After a gap of few years, the restoration work of the historic Ram Bagh, the summer palace of legendary Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh has gathered pace. The conservation work remained closed for the past year.
At present, wooden doors and windows of the heritage structure are being repaired and replaced. The damaged roof of the main Darbar Hall is also being restored. The inordinate delay in restoration has taken its toll on the historic monument, which suffered immense damage during the past eight years. The work came to a standstill reportedly due to shortage of funds.
The structure is at present under the possession of the Department of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archaeology and Museums, Punjab. The heritage lovers were left disappointed with the conservation work as even after several years it failed to gain momentum. The Tourism Department, which was to carry out the restoration work in a phased manner, was entrusted the work in 2007. Since then, it is out of bounds for the residents. Whatever restoration was previously done got damaged as the palace remained locked for the past one year.
The experts involved in the conservation work said the three storey historic structure had around 80 wooden doors and windows, the designs of which gave an impression of the Mugal and British era, besides Sikh architecture. They said the work of repairing and replacing wooden doors and reconstruction of roofs would take six months. The government had sanctioned over Rs1 crore for the current project, they added.
It is evident to mention here that the tussle between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Department of Tourism and Culture, Punjab, over of the possession of the immensely significant historic structure has adversely affected its maintenance. The historic Ram Bagh was declared a monument of national importance in October 2004. However, even after the notification, the ASI does not have possession of the whole premises. The ASI is carrying out the conservation work only on the entrance gate, four watch towers, hamamghar, small baradari and machhighar.
The remaining structures, including the main summer palace, are under the possession of the Punjab Cultural and Tourism Department. Due to shortage of funds, the restoration work of buildings under the Tourism Department could not be completed even after eight years.
PK Jaiswar, Tribune News Service, Amritsar, November 27