Govt pushes for heritage tag for Khalsa College, UNESCO team visits

College claims building can’t be a tourist spot, state government says they can be convinced later

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR | Amritsar | Published: June 1, 2017 9:49:31 am
The UNESCO team at Khalsa College in Amritsar Wednesday. Rana Simranjit Singh

A UNESCO team on Wednesday visited Khalsa College, Amritsar to inspect the building to explore the possibility of giving it heritage status, the state government said. Khalsa College Governing Council (KCGC), however, said that while a team visited, the government had not discussed any plan to get the building a heritage status with college authorities. It also maintained that a college could not be a tourist spot.

Director of Tourism Navjot Singh Randhawa had escorted UNSCEO India head Moe Chiba to the Khalsa College, Amritsar and also to some other buildings planned by famous Sikh architect, Bhai Ram Singh, in Punjab and other states.

“We showed the UNESCO team several buildings designed by Bhai Ram Singh in Sangrur, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Shimla and other places. Our Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu wants to register all buildings designed by Bhai Ram Singh under UNESCO. It will help the state get more international tourists. As part of the plan, UNESCO team visited Khalsa College, Amritsar, which is the most famous building designed by Ram Singh,” said Randhawa.

Apart from Khalsa college, UNESCO team was also taken to the Darbar Hall in Kapurthala on Wednesday. Bhai Ram Singh was born in Rasulpur village of Gurdaspur in 1858. However, public relation officer of the KCGC, which owns the Khalsa College building, expressed ignorance about the efforts being made by the Punjab government.

Dharminder Rataul, PRO KCGC, said, “We were not informed about any such effort being made by Punjab government. A team visited Khalsa College campus. We were informed that team was here to search the possibilities if Khalsa College could be a tourist place. “We explained to the team that it would not be possible to make Khalsa College a tourist spot as it is a college and there is an academic atmosphere. Team also agreed with our views on their proposal. There was no discussion on the recognising Khalsa College building under UNESCO. We only come to know about this idea from media.” He categorically added: “Any such proposal cannot be moved without our consent.”

Randhawa, however, said, “Our first motive is to convince UNESCO. They have told us to submit a dossier to make a demand to get building registered under UNESCO. We will discuss it with Khalsa College authorities at a later stage.”

Interestingly, KCGC had been involved in a direct tussle with newly formed Congress government in the state after Punjab CM Amarinder Singh cancelled university status for a group of Khalsa colleges near the heritage building of old Khalsa College.

A KCGC member said, “We have a doubt over the intention of Punjab government. It seems they want to damage the idea of university inside Khalsa college campus by making UNESCO an excuse.”

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