bangla,will incur cost of about Rs 20 crore.
A peep into the erstwhile princely state of Kapurthala brings back to light the glorious heritage of the past, which bears testimony to times immemorial. The time seems to stop for a while, when one visits the heritage monuments of Kapurthala district.
The over centuries old architectural marvels of this royal city resonate with sheer magic and love of French world, which was introduced by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala. Not only Kapurthala bears a ‘French connection’; it is also known as ‘Paris of Punjab,’ for every inch of its architecture has a french stamp on it.
Though many famous heritage buildings of this city have crumbled but the past couple of years saw the Punjab government, Archeological Survey of India, Cultural Affairs and Museum Department taking initiative to save the rich heritage. The Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board has taken up the restoration and conservation work of five major buildings namely Darbar Hall, Moorish Mosque, Gol Kothi, Buggi Khana and Bhoot Bangla, at an approximate cost of Rs 20 crore.
Daily Post found the restoration and conservation work of Darbar Hall and Moorish Mosque going on in full swing, hence bringing back the bygone days to life. Currently, Darbar Hall’s construction work was being carried out at a cost of Rs 4.98 crore.
Among the major attractions of the city is the Darbar Hall, which houses the Kapurthala district administrative complex. The restoration work of Darbar Hall, a huge ancient heritage building ,was being carried on by a team of 38 workers including the civil team, artisans and workers. The Darbar Hall building was started in 1882 AD (1938 Bikrami) and completed in 1889 AD (1945 Bikrami) during the time of his highness Maharaja Jagatjit Singh Bahadur of Kapurthala.
The restoration work of Darbar Hall was being carried out by Rajputana Constructions Private Limited, a team from Jaipur (Rajasthan), which was renowned for restoration and conservation of heritage buildings. The restoration work started on January 25, 2015 and it would conclude on January 24, 2017.
Support Engineer from restoration team Rahul Mulya said, “The Darbar Hall is a 125-year-old heritage building, and the major concern like other restoration works is to maintain its original structure and artistic beauty. We have put up scaffoldings inside the buildings while the artisans were actually bringing it back to life. The stucco work (design on pillars), lime plaster and removing additional cement or some repair work was being done. Right now, the workers were working on the original wall colour while the wall paints will be decided later,” he said.
While an old court room situated on one side of the Darbar Hall was dismantled by the restoration team, the project to give it a pristine look was being carried out. Even the flooring of the Darbar Hall has to be done with Deodar wood to match its old world sheen. “The doors with glass engravings and frames would be made of teak wood with exactly similar design”, he added.
Similarly, Moorish Mosque, a national monument was made on the architecture of famous Grand Mosque of Marakesh in Morocco was a major tourist attraction of Kapurthala. An amount of Rs 4.92 crore is being spent on the renovation work of the mosque. The Moorish Mosque with its large dome was built under guidance of French architect M Manteaux and the artwork was done by artists from Mayo School of Art, Lahore. The inauguration ceremony of the mosque was done by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh on March 14, 1930 in the presence of Nawab Sadiq Mohammad Khan Bahadur, the ruler of Bhawalpur state. And at that time, the construction of Moorish Mosque had cost Rs 4 lakh!
Artisans Sushmita Verma and Manoj Kumar Upadhayay, who were painting walls in Moorish Mosque with select stone colours, said that the restoration work of the mosque started four months ago. “We are a team of six restoration workers, who have not only studied the design and patterns of the mosque but utmost precision was required to bring back its original grandeur,” they said.
The duo said that before beginning the artistic ‘Alekhan’ work (repeated patterns and designs of flowers, petals and leaves), they performed test patch on the walls. “As this is an over 100-year-old national monument, even the cleaning of walls was done with special chemicals, so as to save its beauty. Even we have been a part of many restoration projects but the architecture of this mosque is superb”, they maintained.
However, it is not just these buildings, the work on Buggi Khana, Gol Kothi and Bhoot Bangla was yet to begin. While Gol Kothi, situated at the back side of the SSP Kapurthala residence was witnessing its ravage every day, Buggi Khana and Bhoot Bangla were crying for attention too. The work on these three buildings was expected to begin soon.
It was at Gol Kothi that Maharaja Jagatjit Singh spent his formative years. As Kapurthala residents maintained that Gol Kothi, which was reduced to ruins, witnessed utter neglect on the part of the government. “Repeated demands and reminders on this subject failed to yield any result. Today, all that remains is mere ruins of a glorious past,” they said.
Last year, the centuries old Lahori Gate of historical Quila (fort) Sarai in Sultanpur Lodhi, which was yet another heritage site in Kapurthala, collapsed. The huge gate bore the brunt of utter neglect and crumbled, as it was badly dilapidated. However, four years ago, the restoration work of this site was done at a cost of Rs 19 lakh but it was left mid-way. Though Bhai Baldeep Singh, who was running Anad foundation to conserve the heritage buildings was raising voice to save Lahori Gate but to no avail.
Later, the then secretary Tourism cultural affairs Raji P Shrivastava and Director Tourism Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa had visited the site to begin its restoration.
Talking to Daily Post, Director Tourism Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa said that the work on Darbar Hall and Moorish Mosque was going on while the restoration work of Buggi Khana, Bhoot Bangla and Gol Kothi was all set to start. “A major portion of Gol Kothi has crumbled, so part of it would be reconstructed. And at other sections, restoration work would be carried on. The process to allot work was yet to begin. We have set a three-year time frame to complete the work on these three heritage monuments of Kapurthala”, he said.
On promoting the heritage city Kapurthala as a major ‘tourist hub’, the Director Tourism said, “Definitely after conserving the heritage buildings, the idea was to promote Kapurthala as a major tourist destination. We have been marketing Kapurthala in trade fairs”, he added.
For more news updates Follow and Like us on Facebook