More damage to fresco near Golden Temple

Amritsar, Punjab: The rare fresco that adorns the ‘samadh’ in front of the Golden Temple’s main entrance has suffered further damage as the authorities and its caretakers have failed to initiate any steps for its conservation.

The ongoing construction work of the Golden Temple entrance plaza — a state government project that started in October 2011 — has also done it no good.

The sides of the wall painting showing the first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev, his two disciples — Bala and Mardana — playing the ‘rabab’ along with his two sons Sri Chand and Laxmi Chand have peeled off.

“It’s really unfortunate and careless on the part of the district administration which should have taken immediate steps to preserve it with the support of the caretakers when the matter was highlighted last year,” said Rajneesh Khosla, a heritage lover and a preserver of centuries-old rare manuscripts.

The administration had shown interest and the caretakers had promised to fund the conservation initially when the matter was highlighted . A team from the Tourism and Culture Department had also visited the spot and found the fresco in a “conservable” condition at that time.

The ‘samadh’ belongs to the Mahant Tehal Dass Akhara, one of the 12 akharas situated around the Darbar Sahib. Giving details about the fresco, Khosla said it had been made from natural colours.

Mahant Nihal Dass, the present head of the akhara, said the foundation stone of the akhara was laid by Baba Sri Chand, the elder son of Guru Nanak Dev. Similar frescos were present inside the dome of the ‘samadh’, but with the passage of time, these got destroyed.

He said that they were ready to fund the conservation of the rare fresco, but he claimed that the Tourism Department team did not pay the site a revisit. He also expressed the apprehension that after conservation, the district administration would take over the ‘samadh’. He said he was ready to take the help of conservation experts for its preservation. “The painting would be ruined beyond repair if no concrete steps are immediately taken by the authorities to preserve it,” said Khosla, seeking the intervention of the district administration in the matter. Dr Balvinder Singh, Conservation Spatial Planner, Guru Nanak Dev University, said that the damage to the fresco cannot be undone. However, it could be saved from damage with the help of latest techniques.

DC Ravi Bhagat said, “As the painting is a private property of the akhara, we cannot do much without the consent of the caretakers of the akhara. But if they want any help, we are ready for it.” He said he would ask the Tourism and Culture Department to contact the caretakers in this regard.

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