Apathy takes toll on heritage sites


frescoesThe Archeological Survey of India (ASI), displaying an apathetic attitude, has converted some portions of a protected national monument of Akbar's time in this historical town into a dwelling unit for its employees, who have been deputed caretakers.

The tomb of Shamsher Khan, an administrator (karori) of Batala during the reign of Akbar, and Jal Mahal, were taken over by the ASI for repairing the outer walls of these two monuments.

The hoarding put up by ASI reads: "Shamsher Khan, a eunuch and karori of Batala, was buried in this monument during Akbar's time. He was a Faujdar of Manikpur".

The ASI notice further says: "This monument has been declared to be of national importance under the ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. Whosoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces, imperils or misuses this monument, will be punished with imprisonment and fine".

Flouting its own rules, the ASI has damaged priceless frescoes of the heritage buildings while carrying out renovation work.

Other heritage buildings relating to Maharaja Sher Singh also cry for attention as plaster from their walls has peeled off at many places. A heritage building in Baring Union Christian College also needs repair.

Batala was once home to nearly 14 monuments of religious and historical importance. Of these, five were ques, two temples and two gurdwaras. Besides, three monuments were connected with Sikh history and two with the Mughal period.

The palaces of Maharaja Sher Singh and Jal Mahal were built during the reign of Maharaja Sher Singh (1780-1839). The water reservoir was built by Shamsher Khan, while the beautiful Baradari in the centre of the tank was constructed by Maharaja Sher Singh.

In an endeavour to beautify the tomb, the local municipal corporation has laid a park around it. The corporation has put up a notice disallowing eatables in the garden but many visitors are seen ignoring the instruction.

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