Duleep Singh memorial opened to public
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal opened to the public for the first time a 200-year-old heritage monument — the memorial of Maharaja Duleep Singh — also known as the ‘Bassian Kothi’ at Bassian village near Raikot on Sunday after it underwent a restoration process for over four years that cost the state government more than `5 crore.
The restoration began in 2011 and the government had roped in the Indian National Trust and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) group and the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) for the purpose.
Before 2011, the memorial was in a shambles and the irrigation department, which had its charge, even planned to auction it. However, thanks to former Punjabi Sahit Akademi president Gurbhajan Singh Gill, a noted Punjabi writer, an association – the Maharaja Duleep Singh Trust was formed to ensure the restoration of the monument.
“After we formed the trust, we could take up the issue with the chief minister. He visited the monument in April 2011 and assured is that the monument would be restored. With this inauguration, he has kept his word,” said Gill, the chairman of the Trust.
At the event, Badal lauded the trust for caring about the state’s heritage and bringing it to his notice. “We should be proud of our heritage and the government is working on several other historical projects too and these will also be thrown open,” the CM added.
PHTPB additional chief executive officer Navjotpal Singh Randhawa said details on the memorial would soon be uploaded on the board’s website. “We will prepare special brochures and get in marked on the state’s map and will market it with tour operators so that tourists from the across the world can access this historical memorial,” he said.
A part of the memorial has also been turned into a museum where rare pictures of the Maharaja’s life are on display. An open air theatre, interpretation centre on his life and parks have been added in about 13 acres (around 5.7 lakh square foot).
At the event, tourism and cultural affairs minister Sohan Singh Thandal, Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjeet Singh Atwal, irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and other political leaders were present. Hundreds of villagers were also present.