Friday, 5 August 2011

Trapped Treasure – Rare Sikh artefacts locked and ignored for seven years

It’s treasure that has been locked in a damp room. Much to the chagrin of artists and art connoisseurs, an old building in Patiala is housing historical artefacts, prints, photographs, sketches, rare paintings depicting centuries-old history of Sikh Gurus and accounts of erstwhile princely states of PEPSU.

The archives department was shifted from Rajindra Kothi to its present address once the divisional commissioner’s office in 2004 when the Congress government leased the museum building to Neem Rana Group for setting up a heritage hotel.

In the makeshift museum, there is no space for displaying the rare paintings that are piled on the shelves.

“A number of paintings done with natural colours by renowned Indian and foreign artists -especially Pakistani painters -are losing their sheen. Frames of many paintings have been broken due to poor upkeep,“ said an insider of the archives department.

Among the 450 rare artefacts are: facsimiles of the seals of Lahore Darbar and of treaties between the East India Company and princely states, pictures of soldiers Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh Ahluwalia (1806), Maharaja of Jind Raja Sarup Singh (1857); a sketch of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Hira Singh, photographs of courtier and governors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and a photograph of Viscount Gough, commander-in-chief of the British Army during the first Anglo-sikh war.

The museum also has 14 sketches of Guru Nanak Dev.

Gurpal Kaur, Patiala, Punjab: Hindustan Times, August 2nd, 2011

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