Funded by Asian Development Bank, the ₹8.5-crore project to restore Durbar Hall at Kapurthala is expected to be complete by the end of September. The project is funded by ADB for interior and exterior restoration and conservation of the historical building and the restoration is being carried out by Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board. The project would have been complete much earlier but was delayed due to pandemic. Once the work is complete, the Durbar Hall will be thrown open to the public.
Abha Narain Lambah Associates is the consultant to the Government of Punjab for the conservation of this historic Durbar Hall. The project involves the comprehensive structural conservation, exterior and interior restoration and adaptive reuse of this historic durbar hall as a public hall and state archives for Kapurthala princely records.
130-year-old Durbar Hall is an Indo-Saracenic monument built by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala. It had grand interiors for public functions and was used by the Maharaja to hold his durbar (court) twice a year. Its construction began in 1882 and was completed in eight years. The Maharaja’s birthday celebrations and state rituals and ceremonies were also held in the hall. In 1947, the complex became government property and was converted into a courts and administrative complex.
Indo-Saracenic architecture was a revivalist architectural style mostly used by British architects in India in the later 19th century, especially in public and government buildings in the British Raj, and the palaces of rulers of the princely states. It drew stylistic and decorative elements from native Indo-Islamic architecture, especially Mughal architecture.
Around 60 workers under the supervision of technical experts of the tourism department’s conservation wing are engaged in the restoration project. The work started in 2019 and was expected to be completed within 18 months, but was stalled as the lockdown imposed due to the pandemic delayed the shifting of government departments from the historic building.