Residences of royals re-opened to public

The "walk" is the idea of Mr Debashish Nayak who has pioneered other such walks in Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, is targeted at spreading awareness about the city amongst its people and also "connecting" them to it. Before the formal inauguration of the walk in the afternoon, students of the Department of Punjab History were trained to act as guides during the Heritage Festival. The walk will be held twice a day at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.

Mr Nayak says the idea of the walk germinated from a survey among the people of the city. It was found that t of the younger generation had not seen the Qila. "This experience has been seen in other places also as the local people feel they can see their own home monuments anytime. That time usually never comes", he said.

About the manner in which he has initiated heritage walks in other cities, Mr Nayak says he first tries to know the city street by street. "I have been doing that in Patiala for a number of days. Once this is done, I try to understand how much of the old city is still left and trying to make a route which an outsider can understand easily pursue".
The conservationist’s Patiala experience has however been somewhat different. "A walk should be over in around two and a half hours. It was felt that taking people around the Qila Mubarak complex itself would take that much time. Because of this it has been decided to conduct a walk of the Qila Mubarak complex only during this year’s heritage festival".

However, the Heritage Society has earmarked other walks also, according to Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon. He said it was proposed to earmark another walk of the major monuments. This walk would take the Shahi Samadan (royal cremation ground), Mohindra College, Old Moti Bagh and Sheesh Mahal circuit. A third walk has also been planned. This will cover the inner city starting from Kasaran Wale Chowk to Chhata Nanu Mal (a haveli) and the streets around it which still have corrugated metal balconies and in which the architecture of the old city has been still partially retained.

The present walk which has been thrown open to the public starts from the seat of Baba Ala, the founder of the Patiala royal house inside the Qila Androon gate, to the ‘masnad’ (an exquisitely painted chamber) and Sheesh Mahal following which it showcases the Putlighar (where puppet shows used to be held) to Bagichi Ghar (a courtyard with palm trees and a fountain network) and going on to Florence Mahal (built for a European rani by a Maharaja) and finally the "dhunni" (smouldering fire) which is placed on the top of the Qila and has been burning for more than 200 years.

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