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Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

Bathinda’s Gobindgarh Fort crumbling, poses threat to visitors

Popularly known as Quila Mubarak, considered as the oldest surviving fort in the country, it is believed to be the place where Razia Sultana, the only woman emperor to rule Delhi, was imprisoned by Malik Altunia, the then governor and her husband.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 06, 2019 12:03 IST
Vishal Joshi
Vishal Joshi
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
The damaged portion of the outer wall of Quila Mubarak in Bathinda.
The damaged portion of the outer wall of Quila Mubarak in Bathinda.(Sanjeev Kumar / HT Photo )
         

The 1,500-year-old Bathinda or Gobindgarh Fort is crumbling to a slow death as authorities have failed to preserve it. The upper part of Rani Mahal, a key area of this fort, has gone to pieces. There are 32 bastions and several of them have crashed in the absence of restoration activities.

Popularly known as Quila Mubarak, considered as the oldest surviving fort in the country, it is believed to be the place where Razia Sultana, the only woman emperor to rule Delhi, was imprisoned by Malik Altunia, the then governor and her husband.

The roof of Rani Mahal, with its beautiful murals, collapsed after rain a few years ago and outer walls have been eroding extensively during every monsoon.

Under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), this monument is considered to have a shared legacy. It was built by Raja Dab in the sixth century AD as a defence measure against the invading Huns. The fort was visited by the tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh in 1705. To mark this event, two gurdwaras were built inside the fort, including one built by Karam Singh, the erstwhile ruler of Patiala.

As hundreds of pilgrims arrive every week to pay obeisance at the twin gurdwaras in the fort compound, the crumbling structure poses a threat to the visitors.

A view of the dilapidated Rani Mahal and the decaying murals on the roof of the once splendid chambers in Bathinda.
A view of the dilapidated Rani Mahal and the decaying murals on the roof of the once splendid chambers in Bathinda. ( Sanjeev Kumar / HT Photo )

Conservation assistant (CA) at Bathinda Fort, archaeological survey of India, Tarak Singh told HT that work to restore the Rani Mahal was delayed due to tendering process to hire labourers for the renovation work. He said higher authorities have been informed and restoration work is expected to begin soon.

“The monument is made of mud bricks and with rain, the exposed parts erode, thus posing threat to the monument,” said Singh, in-charge of the heritage building. He said the fort was essentially a military outpost used by rulers in different times.

“It is popularly believed that a river used to flow in the ancient period through modern Bathinda city. Since the fort was located very strategically, rulers used and conserved the fort for their armies. However, alteration in the basic design of this mud fort was not possible and it has made the structure vulnerable to deteriorate with the passage of time,” he added.