The government has finally declared Gole Mahal, situated at Hazuri Bagh in Talab Tillo, a heritage site. The building is spread over five kanals and 17 marlas. The order was issued on Wednesday on the recommendation of the Jammu and Kashmir Heritage Authority.
The government order was issued after the land mafia, in a bid to take over the land, had tried to dismantle the building after which a probe was ordered on the complaint of the locals.
A property dealer had tried to dismantle the main big-arched gate of the 150-year-old monument, built by then maharaja Partap Singh, and its eastern and western gates along with a three-floor staircase and brick tower allegedly by bulldozers and cranes.
Kartar Singh, a local resident, had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the high court for its protection after an attempt was made to raze it. The court had issued notices to the state government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), directing them to ensure that the status quo was maintained.
State archaeology and museum department deputy director Mohmmad Ashraf had then directed the administration to stop the dismantling of the monument after locals complained about it.
A three-member panel, headed by the then additional deputy commissioner, Rehana Batool, had in 2011 filed a report with the recommendation that the monument be declared a protected site. Set in a mango orchard in the city's Hazuri Bagh area, Gole Mahal is famous for its round-shaped lotus-look. It also housed the jail where former chief minister Sheikh Abdullah was detained for a while during emergency.