Restoration of Baba Atal, Frescoes found hidden under bathroom tiles

baA view of the damaged priceless frescoes on the walls of Baba Atal. The building is in the Golden Temple complex.

The heritage experts engaged by the SGPC and the district administration have found priceless frescoes from the first floor of Baba Atal, the tallest building of Amritsar, hidden under bathroom tiles put up by Sikh Babas during previous kar sewa.

The art work is exquisite. t of the art work, hidden during the kar sewa can be retrieved though it requires extra care and expertise. The experts are careful that further damage is not caused while removing marble or bathroom tiles.

Earlier, the SGPC had entrusted kar sewa to the Sikh Babas who had “destroyed” the Sikh heritage, much to the chagrin of experts. Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu today held a meeting with experts in the Golden Temple complex after monitoring the restoration work of Baba Atal and Ramgarhia Bungas.

Earlier, the kar sewa, carried out to repair age-old murals at Gurdwara Baba Atal, had earned flak from heritage lovers. Interior walls of the first floor were adorned with murals depicting Sikh history. About 100 panels of murals had been left on the first floor of the gurdwara, while the rest of them had been destroyed beyond recognition.

Convener of the Ramgarhia Bhaibandi Onkar Singh Sandu said the restoration work at the historical Ramgarhia Bungas and Baba Atal in the Golden Temple complex was in full swing. The DC instructed the experts to ensure that seepage from the building was stopped to minimise damage.

Built by Sikh warriors in 1794, the four-storey Ramgarhia Bungas had been in the possession of Sikh Babas who vacated the heritage site when the DC took up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

During Operation Bluestar in 1984, these Bungas were damaged and later renovated by the SGPC and the Ramgarhia Society. Later, some Babas of Kar Sewawale had done colossal damage to the heritage site by converting a portion into their abode.

The Kar Sewawale babas had allegedly damaged certain portions of the building within the precincts of the Darbar Sahib itself. They had built walls under the arches on the ground floor and fixed doors to convert verandahs into rooms. The brickwork (Nanakshahi bricks) had been plastered and painted at many places. Due to hindered ventilation, there is seepage in the basement of the Bunga, which can damage the building.

While constructing the Bunga, care was taken to provide natural light and ventilation through ventilators, which open in the path around the sarovar of the Harmandar Sahib on one side and in the well dug on the other side.

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