Poonch Fort in Ruins

Ronik Sharma
The Poonch fort, which is renowned for its enormous size and intricate architectural patterns, is expanded across an extensive area with a long wall. According to the information that is now accessible, the Poonch Fort is one of the main tourist attractions in the town and district of Poonch.
It has around seventy rooms, including large halls, lobbies, Toshakhana, and Goal Ghar, which was thought to be the Raja of Poonch’s office. With time, this monument’s glitz and elegance faded because of non-maintenance and renovation work. At present, the walls of the Poonch Fort covered in dirt and dust. The ageing windows and doors from the king’s reign are falling apart. Additionally, the interiors of the rooms are rather dark and gloomy.
The fort’s structure is deteriorating and falling apart as a result of the numerous trees and plants that are sprouting up everywhere. There are various areas where the fort’s midsection is shattered, making access there extremely challenging. Inner and outer compounds of the fort which ought to be a model of hygienic cleanliness, have a foul smell and display a lack of concern on the part of Government officials for not showing any interest in maintenance, repairs, and renovation. While entering the Poonch Fort complex, a visitor comes across a very depressing scenario. At present, the haveli tehsil office is there, officials are working there, and their chamber conditions are quite filthy. The structure was deemed unsafe since the interiors were in poor shape and previous maintenance efforts had not been made. The entire structure was severely damaged in the 2005 Earthquake, and the District Administration at the time once more deemed it unsafe.
No such successful attempts have been taken to yet to prioritise the preservation and upkeep of this Poonch Fort as a historical monument, nor has it been given to a specific department for ongoing upkeep, reconstruction, and beautification. So that the deteriorated state of the building might be preserved and kept up in the future. It is obvious that this historic heritage structure in the Rajouri and Poonch districts serves as a reminder of the area’s rich history. However, additional funds are required for its restoration and attractiveness, which might attract tourists and history buffs. Surely, after the well maintenance and reconstruction works where needed, Poonch Fort will be one of the most famous monuments and one of the most attractive places in the border District of Poonch as well as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and this historical monument will definitely attract the attention of tourists as part of their tourist and holiday packages.
Previously, the Poonch Development Authority had taken the initiative and renovated a portion of the Poonch Fort edifice. Some of the frontal and back portions of the Poonch fort have undergone maintenance work, and the entire structure and area around it have not been made attractive or clean, but everyone is aware that all of that work has been a waste of government money. Very expensive lights were installed amidst the dirty and uncleaned areas, for which those officials should have been held accountable, but no one paid attention to this. A thorough plan and budget are required for the entire renovation project. It is vital to restore every area, both interiors and exteriors, of the fort, and it is essential to make the surroundings beautiful. It is an appropriate time for the administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Tourism Department, the Poonch Development Authority and the District Poonch Administration to renovate, maintain, and rehab one of the most significant historical heritage sites in the district Poonch of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
This heritage must be preserved, much like well-preserved forts in India. Secondly, the two-story Bagh Deodi Poonch is similarly in bad condition as a result of a lack of maintenance, much like the preceding example of Poonch Fort. Such measures to conserve this historic structure of Bagh Deodi have not yet been taken. The old structure of the Bagh Deodi has not been renovated, and this entryway not only depicts intriguing ornamental elements like jharokhas and legendary motifs but also has beautiful artistic features that may be seen throughout this entryway. Another historical building, Sheesh Mahal Palace in Poonch, is now being used by the Education Department of Poonch, and Girls Higher Secondary School is functioning on the premises of the Palace, but the obvious condition of the structure is in front of everyone: a large portion of the structure’s interior and exterior got damaged, and no maintenance work is in process. Due to a lack of maintenance and poor care, one of our historical heritage sites is totally destroyed. In contrast, the Baldev Mahal Palace and Moti Mahal Palace are maintained by the Indian Army, who have done an excellent job of maintaining both palaces. The Indian Army should be commended for this.
Considering the security scenario of the border district of Poonch and to prevent any untoward incidents, the Union Territory administration shouldn’t hesitate to hand over the Poonch Fort building to the Indian Army or any other paramilitary forces because anyone can take advantage of this abandoned building.
If the Indian Army takes control of this building, it will be well maintained, just as the other palaces are being well maintained by the Indian Army. In order to preserve and maintain Poonch Fort and all other historical heritage sites in Poonch, the Government of India as well as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Administration are urged upon to prepare a thorough plan, and extensive budgetary allocations are necessary for the entire renovation heritage projects in order to preserve and maintain Poonch Fort and all other historical heritage sites in Poonch. In order for visitors to freely move around and visit these historical places, it is imperative to restore every area, including the interiors and exteriors of the buildings. It is also necessary to create a beautiful environment.