LAHORE: The internal wall of Raja Dhian Singh Haveli at the Government Fatima Jinnah College for Women collapsed one month ago.
According to nearby resident Zeeshan, no one from the government has so far inspected the heritage site in the Walled City of Lahore. There are a few havelis in Chuna Mandi – a momentous group of historic buildings.
According to the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA), the premises houses the Government Fatima Jinnah College for Women with its large quad and Sikh imagery — considered to be famous palace of Dhian Singh – a young Rajput chamberlain of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Likewise, the place is also believed to be the palace of Khushal Singh in 1844.
“From its sprawling courtyards to its royal baths and from its arched hallways to its zenana gardens, the building is breathtakingly beautiful. But, perhaps what is far more important is that the Haveli is as alive today as it was in its days of glory. Instead of being kept under lock and key, it is being utilised as a college and every corner has been put to constructive use,” reads a statement regarding the history of the site by the WCLA.
Official sources say the wall collapsed apparently from many cracks in the structure. They fear the collapse of other parts of the building if maintenance and preservation works are not carried out.
“Though we have a college for girls there, we cannot do any sort of restoration work there,” Higher Education Department’s Secretary Sajid Zafar Dall told Dawn.
“A few days ago, I came to know that the wall caved in. I further learnt that the WCLA people would reconstruct or restore this wall.” He dispelled the impression that the department demolished the wall to extend college’s premises.
The secretary said the department was ready to hand over the site to WCLA for necessary work.
A WCLA official, however, said the college admin did not allow them to carry out maintenance work of the building. The haveli is not on the list of notified sites under the WCLA for restoration purposes. The WCLA only deals with the regular restoration/conservation of two sites – Shah Hamam (Royal Bath, Delhi Gate) and Lahore Fort – besides controlling expansion of commercial activities in the Walled City.
The official said if the government wanted restoration of such Havelis, it should hand them over to the WCLA officially.
“Our staff visited the site on Tuesday and found the building properly maintained which also poses threat to 7,000 students and teachers,” he warned. He said the WCLA team had prepared a case for the restoration of the building.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2020