Peg, pagri intact but gates forgotten

There are not many gates to look upto now. Out of the 11 known gates of Patiala, as many as six no longer exist. What are left have been allowed to go into decay for so long that a concerted restoration effort would be required to bring them back to their former glory.

The Punjab Archaeology Department has also not exactly covered itself with glory while trying to restore some of the gates. It has virtually changed the complexion of Sirhindi Gate which has been restored by it a few years back. Besides shoddy workmanship which belies the era in which murals and even delicate brickwork adorned the gates, the department is also guilty of just creating inner concrete pillars and an arched beam below the original arch structure. This besides narrowing the gate also robs it of its original glory as the concrete pillars do not go well with the original building.

Presently, besides Sirhindi Gate, other gates which are still standing are Sunami Gate, Samania Gate, Tope Khana Gate and Darshani Gate. The gates are a pale shadow of their former self with the Tope Khana Gate and the Sunami Gate being in a precarious condition. The Sunami Gate near Modi College has huge cracks on its facade. The rooms constructed on its first floor are gutted and it is usually smothered with painted advertisements. Though some of these advertisements and posters have been scraped off, nothing has been done to restore the gate structurally since years.

Similarly the Tope Khana Gate is in a poor shape with parts already falling down. Further apathy may well lead to its demolition as was done in the case of other gates of the city which were literally bought down by the people when they became unsafe.

Noted art historian Mohan Singh Kamboj, who has earlier worked as a Director of the Culture and Archives Department, says the historic gates of the city were its t important ingredient when they were constructed by Maharaja Karam Singh.

The gates were wrapped in the culture of the times. Guru Granth Sahib was installed in all the gates with ‘path’ being held at scheduled timings besides ‘kirtan’. Though the ‘Dharmarth Board’ is still enjoined to continue with this practise, unsafe buildings and shortage of staff with no new appointments in decades has resulted in ‘path’ being held at only one or two gates now.

The Patiala Development Authority (PDA) had earlier proposed to complete restoration of one gate before the Heritage Festival by asking a private party to sponsor the restoration work.

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