In defence of the rich legacy of Kapurthala

In Chandigarh on a personal visit, he spoke about the lost legacy of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh who enriched Kapurthala with master craft in the form of heritage sites including the finely built Jagatjit Palace. In a state of utter neglect, the Palace with French architecture now houses the Sainik School and is being restored by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Concerned about the slow pace of progress on the restoration front, Shatrujit Singh listed several heritage buildings demanding urgent attention. And though he admitted to the differences of opinion he has with his father Maharaja Brig Sukhjit Singh (retd) of Kapurthala, he added that the same did not deter him from responding to his concerns as an inheritor to the royal legacy.

'There may be rumours about my relationship with my father, but that does not change my antecedents. The fact is that I belong to the royal family and I feel responsible for the decaying and degenerating heritage sites like the Gol Kothi, the Moorish que, the Jalaukhand Fort and others,' he said, informing The Tribune that the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh Trust recently wrote to the Punjab Chief Minister apprising him of the sorry state of heritage in Kapurthala.

'I have been fighting to restore the Jalaukhand Fort for several years now. I am fighting 67 litigants who are bent upon ruining the historic site which used to be the venue for all festivity during the times of the Maharaja,' he said, drawing one's attention towards Mai Maharani Temple which had been especially built for the women of the royal family.

'The Jalaukhand Fort was captured by Baba Jassa Singh in 1762. It stands at the heart of Kapurthala's heritage, also featuring the Moorish que which I can get restored with the help of Moroccon experts,' he said. Other buildings on Shatrujit's list are Darbari Hall, Shalimar Bagh and Gol Kothi which has virtually crumbled.
About floating a trust separate from his father's, Shatrujit said he differed from his father in the matter of perspective. Incidentally, Brig Sukhjit Singh (retd) has been supporting the annual heritage festivals held in Kapurthala every October in the memory of Sikh warrior Baba Jassa Singh. Shatrujit Singh, however, has not been a part of this festival as he hosts a separate one to commemorate the birth anniversary of Jassa Singh. He explains, 'Baba Jassa Singh was a warrior who never had time for classical music which largely forms a part of the Kapurthala heritage festival. I hold a keertan darbar in his memory.'

Meanwhile, Shatrujit Singh is also looking for research scholars to get the Sikh history documented. His political involvement also continues though he does not declare which part he favours as of today. 'I am with anyone who favours development,' he says rather diplomatically, reiterating his promise to help restore Kapurthala's historical legacy.

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