Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Losing Heritage at Hazur Sahib, Darbar Sahib is Next

Despite desperate pleas and worldwide attention, the demolition of historic structures on the premises of Gurdwara Sach Khand Hazur Sahib is continuing. The Ramgarhia Bunga has been destroyed.

Gurmeet Rai, director of the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative, again demanded the immediate removal of Parvinder Singh as president of the management committee of Hazur Sahib for his failure to protect its heritage. “How can an officer in service of the state justify making management decisions of Hazur Sahib? He has many compulsions for the state,” Rai said at a Punjabi University seminar. Parvinder Singh is an Indian Police Service officer who is also serving as director general of police of Maharashtra state. In December, Rai led a team of conservation architects and urban designers to Nanded, in Maharashtra, to evaluate the demolition plans on the Hazur Sahib grounds. They found the plans to be detrimental to historic buildings as well as the gurdwara.

Meetings with the project’s managers were unsuccessful. Parvinder Singh had invited Rai to meet with him personally, but that never took place.

"The threat to historical heritage has started. The gurdwara and state authorities have begun bulldozing monuments in preparation for visitor housing. …The proposed plan lacks adequate sensitivity to heritage buildings," Rai said. The site is slated for construction of large buildings and open spaces, referred to as a Galiyara, around the inner sanctum.
The Ramgarhia Bunga was built during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The building accommodated the masons he sent from Punjab to build the inner sanctum of Hazur Sahib. It can only be seen in photographs now. Some structures in close proximity to the inner sanctum of Hazur Sahib were already demolished, and a food storage building, called the Modikhana, was being demolished during her December visit, Rai said. Other heritage structures were crumbling from neglect. The management is holding off on the destruction of parts of the Baradari, where the Guru Granth Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh's weapons were kept during construction, for now, she said.

Rai was speaking at a seminar on Punjab handicrafts organized by Patiala Heritage Society. She also criticized the construction of a 5.35 km elevated road to Darbar Sahib. The Rs.173 crore project will increase traffic chaos around the complex. And the close proximity of vehicles traveling to Darbar Sahib will disturb its sanctity.
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