Kapurthala: While around two lakh people visited neighboring Sultanpur Lodhi every month due to its religious significance, Kapurthala, despite its rich architectural heritage, was yet to get a remarkable response from tourists. The erstwhile state had earned the sobriquet of ‘Paris of Punjab’ because of its palaces and villas, most of which were designed by French architects.
As in the case of most such heritage buildings elsewhere in the state and country, here, too, many of them were in dilapidated state, and wherever restoration work was on, it was not free from controversies and criticism.INTACH, for instance, was currently doing restoration work at Jagatjit Palace and planned to send a proposal to the state government regarding conserving the Moorish mosque, a national monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Chairman of Kapurthala Trust Brig (retd) Sukhjit Singh, grandson of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, was not too happy the way heritage was being treated here. For him, heritage did not mean exchanging old lamps for new ones.
He cited the example of Gurdwara Ber Sahib, a historical shrine in the vicinity that was completely renovated, leaving no traces of the legacy of Sikh gurus. “Converting one of the palaces to a luxury hotel is not feasible till the time we do not have infrastructure such as good roads and transportation and, of course, spruced up tourist sites. The bureaucratic system is such that it takes too long a time to get proposals passed. Otherwise, there are several suggestions such as converting the circular Buggey Khana into a shopping mall and thereby, preserving precious heritage and turning it into something utilitarian. That could serve a dual purpose.”
The evening saw Punjab government officials enjoy the music along with their drinks. However, many while leaving the venue after the function, stumbled upon empty liquor bottles that were strewn all over the place.