Crumbling heritage of Dogra dynasts- Mubarak Mandi Palace in ruins
Mubarak Mandi Palace, that was once a royal residence of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir from the Dogra Dynasty, is in ruins now. With no attention from the government or the authorities from several years, the palace located in the heart of the old walled city of Jammu is nothing more than debris.
The fading grandeur of this antique heritage caught the attention of the government right before the scheduled VIP visit of the Chief Minister- Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Unlike the routine days, the complex was freed of the parked vehicles and was cleaned. Over two trucks loaded with garbage were seen shifting the filth out of the complex. On regular days, the complex is just used as a parking lot and is barely cleaned.
The building, that has been one of the oldest in the area, was a proud asset of the state from over 150 years. The architecture of the building is a unique blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and Baroque European styles. The complex is grouped around several courtyards and includes spectacular buildings like Darbar Hall complex, the Pink Palace, Royal Courts buildings, Gol Ghar Complex, Nawa Mahal, Rani Charak Palace, Hawa Mahal, the Toshakhana Palace and Sheesh Mahal. The grand halls of the palace were once the venue of official functions hosted by Dogra rulers. With river Tawi on one side and the Jammu City on the other, the palace was a magnificent display of the sheer royalty of the Jammu province and its rulers.
Now, most of the parts of the complex are in ruins as the palace has been the victim of fires for over 36 times and the building has also suffered from severe earthquake tremors in the 1980s and in 2005, which was not followed by any attention from the government’s side, let alone any extensive restoration procedure for the rehabilitation of the complex. The roofs and the floors of the Gol Ghar have eventually collapsed by now, leaving the building as a ruin. The palace is a declared heritage site and surprisingly, people outside Jammu are barely aware of the royal possession of the province. Other heritage sites like Bahu Fort have been maintained and promoted even for tourism but the royal house of the Dogra dynasts has been forgotten by the locals as well as the concerned authorities.
Many a time, the government has allotted crores of rupees for the restoration work but the concerned authorities have barely paid any attention to renovate or beautify the place. The building which could also have served as a source of income, had it been in any other state like Rajasthan where the heritage sites are extensively maintained as well as promoted as either museums or lush five star hotels, needs to be preserved and saved from further deterioration.