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Punjab

Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer retreat, Ram Bagh, in a shambles

May 23, 2019 05:20 AM

COURTESY HT MAY 23

Mandeep Kaur Narula letterschd@hindustantimes.com
Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer retreat, Ram Bagh, in a shambles
Despite protected tag, the complex has been encroached upon by 3 clubs
AMRITSAR : Despite the state and central governments’ repeated assurances about the preservation of historic sites in the holy city, the 100-year-old Ram Bagh Palace and its surrounding garden, popularly known as the Company Bagh, have fallen into a state of disrepair and wear a dilapidated look.

HT PHOTO
■ The century-old Ram Bagh palace is in an abject state of disrepair.
The Ram Bagh Palace, a specimen of Mughal architecture, which is located in at the heart of Ram Bagh, was completed in 1819 and was the summer retreat of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh empire in Punjab. The Ram Bagh complex, which includes the Ram Bagh Palace, was declared a ‘protected monument’ by the Punjab Government in 1997. It was also declared a monument of national importance in 2004 and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was charged with its restoration. The municipal corporation, Amritsar Improvement Trust and Punjab Heritage and Tourism Board are also authorised to maintain it.

Unfortunately, the ‘protected monument’ tag has not protected the garden complex and the historical buildings within it from blatant encroachment. The complex has been encroached upon by three elite clubs, namely, the Amritsar Club, Lumsden Club and Service Club.

The project to revive the historical Chahar Bagh (quadrilateral garden around the palace), under the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme, has also been hanging fire as one of the watch towers is in possession of a private club. The project will continue to be in a limbo, until the Punjab and Haryana high court passes its verdict on the issue.

A city-based NGO, the Amritsar Vikas Manch, had filed a petition in court to remove concrete structures from the garden, including three clubs. The case will next be heard on July 4, 2019.

POOR UPKEEP

Neglected by authorities, the historic palace, buildings and their boundary walls are crumbling.

The red-stone work of all these buildings was completed by workmen brought from Delhi by Faqir-Aziz-ud-Din in 1819. Today, the red walls stand discoloured and stained due to the kiosks setup on the footpaths along the walls.

Inaugurated in 1995, the fountains in the gardens are now defunct and choked with garbage and dry leaves. A year on, the musical fountain installed at the site is also non-functional. The greenery and gardens are a far cry from their former glory. The complex also lacks drinking water and toilet facilities.

RESIDENTS SPEAK

A resident, Falakpreet Kaur of Ranjit Avenue, says, “As different authorities have been charged with its maintenance, the site has been completed neglected. The authorities conveniently blame each other for negligence, instead of taking accountability. This is impacting tourism in the state.”

However, ASI official Vinod Ravat, said, “The sites, which are under the ASI have been preserved and will be restored once the court case is decided. We are making efforts to protect each and every building in the complex.”

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