Demolition of Kaur Sahab ki Haveli begins

The demolition of the haveli spread over three acres of prime land in the city, started yesterday afternoon. The contractor has already demolished the main gate leading to the haveli and workers are bringing down the boundary wall. Only part of the main building has been touched till yet with workers bringing down the nearby barrack style construction which was the Faraash Khana (stores) of the Patiala state and the boundary wall.

Even though the building has been declared unsafe since 1988 and orders for its demolition passed few months ago, the contractor is going to take three months to demolish the building. This is because the masonry is very sturdy and difficult to bring down, says the contractor who is supervising the entire operation.  A visit to the site and inspection of the double storeyed structure revealed that it could have been maintained if the Public Works (Building and Roads) wing, which had been entrusted with its care so desired. A number of employees are still living in the building despite the demolition exercise having started. Om Parkash, an employee of the PWD (B and R), who is living on the first floor, said his living quarters were there for all to see.

He said none of the roofs of the rooms occupied by him leaked. Others said the condition of the building had deteriorated in the past 10 to 12 years as the department concerned did not carry out any repair work. The building could be maintained even now if parts of it which had been badly damaged could be strengthened, they added. Om Prakash said though he would be shortly vacating the premises as he had been allotted alternative accommodation, he had not been served with any eviction notice. Around four to five families are still living in the main building.

Even more disturbing is the large scale vandalisation which has taken place in the haveli. t of the government employees living in the haveli have taken windows, doors and even intricately carved wooden frames with them upon leaving the premises. A visit to the haveli reveals that t of the doors, windows and frames are missing. However they are present wherever people are still residing.  The t recent case of vandalisation occurred yesterday when part of the door in a room which had been intricately carved, disappeared from the premises last night. Half of door had been taken out of its frame by workers yesterday. Harkeerat Singh said workers had left part of the door in the building itself last night and that it was found missing today. {pagebreak}
People of the city who are interested that its heritage be protected and attempts be made to exploit its tourism potential by restoring historical buildings in the city are dismayed at the development. Patiala INTACH chapter President Raja Malwinder Singh has tried to stop the demolition of the haveli. Besides this the local PUDA office has received representations from several citizens to ensure the historical building is not lost.

The building was constructed in 1805 by Maharaja Karam Singh as a residence for his younger son. Later it acquired the nomenclature ‘Kaur Sahab ki Haveli’ after Kaur Sahab its occupant in 1857. Kaur Sahab had to vacate the haveli and leave for Hardwar after the mutiny of 1857 in which he had assisted Bahadur Shah Zafar. The then Maharaja Narinder Singh had pleaded with the British Government that Kaur Sahab had acquired spiritual tastes and should not be charged with treason for helping Bahadaur Shah. The British Government agreed on the condition that he leave Patiala State.

The British Government banished Kaur Sahab from the kingdom but his legacy still lives through the haveli. Now even this is likely to be obilterated with the demolition of the building.

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