Encroachments dot Qila Mubarak entrance

Any visitor coming to the Qila Mubarak has to crane his neck to see its main gate as there is practically no open space in front of it from where one can admire its facade. There is a road in front of the gate which has prevented encroachment within a few feet of the gate itself. However, on the other side of the road, the shopkeepers have edged forward considerably.

The administration of the Shiv temple, which is situated in front of the Qila Mubarak gate, has given shops on rent on all four sides of the temple premises with there being only a narrow gate for devotees to enter the temple.

According to sources, the temple is nearly as old as the city itself. However, when the Qila Mubarak was coming up, it was a small affair and the large open space in front of the Qila was known as Qila Chowk. However, after Partition the complexion of the chowk changed with refugees and others putting up tents in the open space and starting their small vocations.

Later on, the temple was enlarged. The temple management made shops on all four sides of the religious place. These were then let out. As the construction was old, all shops were ramshackle affairs. During the past decade, on the pretense of changing roofs and modernising shops, the shopkeepers have been enlarging their premises with none to check them. This has eaten into the open space in front of the Qila Mubarak.

Residents say while nothing can be done about what happened years earlier, the administration and the Municipal Corporation could have taken notice of the encroachments that occurred after the start of the Heritage Festival in February last year.

Few shops have been recently extended on the side of the bank. These shops have new shutters and one can easily make out from where the old shutters were removed and new ones were put in place. Though encroachments seemed to be in the knowledge of lower-level officials of the Municipal Corporation, nothing was done to prevent it.

The Archaeological Department is also guilty of turning a blind eye to the use of the shops situated along the Qila Mubarak walls. These shops are on rent and cannot be sublet. However, at least three shops have been sublet recently and the new proprietors have opened new business there.

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