MAHARAJA SHER SINGH’S PALACE BATALA
This beautiful building was created from mud plastering and was earlier known to be a part of Anarkali build along with Baradari and imitated the Shalimar Garden in Lahore. The remnants of the carvings and the wall paintings are still well preserved. However, today the complex is being looked after by Baring Union College and the Archeological Survey of India.
History of Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace
The famous Jal Mahal and the exquisite palace of Maharaja Sher Singh were built by the Maharaja in AD 1780-1839. Jal Mahal and Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace were connected through a tunnel. According to senior members of the community, the Samsher Khan Tank in Jal Mahal was used to be filled with water through this tunnel connecting to Jal Mahal and it further extended to the Beas River near Kahnuwan. The remains of the tunnel are still visible near the Baring Christian College.
Site and Architecture of Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace
Jal Mahal was used by Maharaja Sher Singh to hold meetings with his courtiers. While the water reservoir was built by his royal Samsher Khan the beautiful Baradari that exists in the center of the tunnel was incorporated by Maharaja Sher Singh. It also has a square room that leads to the center of the pavilion through a passage. The first floor could be accessed by concave shaped staircases on the north eastern side of the canal. Jal Mahal features eight doors in its lower part of the building while the upper storey consists of four doors. The inner walls then contained beautiful wall paintings and glass art carvings. Today, a major part of this architecture has been either damaged or removed. The roof in the pavilion too has fallen off. The local municipality has been operative to install a tube well that filled up the tank till the eighties. Each side of the reservoir was lined with Nanakshahi bricks however those too have been damaged and disintegrated with the passage of time. Today, one side of the tank is taken up by a Vridh Ashram (old age home) while other sides feature a Shivala and a Bhadr Kali Mandir. The upper part of the incredible monument too is in a dilapidated condition and soon what remains may turn dust.
The interior walls of Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace, Gurdaspur (Batala) were once richly adorned with amazing paintings that depict geometrical, calligraphic and floral patterns. The decoration is still intact on the interior of the palace walls but it is only traces that one may find on the exterior. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has been undertaking repair and reconstruction work to conserve the heritage architecture of the Sikhs. The local and state government too has taken on initiatives to beautify the surroundings of the building.
Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace, Gurdaspur (Batala) now serves as the administrative complex for the Union Christian College. Daily activities however will not be coming in the way of tourists looking to spend some quality time in the place. The Maharaja Sher Singh’s Palace, Gurdaspur (Batala) also provides incredible opportunities for photographers and history students. An engaging traditional Sikh community around, there is peace, devotion and spirituality surrounding the whole complex.