Jalau Khana in decay

Constructed in the 1870s by Maharaja Rajindra Singh who was fond of collecting objects of art, the building contained works of art from all over the world. The t famous of them was a crystal fountain which is at present kept in the Sheesh Mahal Museum.

Nearly three years ago, an estimate of expenditure to replace the wooden supports of the building's verandah and to restore its Roman pillars and part of a corner which had collapsed was passed. The first estimate was reportedly for around Rs 35 lakh. Subsequently another estimate was prepared last year for around Rs 12 lakh. However, no money has been released for the restoration project so far.

Built in the style of a museum with a central hall and a big gallery, the Jalau Khana conforms to the standards of a modern art gallery. Its facade has Roman pillars on its two sides which are partly covered by wooden blinds. Inside the verandah, the roof is supported by wooden rafters. Though it gives the look of an European building, it also shows Indian influence in the form of wooden blinds on the pattern of buildings in Calcutta of the same period.

Today the building is in a state of decay. The wooden supports of the verandah have been eaten by termites. The roof is in a precarious condition. The Roman pillars are bereft of their grandeur with plaster peeled off at several places. Part of the 'jaali' which adorns a balcony on the first floor has collapsed and the first floor has been affected by humidity and algae which have defaced its walls. Part of the building on the western side has collapsed.

The Jalau Khana did not receive any attention after 1995-96 when it was partially repaired. It was then that the building was taken over by the Patiala Kala Parishad on the initiative of the then Divisional Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sinha. The parishad restored the building to its original state. Earlier, artefacts from the Jalau Khana were taken to Sheesh Mahal and it was used by the Department of Education when Pepsu was formed. Later it became the office of the District Education Officer when Pepsu was merged into Punjab.

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