Historic places an image of neglect in Gujranwala

GUJRANWALA: Gujranwala is the birthplace of two iconic personalities: Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and General Hari Singh Nalwa.

The two personalities had a political and military history of the subcontinent. It is evident from the old buildings and available architectures and places of worship that the city had a large population of Sikhs, Jains, Hindus and Muslims. This city was the center of activities during and after the era of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. There are six most popular buildings from the Sikh era, including Aatma Ram Ji and Samadhi by Charat Singh, Sheranwala Bagh (built by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh), Samadhi Maha Singh (father of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh), Jain Temple, Haveli Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and Samadhi of Charat Singh. Although these structures have already been declared Special Premises under the Special Premises Ordinance by the Department of Youth, Sports, Archeology and Tourism (YASAT), they are nevertheless in an advanced state of disrepair. .

Aatma Ram Ji’s building is believed to be his birthplace. There is also the Samadhi of Charat Singh (eldest son of Naudh Singh and father of Maha Singh) in the building. Since Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was a secular ruler, he had built a Mandir (Hindu temple) inside the courtyard. The building is currently used by the DSP (Enquête) as its office. The whole area is 2.11 kanal with an existing perimeter wall and is surrounded by buildings. Sheranwala Bagh was built by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. The historic garden is called Sheranwala Bagh because of the Akharras of Pehalwans. There is also a Bara Dari in the middle of the garden. The garden is linked to the Samadhi of Maha Singh, which was encroached on by land grabbers.

A public school was also built on the deteriorated land of Samadhi, posing a threat to the structure and the students of the school. Some land grabbers have used the place as a storage place to store oil and paint-related chemicals. Inside Samadhi, there were once beautiful paintings carved on the walls, which have now been damaged due to misuse by land grabbers.

Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s Haveli is located inside the city near the fish market. The dilapidated Haveli is proof of the administration’s negligence and demands immediate attention from the authorities. The original soil has disappeared. Construction efforts for the restoration have degraded parts of the Haveli, but a considerable part is still intact, which includes arches and a courtyard.

Another neglect site is Mandir Bahampr-e-Walla. Half of its part has collapsed and the rest of the structure is used for commercial activities by illegal occupants.

The new deputy commissioner made a detailed tour of these historic places about a week ago and expressed his displeasure with the poor state of the national heritage and ordered the immediate cleaning of the premises. He asked AC Noshera Virkan to send a summary to the Chief Secretary of Punjab, asking him to allocate the budget for the restoration and renovation of historic sites. The DC also ordered the immediate removal of all illegal occupants from the sites and asked the tehsildar to provide full details of the sites to AC Noshera Virkan. The deputy commissioner stressed that all of these sites have immense potential for religious tourism and could generate huge revenues for the government. Meanwhile, on DC’s instructions, all illegal occupants are driven from historic sites and the Samadhi cleared of chemicals stored there.


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Patrick F. Williams

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