Spread over 9.5 acres at Kup Rohira village in Sangrur district stands the ‘Vadda Ghallughara’ (big holocaust) built in the memory of 35,000 Sikhs who were massacred by the army of Afghan invader Ahmed Shah Abdali in February 5,1762.
The memorial, depicting the 254-year-old Sikh history and built at a cost of Rs 16 crore, has fallen victim to government apathy.
Inaugurated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in November 2011, just a few months before the 2012 Vidhan Sabha polls, the memorial was thrown open to public only on February 5, 2016.
But with no writings at the memorial or literature available, a visit to the memorial yet fails to be an experience to revisit a piece of history.
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Tourism Minister Sohan Singh Thandal said things will be in place soon. “The memorial is almost complete. DC Sangrur will form a committee to manage the memorial site. Things will start working very soon.”
Information about the history of the memorial can be garnered only via the guides who are seen strolling around. Because of lack of publicity, except for the nearby villagers, the memorial has no visitors. There is nothing in writing at the memorial and no pamphlets available to give information about its importance . “Nothing of that sort has been printed as of now,” said a staff at the memorial.
The site to construct the memorial was chosen after the archaeological department found sufficient proof about a war between Sikhs and the Mughals.
According to history, the Sikh Army along with families and children had gathered at Kup Rohira village when Abdali launched a sudden attack. “This place was amidst a thick jungle and had water available. The Sikhs had fought with Mughals till Kut Bahmani village in Barnala district from where only a few could escape. A gurdwara in Kut Bahmani also reveals the same,” said a guide Gurpair Singh.
Constructed by private company Larsen and Turbo, the responsibility to maintain the monument was given to the company Walks and Walks in January this year.
Around 44 employees have been hired on a contract basis for the upkeep of the monument, which boasts of an auditorium, interpretation centre, memorial tower, canteen and an open-air theatre besides the lavish lawns. But the auditorium with a sitting capacity of 230 people and said to have excellent light and sound system is closed. Apparently, a movie highlighting Sikh history was being shown in the auditorium till February, but was later sent back for editing.
“A 30-minute movie had been made by the tourism department to be played in the auditorium, but it is now lying with them for some editing purposes after being played for a week,” said a guide, Ranveer Singh.
Similarly, the interpretation centre, too, presents a sad picture. There is a library but minimal books and the antique paintings based on the history of Vadda Ghallughara are yet not ready. ” The antique paintings and books on Sikh history needs to be added in the interpretation centre and also we need to send back the movie, which will take another 3 months,” said Navtej Randhawa, Director of Tourism.
For now, except a few villagers, the historical monument will have to wait to see tourists throng the site.
Sharing information about the average footfall of tourists Ranveer said, ” On a Sunday nearly 500 people visit the site as there is a gurdwara nearby which depicts the history of the place, while on weekdays hardly 25-30 people visit the monument.”