Patiala fort to regain regal bearing

ADC Patiala, S D Singh Dhillon, says, "It is a fort that is built over more than a century and a half. Deteriorating wall paintings, frescos, murals, those things have to be taken care of separately. Certain structural faults have come out which have to be attended to."

What is glaring in the fort now are the broken chajjas, torn plaster, cemented cracks, crumbling walls and even peeling vegetable dye paintings and engravings.

Jagjit Singh, the Qiledaar, says, "There was seepage from the roof despite the bitumen coating which damaged the paintings.”

The fact that two years back the World Monument Watch included the fort in its list of 100 t endangered heritage sites of the world should serve as a wake up call for agencies like the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Chairman of INTACH, S K Misra, agrees that the monument has been damaged and there is an urgent need for its restoration. "The first part includes the Durbar Hall which has structural damage. Then there are chambers that have damaged paintings which also need to be restored, he says.

A small room outside Durbar Hall has been converted into a heritage laboratory. A sum of Rs 2 crore from the state government and another 1 crore from the World Monument Watch has facilitated work.

But the hard truth is that the reflections of the neglect of the 240 years of this fort’s history can be seen everywhere. And it is only with the news of restoration coming in now that there is a glimmer of hope.

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