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Bathinda/ Gobindgarh Fort

Rani Mahal

Neel Kamal, Queen Razia Sultana's story crumbles in Bathinda fort, May 29, 2017: The Times of India

Despite the awe and mys tique associated with Razia Sultana, the only woman ruler of Delhi, the place where she was incarcerated in Bathinda has crumbled under neglect. The upper part of Rani Mahal, a principal part of Bathinda Fort, also known as Gobindgarh Fort, may not stand the test of time much longer, given the state of affairs. The fact that this place was the highlight of the 1,000 year old fort, which is a protected monument maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), has not helped much. The roof, with its beautiful murals, collapsed after the rain some time back.

Three years ago, the ASI prepared an estimate of nearly Rs 5 crore for complete rejuvenation of Rani Mahal and other parts of the fort, including the main entrance gate, inner and outer bastions. This was submitted to the National Culture Fund (NCF), but funds were not released. Since there were no takers for the restoration project worth Rs 5 crore, the ASI reduced the estimate to Rs 2.75 crore to refur bish only the third and fifth floor of the area surrounding Rani Mahal, which was last repaired more than 50 years ago. Over the years, the condition of Rani Mahal has gone from bad to worse, necessitating urgent restoration work.

Even as the murals on the roof decayed, the rickety upper part of the Mahal was supported with wooden logs. Conditions deteriorated to such an extent that the place was closed to tourists long back.

Conservation assistant (CA) at Bathinda Fort, Archaeological Survey of India, Tarak Singh said, “We have revised the earlier estimate by excluding some portions from rejuvenation and have submitted it to the ASI for neces sary repairs. We repaired the central part of the fort over the last four years using only lime mortar,“ he said. Although parts of Bathinda Fort are in a dilapidated condition, the fort, as a whole, has endured for ages. There are no authenticated facts on the date of its construction.

It is also known for its association with Razia Sultana, the first woman ruler of Delhi. Razia, daughter of Iltutmish, was imprisoned here in 1239-40 before her death on October 14, 1240. There is a debate on her place of burial as well but for the people of Punjab, the fort has come alive due to her association with it. In fact, people of Bathinda call the fort the Razia Sultana fort.

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