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Ram Piyari Mahal to become museum after upgrade.

Byline: Waseem Ashraf Butt

GUJRAT -- The Ram Pyari Mahal (palace), one of the few majestic pre-Partition buildings in Gujrat, will be declared a museum after its renovation.

The Punjab government has planned to develop a museum at this historical building by decorating it with antiques mainly belonging to Gujrat whereas a public library, an art gallery and a coffee room will also be the part of the [renovation] project.

Gujrat Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa told Dawn that the local authorities had proposed renovation to transform the historical building into a hub of literary activities in the town.

Punjab Secretary Sports Muhammad Aamir Jaan, who also holds the additional charge of secretary (archaeology), visited the Ram Piyari Mahal on Friday where he was briefed about the proposed renovation.

The secretary directed the respective officials to add an art gallery and coffee room to the project to promote local artists and other recreational activities in the town.

Ram Piyari Mahal reflects a classical and alluring combination of Greek and Roman orders of architecture.

Ram Pyari was the third wife of Sundar Das Chopra, a contractor of Dingah town, about 55 kilometres from Gujrat, who got constructed this building for his beloved wife in the second decade of the 20th century. The road that passes by the building was previously known as Ram Pyari Road, but later it was renamed Circular Road and now it passes by Sohni Bazaar of pottery and ceramics in the walled city.

Ram Pyari Mahal's edifice is a blend of Greek and Indian architecture. Its facade is a symbol of Greek architectural orders. The entrance to the main hall is supported by pillars, representing Greek orders like Doric and Corinthian. These pillars are still in good condition.

The special feature of the Greek orders is that these are decorated with floral art and a figure, which is not Greek but looks like an Asian priest. The floor is cemented with Indian tiles which are worn out now and the walls are decorated with French tiles which still look fresh. The building has more than 40 rooms and four basements.

Ram Pyari's family migrated to India during the 1947 riots. In the following years the building was attached with the Government Fatima Jinnah College for use as a hostel. Later, the Gujrat district government decided to convert the building into a museum and handed it over to the Punjab archaeology department for its renovation. Weather has ravaged the beauty of the building which also needed the attention of the authorities concerned.

The archaeology department had earlier spent Rs5 million on renovation of the site a few years ago but still a lot is required to be done.

The then vice chancellor of University of Gujrat, Prof Dr Nizamuddin, who is now chairman of Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), had once expressed the desire to convert the building into a learning centre to cater to the needs of students where seminars on higher education and to promote history and culture of Gujrat could be held but that plan could also not be executed so far.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Dec 10, 2017
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