Quila crumbles as material to restore it lies in stores

Furthermore, even as the magnificent facade of the front gate itself is threatened, besides the ‘dhuni’ of the dynasty which has been burning since more than 200 years and other structures in the inner complex, the Culture and Archives Department is undertaking a cosmetic exercise to beautify the front courtyard and entrance area in anticipation of a VIP visitor, who is likely to preside over a function proposed to be held before the throne room and other painted chambers are thrown open to the public.

The extent to which the Quila is threatened by the coming monsoon and the damage which is going unattended can be seen upon entering the Quila Androon complex. A massive crack, more than 20-feet-long, has appeared in the upper right corner at the back of the main gate edifice. The crack, if allowed to develop further, will threaten a major portion of the main gate itself. This crack, however, seems to have escaped the attention of those working in the courtyard below where walls are being smoothened and beautified.

Climbing two floors one sees other cracks. The t noticeable is the one which is threatening what is left of the beautiful facade of the Florence Mahal. This palace, which was built by Maharaja Rajinder Singh for the daughter of his stable incharge, is unique because of its beautiful Gothic arches and European architecture. It was the only building with running water and fire places, besides large stain glass windows. The floor in one of the rooms has collapsed partly and is threatening the room below. Besides this the roof is leaking. Strangely the leak is occurring not in the old roof but parts which have been constructed afresh .{pagebreak}

A visit to the roof reveals even more starting details. A ‘chabutra’ in one corner on top of the ramparts is virtually disintegrating with two of its pillars coming apart. In front of it part of the roof has also collapsed. Besides this cracks are visible in other ‘chathris’ which beautify the roof of the Quila and lend it its grandeur. Even more distressing is the case of the ‘dhuni’ situated on the top floor. Its chimney is literally coming away threatening the fire below which has been burning for more than two hundred years and is kept going as there is a superstition that Patiala will be destroyed in case it is snuffed out.

The room which houses the ‘dhuni’ and an adjoining room which serves as a gurdwara are also leaking. The ‘chadars’ placed atop the Granth Sahib were completely drenched when there was heavy rain in the town a week back. The roof is in a poor condition and needs to be replaced. The department has placed bitumen sheets on top of the roof to stop leaking but the sheets have also cracked and are no longer serving their purpose.
Even as the Quila is in such a state, a large stock of bitumen sheets, mortar, wood, iron pipes and other material lies unused in various stocks in the quila complex itself. Sources said this material has being lying unused since a long time. Authorities here say there is a shortage of funds as well as labour due to which various vulnerable points could not be attended to adding minor restoration work had been done wherever needed.

Sources said the Quila Androon complex could be completed attended to if its roofs were replaced wherever needed. This they said was due to the fact that the water level in the area had gone down considerably reducing moisture and ensuring longevity of the walls. However, they said lack of moisture had resulted in the wood used as rafters in the roof becoming brittle and being targeted by termite. They said the Archaeological Survey of India had recently restored some roofs in the adjoining Ranwas structure from what little funds were provided to it by the Punjab government. They said such an organisation could be involved in getting the roofs and other points in the Quila Androon also attended to.

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