The Bathinda fort, known as Qila Mubarak, which had been the abode of various kings in the past and had witnessed the imprisonment of Razia Sultana, is falling apart and nearing its total collapse with every passing day as the state authorities are not bothering to preserve it.
Out of its 32 bastions, 9 have fallen and vanished completely. The 30-metre high massive fortification with a base width of 16 meters and an unusual slope is crumbling at a number of places. There are various political factors that have hampered the development of 'Qila Mubarak' earlier; however, even now the government has turned a blind eye to this fort.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had tried to get the funds released for its repair, but the funds released were not sufficient for the repair of even one bastion.
"The fort will look like a fort again, only if the central government releases funds on a large scale, and the centre will release funds only if the state government promotes it as a tourist spot and shows some earning from it," says an official of the ASI.
LARGE BUDGET NEEDED
"Recently, the state government had released `25 lakh, but with this amount, we were able to erect only a few meter wall. And if we start to repair the damaged bastions, one bastion needs about `1 crore on its reconstruction, and for nine bastions we need `10 crore," said MC Sharma, an ASI official at Qila Mubarak.
According to sources, a major part of the `1.25-crore grant given by former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was diverted by the present government to a few other projects, including a shooting range at Badal village.
The present government is developing hokey stadiums and other buildings, which are already more than enough, in the city and nearby areas. The government has built three international hockey stadiums within a radius of 50 kms worth crores, but it is not responding to the release of funds for the fort, the sources alleged.
The main attraction of Quila Mubarak Rani Mahal, where queens of kings used to stay, is on the right above the main entrance of the fort. This mahal is about to fall, the master room of the queens has been given the support of big wooden flanks to make it stand. And the roofs and ceilings vibrate every time a person passes over them and can fall anytime.
The estimate of funds for the repair of Rani Mahal sent by fort caretakers about 11 months ago, but funds are still awaited.
"I sent a full report along with drawings and sketches, with an estimate budget of `4 crore for complete repair of Rani Mahal in January, however the authorities concerned have still not replied on this," said Sharma.
"Teams of various organisations have visited the fort from time to time, but nothing has happened and no funds have been released to carry on repairs," said Sharma.
Qila Mubarak, an important outpost en route Lahore during the Mughal period, was built by Raja Dab in 6th century AD on an area of 15 acres as a defence against the invading Huns. Successive rulers made a number of additions and alterations in the fort. Mohammed Ghaznavi captured it in the 11th century after King Jaipal committed suicide. In 1240 AD, Razia, the first woman sultan of Delhi, was kept here as a prisoner by governor of Bhatinda Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia. To escape death, Razia agreed to marry Altunia.