The Need for World Heritage Status

The gateway for travelers coming to India on the overland route from central Asia, at the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh twelve majestic gateways were built to stand as sentinels to this pre-eminent city. All, except one, of the gateways were reconstructed during the British regime

According to historians, the sole survivor, Rambagh Darwaza, is the only example left of the original Sikh gateways. The complex that Rambagh Darwaza overlooks was Ranjit Singh’s horse-trading center. Built to withstand cannon shells, the Government’s proclaimed allegiance to heritage notwithstanding, this last great darwaza is crumbling simply under the vagaries of time.

There is wild vegetation growing everywhere, people are using the walls of the complex as free billboards for advertisements; also housed in the complex: a printing press of the municipal corporation since 1930, a government elementary school and offices of the CIA staff of the Police.

Corporation employee Baljit Singh says, "These activities are playing havoc on the complex. The adverse effects that these activities have on the historical buildings have repeatedly been brought to the knowledge of the higher ups but all pleas have fallen on deaf ears."

Balwinder Singh, Reader in the Town Planning Department of Guru Nanak Dev University said, "The rampant deterioration of the city has to be seen to be believed. Last week, ‘World Heritage Day’ came and went by neglected and unnoticed by the government and the residents, just as is our holy city."

"These monuments, especially the old and walled parts of Amritsar, need to be properly surveyed and protected." Hopefully, there will be something left to protect.

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