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Heritage Gurdwara Baba Atal: Frescoes Regaining Their Former Glory


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Gurdwara Baba Atal: Frescoes regaining their former glory.

The historic Gurdwara Baba Atal in the Golden Temple complex, which had lost precious artwork and frescoes due to unscientific renovations in the past, is on its way to regain its pristine glory with conservation work underway on war footing.

The work is being carried out by the Noida-based Heritage Conservation Management Services (HCMS), roped in by the district administration, along with the SGPC. The gold work in the sanctum sanctorum has been completed and it is ready to be handed over to the SGPC, while ‘gachkari’ (traditional art conservation work) and mirror work on the roof of the ground floor is under progress.

Artists from Kerala, MP, Orissa and New Delhi are in the city for cleaning and retouching work to be done on frescoes on the first floor of the gurdwara. The building boasts of rare frescoes depicting the scenes from the life of Guru Nanak Dev and his portraits in the form of panels with distinctive borders. Apart from it, there are floral and geometric designs and motifs surrounding the panels.

An internal drainage system is also being laid and a canopy erected around the shrine to ensure that there is no seepage of water as it may cause damage to the structure. The historic gurdwara also had frescoes on its outer walls, but that had been damaged during the dismantling of marble and tiles, which were put up during the kar sewa earlier. HCMS official Rakesh Kumar, who is looking after the project, confirmed that over 90 per cent of the paintings on the exterior walls had got damaged. He said they would now ensure that the artwork was preserved in a way that it could withstand vagaries of weather.

While the HCMS is focusing on the restoration of traditional artwork, the SGPC will be doing the flooring work in and around the building.

Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu said the conservation of Baba Atal hads been a dream project for him and they would make all efforts to revive traditional paintings and artwork in the building as much as possible.

The building’s fabric had witnessed moisture penetration over the years due to unsealed window openings, penetration through hairline cracks in the cement render and washing of the interiors with liberal quantities of water or milk. The structure of Baba Atal had undergone renovation in the past and new, mostly undesirable, materials added on.

Gurdwara Baba Atal is a 40-metre high octagonal tower. It was built in the last quarter of the 18th century to commemorate Atal Rai, son of Guru Hargobind, who died at the age of nine. The tower has nine storeys one for each year of Atal Rai’s life.



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