Five historical gates (darwazas) — that are among the many unique heritage structures in Bhopal — will soon regain their lost grandeur with the state directorate of archaeology working out a repair and restoration plan for them.
The restoration work is likely to start within a month, commissioner of archaeology, archives and museums, Ajatshatru told HT.
The gates that have been included in this plan are: the Lal Darwaza near Model Ground, the Military (Regiment) Gate that is the entrance to the Sultania Infantry settlement, the Islami Gate at Shahjehanabad, the Dakhil Darwaza of the Taj Mahal and the Gate of Bagh Farhat Afza.
"The plans have been approved and we have already issued tenders for the restoration work," deputy director (technical) of archaeology GK Mitra told HT.
According to historical records, the first three gates are the entrances to the walled Shahjehabad area constructed by erstwhile Bhopal ruler Shahjehan Begum (reigned 1868-1901).
Bagh Farhat Afza was constructed by her mother Sikander Jehan Begum, who ruled from 1844 to 1868.
This makes the Bagh Farhat Afza gate almost 150 years old.
Over the years, mainly due to lack of maintenance, encroachments and vagaries of nature, the once magnificent gates have lost their sheen.
Though the basic structures are quite solid, their facades have started crumbling, experts say.
HT has in the past done a series of reports on the pathetic condition of the gates.
Experts have welcomed the decision of the directorate to repair and restore the gates but have also issued a word of caution about not altering the originality of the heritage structures.
Author of photo-documentation 'Royal Journey of Bhopal' Syed Akhtar Husain said it was high time the sentinels of the capital's past were paid some attention.
"It's a most awaited decision, but I hope they are careful not to play with the original design and shape of the gates and just bring them back to their old form," he said.
Savita Raje, head of department of architecture of School of Planning and Architecture and president of non-governmental organisation Living Heritage Alliance, said the most important thing about restoration was to retain the old-world charm of the structure and internally strengthen it with minimal external changes.
"I also hope they do some work on the Jumerati Gate - the oldest surviving gate of Bhopal - that was built by the founder of Bhopal Nawab dynasty Dost Mohammad Khan about 300 years ago," she added.