AFTER A 10-year-long struggle, the Department of Archaeology and Museums in Haryana has finally taken possession of the 160-year-old Nahan Kothi, the only remnant of 19th century British architecture in Panchkula and a protected monument, and is planning to restore it as a heritage structure.
Principal Secretary to Department of Archaeology and Museums, Dr Sumita Misra, said, “This building is of typical British time architecture. So, the state archaeology department has taken over and we have asked the tourism department to oversee work on the building’s conservation.”
The state tourism department will draft a plan for restoration of the building in Sector 12, considered unsafe at present due to its dilapidated condition, said Misra. Then, it would be opened to tourists. Nahan Kothi finds mention in the archaeology department’s latest brochure on historical monuments of the state. “A significant and only remnant representing the British architecture of 19th century AD in the modern city of Panchkula, popularly known as Nahan Kothi,” states the brochure. A caretaker has been appointed to look after the building until restoration begins.
The monument was built by Surjan Singh and Bir Singh, sons of Raja Fateh Singh (1857-63), the ruler of Sirmour state. The region, including Morni and other adjoining hilly areas of Haryana, was then under Sirmour. Its capital was Nahan (Himachal Pradesh), hence the name, Nahan Kothi. The building was used as a territorial outpost and a hunting lodge.Before the consumer forum moved in there after its launch in November 1997, Nahan Kothi housed the SDM court.
The building was declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India in 2007. Then Panchkula DC Rajinder Kataria decided to shift the consumer forum to the upcoming new building of the district courts complex, inaugurated in 2012, but the consumer forum was not shifted as no such decision had been taken by the HC’s building committee. The archaeology and museums department sent notices to the forum to vacate the building in 2013 and 2014, but to no avail.
This January, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued notice to the Haryana government, the cultural affairs department and Panchkula DC on a PIL seeking eviction of the consumer forum from the heritage building.Following HC’s intervention, the consumer forum shifted to SCO 208 in Sector 14 which has been taken by the Haryana government on a rent of Rs 1.5 lakh per month.