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RESTORATION OF RAUZA SHARIF, SIRHIND, PUNJAB
Abstract: Sacred monuments such as Mausoleums, Shrines, and Dargahs of Sufis represent the traditional tomb architecture. Among the major such Mausoleums “The Rauza Sharif of Mujaddid Alfisani” at Sirhind, Punjab is like one of these monuments having great historical, religious and cultural significance. Hence our aim is to document the present conditions of the impact zone, in terms of Architecture, planning, materials and technology and identify the deficiency on various fronts, based on this analysis of the impact zone, identify the potential of architectural interventions and accordingly propose appropriate design solution to address the concerns of today and tomorrow.
Keywords: Sacred monuments, Dargahs, congestion, climatic impact, climatic control, encroachments, ambience, sanctity, tranquility.
Brief history: The sacred “RAUZA SHARIF” at Sirhind, Punjab is the place of historical significance and also religious and cultural significance. RauzaSharifor Dargah ofShaikh Ahmad FaruqiSirhindi(popularly known as Mujaddid, Alf-Isfani)is situated on the Sirhind-Bassi PathanaRoad at a small distance to the north ofGurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. Sheikh Ahmed Farooqi lived at this place during the times ofAkbarandJahangirfrom 1563 to 1624. TheUrscelebration (death anniversary) of the Mujadid are held here for more than 300 years and are largely attended by Muslims from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and other Muslim countries.
There are a number of other tombs in the compound mostly of the members of Shaikh Ahmad's house. The mausoleum is a fine building made of bricks partly overlaid with stone and marble. Close to it there is the mausoleum of Rati-ud-Din, an ancestor of the Mujadid. Not far here are the rauzas of Mujaddid’s sons Khawaja Muhammad Sadiq and Khwaja Muhammad Masum. The rauza of latter is sometimes called rauzachini on account of its excellent mosaic work. In its premises are many other graves of the members of the house of the said reformer and some members of the ruling family ofKabul. There is a grand mosque with a basement and a small tank for performing ablution before the prayers. The shrine has since been taken over by Government of India as a historic monument and regular employees have been kept here for its maintenance, up keep and care.
The point of view of every individual with respect to the sacredness of a holy place varies. most of the believers follow the only imprints of their ancestors and give no importance to the ambience and sanctity of the place which if not given consideration will finally result in a place having only crowd of believers sitting in a place of heavy compromises in terms of space quality and essence of the sacred feel. For example. KALIYAR SHARIF. One gets a depressing impression if he/she visits the place for the first time. Though the plan is very much famous and one becomes eager to visit it when he hears its name. In the same way “The Rauza Sharif” at Sirhind, should be given the attention so that in the course of time the increment in the number of masses visiting this place do not pose any kind of threat to its ambience.
PRESENT AREA OF STUDY
The present area of site of Rauza Sharif covers an area of about 12 Acres, encompassing 7 shrines with the main shrine of AL MUJADID as per our first visit we found following factors which should be thought of and their solutions should be incorporated in the design proposal for the development and conservation of this heritage site.
- The ancient structures of the site such as the guestrooms, ablution pool etc. should be maintained and given due importance the guestrooms doors open towards the main entrance ambulatory piazza disturb the privacy of its guests, apart from this there is too much congestion in these rooms. The solution of this will be that the load of these rooms must be reduced and some more guest rooms should be made away i.e. out of the direct sight of the visitors entering the main entrance gate.
- There is encroachment in the complex by the staff houses which spoil the ambience of the Rauza Sharif, and should be screened off totally from the main shrine by relocating them somewhere else on the site and by doing landscaping.
- In summers noon time one thinks of quickly running away after visiting the place due to heat and tiredness, hence the areas generating the plenty of heat such as central piazza without any greenery or any shading shelter should be thought off.
- The shrine complex has got a plenty of agricultural land which can be utilized for planting shady trees apart from utilizing them for the purpose of agriculture also. Another thing is that there is no proper connectivity between the main shrine and the shrines of the predecessors of al Mujaddid as a result of which one leaves them unvisited, generally during their first visit, hence there should be a proper visual and pedestrian connectivity. Their maintenance will also then be given importance.
- The routes in the complex should be planned such that the Sub shrines should also be visited by the visitors. These interconnecting pathways shall have street furniture and also the stone pieces having engraved on them the history of the place, thereby making the visit more informative and interactive.
- The pool which is unmaintained presently should also be maintained and reopened as it will help in reducing the heat of the premises and will also serve the purpose for which it was initially built i.e. ablution.
The cosmic coherence of the premises should also be analyzed and a layout plan which coincides and matches with the coherent forces should be implemented in the new proposal of the shrine complex so that an environment of sanctity and tranquility is maintained, which should definitely be the attribute of the sacred space, as the sacred building is a place that contains certain qualities similar to those originating from nature in harmony with its surroundings.
- Demarcation of all the shrines within the area of study of the site, identifying other heritage structures which fulfill the supportive functions for example the guest house, pools etc, which are to be retained and restored.
- Identify the structures posing hindrance to the view of the heritage structure, deteriorating its ambience and grandeur and demolishing them for example houses and quarters of the workers.
- The structures which can’t be demolished should be subdued by removing one upper story and adding the elements which compliment the original heritage structure.
- Taking climate into consideration implement/provide some shading devices for example canopies, pergolas along the walkways which will help in reducing heat for the visitors as well as staff.
- The prominence of the vendors selling tea, coffee, snacks and juice should be reduced by reducing or restricting the size of the stall. It could be done by making a standard module of the vending stalls.
- Planning the proper route for the pedestrian traffic coming to the shrine complex such that no visitor unintentionally leaves the other shrines unvisited. All the shrines within the complex should be properly maintained by carefully studying these structures and removing the multiple layers of white wash applied over their surface one over the other in due course of time thereby revealing the original masonry structure and finally cleaning and applying the transparent varnish over its surface to protect it against the eroding weather.
- People living in the premises also rear cattle. They should be also given due consideration and should be planned carefully.
The heritage site under study should be restored in such a way that it is free from ugly encroachments or rather free from the encroachments of peripheral importance to provide views and vistas in the site, leading to and from the heritage buildings to the public places (rest houses, parks, sitting areas etc.). the street scapes should be provided such as street furniture and canopies etc. to reduce the heat generated during the hot weather and all the heritage building within the complex should be readily visible with respect to each other and the peripheral or the supportive services such as, guest house, ablution area, staff quarters and toilets etc. should be visually segregated and physically accessible with ease to its users.
- Heritage site visit of RAUZA SHARIF, Sirhind.
- Internet, Wikipedia.
- Creative space journal (January 2014 publication).
- Meeting with Prof. Kiran Joshi, Prof. S.S. Bais on 4th June 2014