Restoration work of Mubarak Mandi complex

The elegant royal palace of the Dogra Dynasty in Jammu , Mubarak Mandi complex overlooking River Tawi which remained much in focus till 1925 carries a unique splendour and glory besides enticing an emotional attachment is such a heritage situated in the heart of the main Jammu city which is one of the main centres of attraction of and interest for the visiting tourists besides the general public. For the last few years, restoration work on it, in which are engaged core professional workers keeping in view its peculiar form of architecture and workmanship , is currently underway with full pace and zeal. Recently, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha reviewed the state of progress of restoration and other redeveloping works of this historic complex. Such periodic reviewing shall definitely lend more credence and significance to the levels of progress of work and thus result in its early completion which is really craved for by one and all. It may be recalled that Jammu and Kashmir Government had prepared a detailed Project Report in respect of the heritage complex which envisaged initially the cost of restoration works to be around Rs.53 crore which later was enhanced to Rs.253.92 crore .
Having a potential of attracting more tourists, the complex comprising different buildings , however, has works in different stages which the Lt. Governor ,who happens to also be the Chairman of Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society , was widely briefed about where completion stages had arrived or how much were nearing completion .Shortcomings in various forms like non-availability of Engineering and other technical staff deputed from the UT Government for on the spot solutions of various issues must have been duly addressed so that on no count , the rhythm and rhyme of work on it was slackened. Connectivity measures and improved access to the complex need more attention as that was central to the convenience of and the resultant increase in the footfall of visiting tourists to Jammu. What is required, however, is early completion of the projects for restoring the Dogra heritage palaces in consonance with the aspirations of the people.
As regards converting a portion of the historic complex into a Heritage Hotel under Private Public partnership (PPP) model under which designing, developing, financing , maintaining and operating aspects were comprehensively to be covered, though largely opposed on the plea of compromising with the complex’s historic glory, continues to be undecided as on date as to the further steps needed to be taken in that direction. Since the issue of generating enough revenues being associated with the proposed PPP project , however, the Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society has not taken any further steps in the matter. However, it is believed that the society was authorised to invite Expression of Interest (EOI) for developing of Heritage Hotel in a part of the massive complex for ensuring ”adaptive use” as per the Master Plan .That was primarily thought for generating sufficient revenue for its proper maintenance and as an added chief attraction to tourists. However, it is not in any way going to be at the cost of the maintaining of the original structure of the palace complex nor in the least to fiddle with the ”protected heritage” being the main conditions of such a Heritage Hotel .
Union Cultural Ministry , on the other hand, has assured funds for setting up of State-of -the Art Museum , library and convention centre in addition to the funds provided by the Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) in this regard so that one major portion could be used by the common masses and the other (Heritage Hotel) for generating revenues for the complex. However, looking to the absence of any sort of acquiesce of this ”fiddling” with the historic complex by the people fearing eroding and diluting the rich Dogra identity, the otherwise seeming lucrative proposal is presently in dormancy. The immediate thrust , however, is on vigorously speeding up the restoration work and early completion thereof so that the historic complex looked in its splendid pristine glory.