Sikh monuments bulldozed to make way for building project

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Buildings surrounding the Sikh temple of Sri Hazur Sahib in western India are being demolished to make way for a new road and visitor centre, claims Gurmeet Rai, director of the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative in Delhi. October 2008 marks the 300th anniversary of the guruship of the Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book), and up to three million pilgrims are expected to visit Sri Hazur Sahib in celebration. In preparation, the local government has planned a massive building project, including access roads, temporary accommodation for the pilgrims and a new monument for Guru Gobind Singh.

The current temple was built in 1839 to commemorate the death of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708, but there are earlier buildings on the site, including a shrine built shortly after the death of the guru. Shortly before his death, Guru Gobind Singh compiled a new and authoritative edition of the Granth Sahib, naming it as his successor when he died and thus ending the line of personal Sikh gurus. The Guru Granth Sahib is kept in Sri Hazur Sahib, making it an important place of pilgrimage for Sikhs.

Following a visit to the site in December 2006, Gurmeet Rai claimed that several historic buildings and monuments in the temple precinct are under threat of demolition during the building project. She concluded:

The team urgently recommends that while it is appreciated that the infrastructure needs to be upgraded, the proposed plan must be reviewed by a team of conservationist (cultural and natural) so as to ensure that the important aspects of the cultural landscape are preserved.

Parvinder Singh, chairman of the Nanded city administrative committee, rebutted Rai's claims, arguing that some of the buildings slated for demolition were not of historic interest. He also said that some of the structures were so fragile that it was impossible to preserve them in the long term. However, Rai continues to criticise the demolition of buildings and monuments on the site, as well as the damage to the landscape which will be caused by the new access road.

Authorities plan to bulldoze sacred spaces of Hazur Sahib -- Punjab Heritage News

Nanded official invites conservationist to discuss heritage demolition at Hazur Sahib -- Sikh News Network

Losing heritage at Hazur Sahib, Darbar Sahib is next -- Sikh News Network

Gur-Ta-Gaddi Tercentenary Celebration -- project website