AMRITSAR SAHIB, Punjab—Gobindgarh Fort, the historical monument in Amritsar Sahib, belonging to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, opened to the public as a tourist site two weeks ago, amidst much pump and fanfare as it was revealed that a theme park has been created on-site.
Almost 10 years ago, ex-PM Manmohan Singh handed over state ownership of the site, a designated protected monument site, to the Punjab government so that it may be restored under their responsibility. The Badal government outsourced the site to a private firm named Mayanagri One Private Limited, owned by a Bollywood actress, Deepa Sahi, and given authority to commence works, and share profits from the theme park with the state.
The fort was opened, to the dismay of historians and researchers, who argued that converting the fort into a theme park flouts the rules of the Archaeological Survey of India. According to the conservation policy, “A monument or an archaeological site should be subject to minimum – whilst only necessary — interventions in order to maintain its authenticity and integrity.”
Historians were horrified that the original Nanaksahi bricks that comprised the fort walls have now been plastered over. Extra decorative items such as fountains, colouring, displays kept no significant relation to the atmosphere of the original build.
The works only began around four months ago that, complainants say, was simply to win public points before the upcoming state elections next month.