Alarmed by attempts to bring down the "Gole Mahal" here, Jammu and Kashmir government has begun the process of declaring the heritage building as a state protected monument and ordered a probe.
Located in Hazuribagh belt of Jammu city, 150-year-old Mahal built by the Dogra kings is one of its kind in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The work to dismantle the heritage monument by some people has been stopped by our team, which visits the prized heritage monument from time to time," Deputy Director, state Archaeology and Museum Department, Mohmmad Ashraf said, adding that they have recommended that the building be declared as protected.
Additional District Development Commissioner (ADDC) Rehana Batool said a probe has been ordered into the issue. "A three-member high-level committee had visited the site and a report is being finalised," she said.
The report would be submitted to the government for further action on its preservation and declaration as state protected monument, she said.
Armed with hammers and shovels, labourers allegedly hired by a builder attempted to dismantle the monument to build flats in Hazuribagh mango tree and flower estate, which was sold by Joyti Singh, grand-daughter of Maharaja Hari Singh, to a business house two decades ago.
The Maharaja had gifted her the estate including the heritage building. "The (dismantling) work has been stopped and we have asked them not to touch the building," the Deputy Director said, adding the action was initiated on the complaints to Divisional Commissioner by locals residents, who wanted the monument to be preserved.
"The official process to declare the monument as state protected has begun and is underway," Ashraf said. He said that damage has been caused to the monument's roof. "We have submitted the report to ADDC for declaring the monument as protected heritage monument under the state government. The monument can be converted into A heritage museum," Ashraf said.
The three-storey heritage building is round in shape and resembles a clock with 12 big pillars and four main entrances. There are Dogri carvings with lotus leaf motifs, paintings, numerous brick designs and hand sketches on its pink plastered walls inside and outside the building.
"It has a big majestically designed central hall and four other halls and kings would use the Gole Mahal as a guest house," Ashraf said.
Sheikh Abdullah, former chief Minister and grand father of present Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and Bakshi Gulam Mohmmad were kept in detention in Gole Mahal besides other top leaders of Jammu and Kashmir during the Emergency.