Though Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has recently sought conservation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s ancestral house in Pakistan; his birthplace in Sangrur district is in ruins.
Despite lofty promises made by successive state governments over decades, the haveli at village Badrukhan, where the Sher-e-Punjab was born, remains as neglected as ever.
Raj Kaur, mother of Ranjit Singh, belonged to village Badrukhan, and was married to Maha Singh of Gujjranwala (now in Pakistan) in 1774. She gave birth to Ranjit on November 13, 1776 in this haveli (some historians dispute the year of his birth).
The haveli, eight-km from Sangrur, is at present in the possession of a person named Bharat Inder Singh, a resident of Delhi. An old chowkidar guarding the haveli said the members of this family were the descendants of the Maharaja and came here occasionally.
“Sardar ne manha kiya hai andar jane se (the owner has restricted entry into the building). Andar Kuchh nahai sab khandar hai (there’s nothing inside, everything is in ruins),” said Ramu, the chowkidar.
Apart from the new rooms built by the owners and the facade of the haveli, the whole building is in mess. The entrance gate has lost its sheen, the carvings have faded and a portion of the building, which had the room of the Maharaja’s mother, has collapsed.
The arches and jharokhas though still stand as a testimony to the imposing architecture of the historical haveli. Even the room where the Maharaja was born, a burj on the left side of the haveli, is no longer accessible. For safety reasons, the place is out of bounds for visitors.
Punjabi lyricist Bachan Bedil, a resident of village Badrukhan and author of several books on the Maharaja, said it was a shame the way this heritage place had been treated.
“The government should take possession of this haveli and restore it. It should be converted into a museum and should be opened for public,” he said.
“When crores of rupees are being spent on ceremonies to remember a great king then why cannot some money be spent on the restoration work of the haveli? It has not even been accorded the status of a protected monument,” he said.