Historic Amritsar Haveli lies neglected

Ram Pal of Rohtak District Transport Cooperation Society Limited, which has its office inside the main gate of the Sarai Sant Ram, said it was believed that the structure was built more than 150 years back as a rest house (sarai) for traders coming to Amritsar.

“At that time, the entire population lived within the walled city and the ‘sarai’, Circuit House and District Courts were the only structures located outside the 12 gates of Amritsar city. It is said traders from adjoining cities used to come to Amritsar, which was a commercial hub, on horses. The horses were provided water from the pond. The traders would stay here for the night and head home early morning,” he said.

“When we shifted here soon after partition, people would tell us that the ‘sarai’ was built by a landlord, Sant Ram. Since he had no heirs, the property was inherited by his accountant who was his namesake. His next two generations kept collecting rent from the shopkeepers for some time but eventually sold off t of the property,” he added.

Those who have their shops inside the “sarai” premises point out that no effort has been made by the district administration to maintain the heritage building, which could have been developed as a window on the past, attracting tourists keen to know more about the holy city.

“This despite the fact that last month, secretary, public relations, tourism and cultural affairs, had declared that on the directions of Hira Singh Gabaria, tourism minister, Punjab, 100-year-old ancient heritage havelis, castles, forts and inns would be converted into hotels and as places of tourist importance. This would not only attract the tourists both from within and outside India but also highlight and depict many aspects of ancient cultural heritage of Punjab. The upward trend in the tourists arrivals would result in a substantial increase in the exchange earnings,” said Puri.

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