ASI finds fault with Kapurthala palace restoration

 The ongoing conservation work of the famous Jagatjit Palace of Kapurthala has come under a cloud as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has raised serious objections to the manner in which the project is being carried out.
The ASI objections, raised in a confidential report submitted to the Government of India, is that a tinge of modernity is being added to the original work and the material used in the palace is destroying its originality.

However, the agency which is undertaking the conservation work claims that everything is being done as per the standard set for such conservation works.

Jagatjit Palace, built in 1906 by the then king of Kapurthala, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, is inspired from the Palace of Versailles and is considered to be a classic example of French architecture. It also houses the Sainik School, Kapurthala.

With the original structure under severe stress, the restoration of the Palace was decided to be undertaken by the Indian National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi, at a cost of Rs 1.96 crore. Alt 40 per cent of the work has been completed, with the remaining scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008.

The project is a joint collaboration of Government of India and the government of Punjab.

According to highly-placed sources in the INTACH, the ASI has sent a report to the Union government, saying therein that the originality of the palace’s architecture was being compromised.

Sources added that a Delhi-based contractor is getting the work done, even though an expert in the job of restoration of historical buildings is required for it.

INTACH sources said on the ground floor, where the floor was damaged, modern tiles are being installed, instead of tiles of that era.

Also, they claim that instead of restoring the old, damaged walls of the original structure, new cemented walls are being constructed parallel to old walls. They also allege that as part of the restoration work, instead of using lead sheets, aluminum sheets would be used near the dome of the palace. The ASI has also informed the government that a number of changes are being effected in the palace.

When contacted, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner J.M. Balamurgan said everything was being got done by INTACH as per norms of restoration work.

However, when contacted INTACH chairman S.K. Mishra claimed that everything was being done according to the original architecture and material of the palace. When asked whether the contractor given the restoration work was an expert in restoration of historical buildings, Mishra said he had no idea about the contractor. However, he quickly added that the contractor “must be an expert”, which is why he had been engaged for the work.

Leave a Reply