Crumbling away amid state apathy, Manauli fort in Punjab is turning into a dump
The fort has historical significance as Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur clinched this fort after triumphing over Mughal oppression.punjab Updated: Jul 21, 2018 14:56 IST
Notwithstanding the tall claims of the state archaeological department, the Manauli fortress in Punjab, once the glory of the Sikh rule, has been crying for attention. Even though the authorities concerned claimed to have spent more than Rs 1 crore on its maintenance from time to time, the structure monument is gradually turning into a heap of rubble gradually.
Located in the middle of a small village Manauli, about 12km from Chandigarh, the fort has historical significance as Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur clinched this fort after triumphing over Mughal oppression. He later handed over the fort to one of his trusted warriors, Sardar Kapoor Singh.
A monument not much protected
The Punjab government had declared it as a protected monument in 2001 and the fort came under the aegis of Directorate of Cultural Affairs Archaeology and Archives Museum Punjab in 2009.
However, lack of care has led to banyan, palm and neem trees growing inside the fort premises, with a dried up broken fountain surrounded by wild growth turning into a waste dump.
Although the authorities claim they had maintained the fort and also repaired the walking area inside it, falling bricks and broken tiles tell a different story.
“We maintain the fort with whatever resources we have. We face staff as well as fund crunch,” said Prem Chand, consultant and conservation engineer of the archaeological department.
Locals as well as department officials privy to the matter said the renovation of the fort took place last in 2016.
Heritage material conservator Namita Jaspal said, “The archaeological department gives renovation tender to the private contractors who do not use good material. People have taken away bricks from the fort to use them in their own constructions.”
“Although we have assigned a caretaker for the fort, the department lacks funds for its upkeep. The last time we got funds from the state government was during the 13th commission,” said an official of the archaeological department on the condition of anonymity.
A local villager Rattan Singh said, “This fort is our pride but the government has neglected it. If the situation remains the same, this fort will collapse soon.”