January 30, 2021 6:46:57 am
Work on restoring the 200-year-old tomb of a French Major, who served in the mercenary army of Begum Samru, is likely to commence in the next one month. This comes almost three years after the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) received permission from the Gurgaon district administration for the project.
On October 18, 2018, INTACH had partnered with Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University, to sign a MoU for the “conservation and interpretation” of the tomb.
“We have the funds, sanction, everything is set for restoration, but we could not muster the contractor earlier. There was also a delay due to Covid and non-availability of labour. We intend to start work in the next month, after which it will take around two months to complete,” said Major Atul Dev, Convenor, Gurgaon Chapter of INTACH.
Located in the middle of a park in Mohyal Colony, the tomb was erected in memory of Major Jean Entienne. He hailed from Bordeaux, France, and died at the age of 75 in 1821. He served in the army of Begum Sombre, who came to be known locally as Begum Samru – the wife of Captain Sombre from France, who began her own mercenary army after her husband’s death. Her army is believed to have camped in Gurgaon, between Badshahpur and Jharsa, during one of its assignments.
In the project report prepared for the restoration by Sushant School of Art and Architecture, the structure is identified as one of “historical, architectural, educational value” as it is “the only surviving tomb out of many others which would have there in Jharsa representing the era of early 19th Century”. Furthermore, it is “one of the very few remnants of tangible built structure” associated with Begum Samru.
The project report also proposes developing the area around it – redesigning the gates of the park, erecting signage at the site to “attract and encourage visitors to understand the significance” of the tomb, and creating a “seating cluster” in the area.
“The report has estimated an expenditure of Rs 15 lakh, which is being provided by INTACH from INTACH funds. Once the contract is awarded, and we know what the current wage is on the ground and other details, we may be able to adjust the cost plus or minus 5-10% percent,” said Major Dev, adding that the restoration will be “supervised by an architect member of INTACH”.
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