NRI offers help to save national monument

Mr Chahal, a former resident of old Bathinda district and who got his primary education from this area, visited India and this town from the USA after about 30 years in February, 2004. He was shocked to see the plight of Gobind Fort, which houses a historical gurdwara also. He again visited this town in April and July and decided to do something for the fort.

In the letters sent to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India, and the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Mr Chahal, who is credited with 45 years of experience in civil engineering and execution of various mega projects in the USA, India and other countries, including the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, offered that he, with the cooperation of non-profit organisations, would restore, repair, maintain and preserve the Bathinda fort at no cost to the Governments of India and Punjab.

He added that his plan included the development of a tourist attraction under an agreement for a certain period and he along with non-profit organisations would make the local fort as one of the best preserved frontier forts of ancient times of India.

He pointed out that on his personal examination, it came to his notice that the fort structure and outside walls were deteriorating at a much faster rate than the rate at which the repairs of the same were going on. He added that during rainy season, the fort had been suffering huge damage. He said that it was estimated that major repairs could be performed within a five-year period while restoring other portions of the fort and developing tourist attraction.

Mr KAP Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, while confirming the fact that Mr Chahal had made an offer to preserve the fort, said that he had recommended his proposal to the Punjab and Central Governments.

Known as Gobind Fort, the local fort has been visited by three holy people as per the findings made by Mr Chahal. Baba Haji Rattan (Peer and ambassador of Raja Bhoj) visited the fort in 1045 AD, Guru Nanak Dev in 1505 AD and Guru Gobind Singh in 1705 AD.

The fort has withstood attacks from Sultan Mahmud Ghazni in 1004 AD, who later besieged it and then Mohammad Ghauri attacked it in 1189 and occupied it. Prithvi Raj Chauhan, the illustrious ruler of this region, recovered its possession 13 months later after a fierce battle. It is said that Rao Bhatti, a Rajput king, established the modern town of Bathinda around the fort, which is believed to be built by Raja Dab, an ancestor of celebrated king Vinay Paul.

Though Gobind Fort survived attacks of various rulers, it has started collapsing due to the apathetic attitude of the authorities concerned. The locals and people from other areas, who have been visiting it, always returned disappointed after seeing its plight.

A portion of Rani Mahal, where Razia Sultan, the first woman ruler of India, was imprisoned in 1240 A. D. by the then Governor, Mohammad Altunia, a corner in its north-western side, 18 out of total 36 bastions and the entire parapet of its 120 feet high walls and a large portion of its walls have collapsed. A few years ago, people were not allowed to enter into the fort as it started posing danger despite the fact that it is a national protected monument.

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