A portion of the damaged gold-plating inside the shrine
The SGPC is likely to launch restoration work of the interiors of Sri Harmandar Sahib soon and has roped in a private firm with expertise in the field. It had earlier planned to entrust the job to Baba Kashmir Singh Bhuriwale, a move that was resented by heritage lovers.
SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk said they had hired the services of a Delhi-based firm that has expertise in restoration of heritage buildings. The restoration work will be monitored by National Museum former director SP Singh.
The work, which was to start in mid-August, got delayed following concerns from several quarters about the SGPC move to hand it over to ‘Kar Sewawale Baba’.
Virk also said the restoration work could start anytime. The experts have already ordered the material required for it, including the colours used in the artwork. These colours are being imported from abroad.
The restoration work will start with the artwork for which an area of one square foot will be taken up on an experimental basis. First, an attempt will be made to resurrect the artwork by cleaning it up with certain chemicals while new colours will be used, only if needed.
The experts will take forward their work on the basis of their initial experience. The restoration of artwork will start from the upper floor of Sri Harmandar Sahib. The work for the upkeep of gold-plating will start at a later stage. Virk clarified there will be no tampering with the heritage character of the holy shrine and all efforts will be made to preserve its originality.
The gold-plating inside the shrine has turned black apparently due to rising pollution while at a few places it is peeling off the walls. Similarly, the artwork on the upper floor has also suffered damage at various spots, particularly along the staircases leading to the top floor. Earlier, the SGPC had put up glass over the artwork on the upper floor, as a result of which seepage has taken a toll on it.
When launched, it would be the first ever ‘kar sewa’ on the interiors of the shrine. The gold-plating and the artwork inside the Golden Temple dates to the Maharaja Ranjeet Singh era. The interiors of Sri Harmandar Sahib boast of rare architecture comprising ‘mohrakashi’, ‘tukri’ and ‘gach’ work.
According to sources, gold-plating inside the shrine has suffered damage up to 40 per cent, mostly around the arches of the doors. However, out of this damaged area, gold-plating on only 15 per cent is required to be completely replaced while the rest will need only gold work.
The restoration of artwork will start from the upper floor of Sri Harmandar Sahib
An area of one square foot will be taken up on an experimental basis
First, an attempt will be made to resurrect the artwork by cleaning it up with certain chemicals while new colours will be used, only if needed Work for the upkeep of gold-plating will start at a later stage.
Perneet Singh/TNS, Amritsar, November 14