History: Located in the heart of Bathinda,Qila Mubaraq was built in the 6th century by Raja Dab on an area of 15 acres as a defence against the invading Huns. Successive rulers made a number of additions and alterations in the fort. Mohammed of Ghazna captured it in the 11th Century after King Jaipal committed suicide. In 1240 AD,Razia Sultan was imprisoned by Ikhtyar-Uddin-Mohammed-Altunia,the then Governor of Bathinda,and she escaped by jumping off the balcony to fight back. Phulkia chief Ala Singh conquered the fort it in 1754 AD. During the Mughal reign,the fort became an important outpost en route Lahore. Till the merger of princely states into India,the fort remained under the rulers of Patiala.
Present Status: Out of the 32 small and four big bastions,only few have been repaired and that too only from the inner side of the Qila. “Now,Qila Mubaraq has started to look like a fort,at least from some areas,” says an ASI official. About the condition of the walls and bastions on the outer side,the less said the better. The 30-metre-high massive fortification with a base width of 16 metres and an unusual slope are crumbling at a number of places. “Political will can help in seeking funds for the fort,as repair work on the outer side will require huge amounts of money,” say ASI officials. Rani Mahal,an imposing structure built during the Mughal period over one of the bastions near the gateway,is also in a shambles. Its repair work cannot be started until the decaying foundation is strengthened. The focus of repair and conservation is aimed at stopping the seepage of water to the walls from the inner side. The government apathy appears to be dealing a deathblow to the historic monument. A major chunk of the Rs 1.25-crore grant given by former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was diverted by the present government to a few other projects,including a shooting range at Badal village. The Centre was to release a matching grant.
According to Bathinda Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tewari,no grants had come from the government for the fort during his tenure. Sukhdev Singh,head of the Department of History,Rajindra College,Bathinda,says,”Political will is needed to preserve the heritage structures.” Jagmohan Kaushal,a social activist and chairman of Teachers’ Home,Bathinda,says,”Technical experts should be roped in to preserve Qila Mubaraq,as the government cannot be trusted.