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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

New life for old Kapurthala buildings

Sanjeev Bhalla , Hindustan Times  Kapurthala, November 12, 2013
First Published: 19:39 IST(12/11/2013) | Last Updated: 19:40 IST(12/11/2013)

Residents have welcomed the proposed renovation of some of the historical buildings in the city, including Moorish Mosque and Durbar Hall, the project for which has already been initiated.

"It is good that the old buildings in the city are going to get a new face, as after they are renovated, even the younger generation, which is not aware about the existence and relevance of these buildings, would be proud of them," said Varinder Ghuliani, a local businessman.

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The project

A team of archaeological consultants to the state government, headed by conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah and Brigadier Sukhjit Singh, the present head of the royal family, visited Moorish Mosque and Durbar Hall on Saturday to begin the survey. They would prepare a detailed project report (DPR) under a Rs. 55-crore project approved on the recommendations of the 13th finance commission.

Talking to HT, Lambah said, "After the survey, we would submit the DPR to the state archaeology department for action."

"The team would start a full-fledged survey of the Durbar Hall in the administrative complex and Moorish Mosque, and would assess the material used for construction, its architecture, layout and other interiors in great detail," deputy commissioner Daljit Singh Mangat said.

"Under the two-year restoration project, the lost glory of these buildings would be restored," Mangat claimed.

Durbar Hall

The Durbar Hall was, at one time, the court of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, the last ruler of Kapurthala and the creator of the building. He used to receive the people of his kingdom, listen to his woes and render justice in this majestic building. The king's annual birthday celebrations and other state rituals and ceremonies were also held here.

Till two years ago, it housed the office of the audit branch of the northern division of the postal and telegraph department, but was declared unsafe and vacated for restoration due to its deteriorating conditions.

Moorish Mosque

The Moorish Mosque, built by French architect Monsieur M Manteaux, is the replica of the grand mosque of Marakesh in Morocco. It was commissioned by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, and was built over 13 years between 1917 and 1930, at a cost of Rs. 4,00,000.

Presently, it is in a dilapidated condition, with wild grass covering the open areas behind the mosque and the gardens in a neglected state.

Renovation was last done when former president APJ Abdul Kalam offered namaaz here during his visit to the state in 2003.

"We would soon provide details of the layouts sought by the survey team. People would be able to watch the restoration process soon," Mangat claimed.

"Besides these buildings, a study on other buildings has been submitted to the departments concerned as well," he added.

Cautios note

However, local trader Madan Lal said, "This is not the first time that a team has surveyed the buildings. Surveys and talks of renovation have been done many times, but no action has been taken so far, and the same thing will happen again."

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