The three storied building constructed over a platform near the banks of the Rajasthan Canal and Sirhind Feeder on the GT Road was designed by. H S Chopra, Senior Architect Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana, under the guidance of Dr. MS Randhawa, the then Vice Chancellor who was also the Chairman of the Ferozeshah Memorial Committee set up by the Punjab Government.
The entry fee to the memorial is Rs.10 fixed by the Punjab State Museum and one Guide is posted there to explain in brief he history of the wars and memorials to the visitors.
It was afternoon and Sundar Lal, Guide the only employee posted here was happy to see me, who was sitting under the tree along with two security guards. On my enquiry about the number of visitors, they said with a noiseless smile, ?Today, you are the first to come. Hardly anybody comes to this place?. There is no maintenance of this memorial which could attract the visitors. It would be better if the special provision in the budget to maintain these memorials is kept to attract the visitors?.
In the hall on the ground floor weapons relating to the period of the Anglo Sikh War are displayed. Quotes from WARS of Shah Mohammad and Cunningham?s History of the Sikhs are inscribed in Bronze. The Weapons have been donated by the Punjab Government from the Museum at Patiala. The hall has four paintings depicting the four battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah Sabhraon and Chellianwala. Kirpal Singh a renowned artist prepared these paintings.
In nut-shell, the only Anglo-Sikh War Museum at Ferozeshah, 20 km from here, is in a state of neglect and seems to have been confined to history. There is no gardener or chowkidar in the complex and is being looked after by the round the clock security guards and on working days, the Guide is available.From the outlook of the building, it seems that it has not been white-washed or painted since its erection.
The iron tripod bearing plaques that announce the mute testimony to the Anglo-Sikh wars fought at Ferozeshah, Sabraon, Misriwala and Mudki has rusted and authorities have not bothered to replace it and are beyond recognition. Written in Punjabi, Hindi and English, it is a dedication of the museum to the nation by the late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Giani Zail Singh, on April 11, 1976.
Recently, Rs.85 lakh was spent last year by the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) on its renovation under a Centrally-funded scheme for ?revitalisation? of Anglo-Sikh battle sites in the state. The work was undertaken by Lime Centre, New Delhi . But the Caf? constructed in one of the corner is yet to start.
The Anglo-Sikh War Museum are under the administrative control of the Department of Cultural Affairs but inadequacy of maintenance funds, shortage of staff, and lack of basic amenities are cited among the reasons for its neglect.
Flash lights to focus the paintings, broken glass panes, grown-up grass in the complex, speaks the sad tale of SAD government and have turned the artistically designed double-storey memorial into stony worthless land. The foundation stone, too tells the official insensibility towards the building located on the national highway of Ludhiana-Ferozepur.
The guide also brought to my notice that some rare artifacts, including weapons, were stolen from the museum a few years ago. These have not been recovered thus far, though a police case was registered. Even the paintings of Sir Charles were damaged by one of the visitor agitated over the British rule in India.
The thick vegetative growth around the memorial building in the centre of 4.5 acre complex gives a deserted look. The fountains too had become abnormal in function and cannons on display at the entrance rested on decaying wooden amounts and broken wheels.
In fact, every article in the memorial ? paintings of the main characters related to the two sides of the war -Maharani Jinda, Sham Singh Attariwala, Faquir Azizudin, Dewan Mool Chand, Lord Hardinge, Lord Gough and Lord Dalhousie besides battle scenes, are not now increasing the beauty of the walls of the museum and hardly attract a visitor and broken and outdated furniture in the hall, too speaks its own story to the visitors.
Almost all paintings on display have been done by Kirpal Singh and Devinder Singh. The artifacts on display, including some weapons of historical importance, too are in need of proper care.
There is a need for a compact plan for the upkeep of museums and memorials, to attract more visitors and they get an informative glimpses of the history and rich heritage of the state in general and Sikhs in particulars besides arranging guided tours of the museum of the students of nearly towns. It could only be possible, if proper attention, budget provisions to maintain these memorials find a special place in the annual plans.
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