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The Last Stand: The Qila Mubarak of Patiala




Standing tall and having witnessed the changes in the royal city of Patiala, Punjab, for almost two-and-a-half centuries, Qila Mubarak, the erstwhile residence of the famed Patiala dynasty, is struggling for its own existence now. Despite being considered as the identity of the city for years together, the Qila is losing its sheen with each passing day due to negligence on the part of Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums.

The building that was once known for its grandeur and rare art is now on the verge of destruction. Not only has it become discoloured, many portions of the structure have collapsed due to adverse weather and lack of maintenance.

Ran Baas, the portion of the fort which was used as a guest house during the early years, started collapsing a few years ago. It started deteriorating when just a small pillar of the building fell, but due to the neglect of the authorities, a major portion of it has collapsed now. Even the burj wall is facing the brunt of neglect due to the rains. The walls are covered with mud and green fungus. Moreover, the roofs of the fort have become so weak that they have developed holes, and the water keeps dripping into various areas of the fort through these holes.

Bagh Ghar or the Garden House, which was once lit by scented candles and in which soothing music was played to entertain royals, is beyond recognition now. The condition of this entertainment area is so miserable that the entire portion has collapsed. The roof of the room where Baba Ala Singh’s jot is lit has also been damaged.

Interestingly, the successor of the royal family, Captain Amarinder Singh, was the Chief Minister of the state from 2002 to 2007, but nothing much has been done for the upkeep of this fort even in his reign. Moreover, the Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums and the Archaeological Survey of India, which have been given the task of preserving this building, have also not done much about it.

Qila Mubarak is a fort-cum-palace, surrounded by walls that have been constructed, using defensive architecture. The fortification, however, does not diminish the beauty of palace.

The palace was built by Maharaja Ala Singh in 1763, and during its inception, it was merely a mud fort or kachi garhi, which was later renovated into a rambling two-storey mansion with an imposing entrance with intricate arches. A large portion of the fort has now been converted into a heritage museum.

The present fort is divided into two parts - Qila Androon or the inner fort, and the other between Qila Androon and outer walls with the secretariat on the left and Darbar Hall on the right. Qila Androon was the residential part of the palace that was inhabited by the royal members of the Patiala dynasty. The palace has been constructed using intricate architectural patterns used by Mughals and Rajasthanis.

The outer portion was built by Maharaja Karam Singh. The Darbar Hall has now been converted into a museum where rare arms, including the sword and dagger of Guru Gobind Singh and Nadir Shah’s sword, are on display.

Director-cum-secretary of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, Punjab, Hussan Lal, says Rs. 10 million were sanctioned to the Archaeological Survey of India and the department for the maintenance of this fort in February 2009.

"The work is a little slow because several approvals have to be taken. We have demanded Rs. 830,000 from the Finance Department for repair work in the fort, out of which Rs. 1.9 million have been sought immediately to renovate the area where Baba Ala Singh’s Jot is lit," adds Hussan Lal.


[Courtesy: Tribune]

October 16, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 16, 2011, 9:46 AM.

Sikh heritage is not on the agenda for anyone in the government ... jealousy, based on sectarian hatred is! When you have people in power just interested in personal financial gain, then everything is going to be neglected. We should be taking on these projects on our own shoulders, if they mean anything to us!

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