Patna: Visitors to Golghar will no longer be allowed to climb to the top. The Golghar is a granary built by the British in 1786 which has become a symbol of the Bihar capital.
The Golghar is currently under repair. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is taking care of it. people can’t climb it because it is an old building and we cannot allow much load on it, a local newspaper quoted a source as saying.
People visiting Golghar will be able to watch witness laser shows that will illustrate the history of Patliputra – as Patna was called in ancient times.
The 231 year old monument had developed structural defects, stresses and large longitudinal cracks, salt action on its walls and water-logging around its foundation.
Experts said these were due to ageing of the monument, the load of thousands of tourists who climbed it daily, and the effect of vibrations due to plying of heavy vehicles on the adjacent grand trunk road.
The monument is protected under the Bihar Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act, 1976. The state government roped in the expertise of the Archaeological Survey of India for its conservation and renovation on seven years ago.
Repair work was to be completed in two years, but still remains unfinished for the want of just Rs 10 lakh, which the state government hasn’t coughed up, says the ASI.
“The major portion of the renovation and conservation work is complete and the main challenge of repairing two huge longitudinal cracks has been successfully achieved. Repair of the two staircases leading to the top and a coat of plaster on the outer surface remain. We are yet to get the money from the state government to do it,” ASI superintending archaeologist (Patna circle) D.N. Sinha said.
State archaeology director Atul Kumar Verma said the money asked for by the ASI in addition to Rs 98 lakh already given to it is not being released by the treasury.
Directions to build Golghar were given by then governor-general Warren Hastings after the great Bengal famine of 1770 in which an estimated 10 million people lost their lives in the lower Gangetic plain, including Bihar and Bengal. It was part of the plan to counter famines.
East India Company engineer John Garstin started its construction on January 20, 1784, and completed it on July 20, 1786. It was built with bricks, Surkhi chuna (lime and powdered burnt red terracotta) plaster.
Food grains were to be stored by carrying them to the top and dropping them in through a two-and-a-half foot opening. The 96-foot tall granary had one major defect. Its doors opened inwards; this meant that once filled, the doors could not be opened! That’s why the British called the Gol Ghar “Garstin’s folly”. John Garstin is buried in the South Park Street cemetery in Calcutta.