Cold comfort at Golden Temple

GtDespite world-wide criticism from Panthic circles, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has installed two air-conditioners (4 tonnes each), one in sanctum sanctorum and the other on the first floor of the Golden Temple.

The conservationists are of the view that air-conditioning will cause colossal “structural damage” to the ancient holy structure of the Darbar Sahib.They said the devotees visited the Darbar Sahib for spiritual solace and not for physical comforts and, hence, they (devotees) had never made any such demand till date. Conservationists are of the view that the walls of the Harmander Sahib are made of burnt bricks and lime mortar and, hence, there was no need to install ACs.

The senior SGPC officials, including Harbhajan Singh, manager, Darbar Sahib, confirmed the installation of ACs in the sanctum sanctorum. The SGPC had formed a sub-committee to look into the effects of the ACs to the ancient structure when its move had received flak from the Sikh sangat the world over.

The move to install the ACs was dropped for a few months when renowned conservationist Gurmit Rai and other Sikh scholars had warned that the air-conditioning system, if introduced in the Darbar Sahib, would be an extremely destructive intervention. Sounding a note of warning, she had stated that the air-conditioning system comprised a blower and a compressor and, hence, while the blower would need to be placed on the floor or mounted on the walls inside the building, the compressor would need to be fixed outside.

These blowers could not be mounted on the walls or the roof without damaging the structure and decorations because of drilling holes or inserting mounting system, she had warned.

Veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta described the SGPC decision to install ACs as “ill-conceived”.

The roofing system too is a masonry vaults. The surfaces are extremely decorative, with in-layed marble panel, frescoes or clad with gilded copper embossed sheets. Not even a square inch of plain space can be found on the walls and ceilings to place the ACs without damaging the original structure and decorations.

Decorations will also be at risk due to the variation in the micro climate zones (in temperature and humidity) that will be created inside the building as the doors have to be kept open.

It may be recalled that the SGPC had decided to engage the services of consultants to install ACs in the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmander Sahib, apart from installing security cameras and mobile jammers on the shrine premises in April last year. A decision regarding this was taken at a meeting of the sub-committee, chaired by Raghujit Singh Virk, senior vice-president, SGPC. It is learnt that Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the Chief Minister of Punjab, has been taking a keen interest in installing modern gadgets in the Golden Temple complex.

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