The government is planning to undertake conservation, restoration and rehabilitation of the Bantony Castle as part of the tourism development project for which the government has received a loan from Asian Development Bank. The project will be completed in 20 months and Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board is the implementing agency.
Bantony Castle is prominent landmark of Shimla Town. The building is not only important tourist destination but also an architectural marvel that helps the town to identify with its Colonial past. No doubt the structure still stand strong after about 137 years of existence but it has faced various haphazard interventions (structural & surface treatments) through time which have left castle vulnerable to further deterioration. The Bantony Castle is not a single structure but a combination of three buildings and landscape elements altogether, having no defined enclosure. The structures are built in an architectural style typically characteristic of hilly regions of North India. The construction is seen in both undressed and dressed stone masonry with wooden members for strengthening.
In order to save the integrity of the heritage structure and also to improve the tourism potential of the location, the government has developed an inclusive conservation proposal.
The castle has not been maintained well and the building structure has deteriorated over the time because of maintenance issues. The architectural and aesthetic features have faced a lot of deterioration with time. It is also observed that the complete roof requires repair. The most prominent feature of the building has been the mini towers which have got damaged over the time. Also, the annexe of the building has beautiful features on façade which needs restoration. A complete surface treatment is wanted for the entire building besides the site beautification in terms of landscaping and illumination is also obligatory. Some of the walls need re-construction or structural rehabilitation.
The site has some constraints & limitations because of its setting in a hilly terrain, present condition etc. In many cases, the structures have already been modified to a great extent using incongruent materials and techniques. The harsh weather conditions, excess rainfall and snowfall have caused major damage to the structures in the form of water seepage, dampness and algae deposition. The roofing sheets and flooring material has deteriorated in most places. There is evidence that the original material was a lot more durable and resistant to weather forces as compared to the new material used in later reconstruction.
Now it is being planned to prevent decay of the historic fabric by addressing the decay and decay mechanisms in the buildings and precinct. Reversal of incompatible additions in past conservation works, compromising the authenticity and integrity of the precinct is also planned. The objective of the conservation project is to reinstate the spatial and visual relationships between various components of the historic precinct as well as its relationship with the setting. Removing later additions and non-original materials is another task which will be undertaken.