Video : Maharani Lakshmi Bai’s birth place lies in neglect

Posted November 19, 2013 by admin in latest News

VARANASI: The birth place of Maharani Lakshmi Bai, which was renovated and turned into a memorial only last year by the tourism department, is lying in utter neglect in absence of a proper system for its upkeep. Forget a gatekeeper, the department has not even provided this place with basic necessities required for daily maintenance. Even a visitor’s register was not provided by the government officials to the memorial which sees over 250 visitors, including foreigners, on a daily basis.

In a noble gesture, a group of professors from Banaras Hindu University ( BHU) and some locals provided some necessary articles like visitor’s register, broom, water tubes, scissors and knives for gardening by means of charity and donation.

As there is no appointed caretaker or gatekeeper to look after the memorial, a local family led by Harinath Prasad Gond takes care of the upkeep of the memorial without any financial support from the government. “I have been looking after this place for the past 10 years as I am inspired and attached with this place. I sleep here at night and sweep and wash the entire area almost daily and even contributed as a labourer during the renovation work. The work requiring cutting the grasses, cleaning the statue and other maintenance is done by me and my wife. But we do not get any money from any department. It is the locals who come and donate some money and articles to us for the upkeep of the place,” Harinath said.

Harinath is a poor labourer and his wife works as a help in some houses in the locality. Despite their poor condition, they are looking after the place. Harinath and his family has placed a donation box and tourists and visitors donate some money voluntarily for the upkeep of the place.

According to Harinath, the place has also seen some architectural damage. The metal mount situated behind the golden coloured statue fell a few days ago and is still to be repaired. The water fountains are also lying defunct. Harinath has written to several officials to make permanent arrangement for the upkeep of the place but nothing has been done yet.

The memorial, after its renovation was completed in November 2012, is yet to be handed over to Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC) and the proposal is pending for a year now. Earlier in March 2013, Uttar Pradesh tourism minister Om Prakash Singh visited the place and ordered to place a sign board, solar street lights and coupling bricks pathway near the memorial. But several months after the order, the street lights and sign boards are yet to be provided.

Regional tourism officer Ravindra Mishra was not available for comments. When Mayor Ramgopal Mohale was contacted, he said, “I am not in a position to comment at the moment.”

A budget of Rs 52.24 lakh was spent on the project and construction work was started in 2010. The memorial comprises a golden colour statue of Lakshmi Bai, accompanied by pictorial representation of major events from the life of the warrior queen on the side walls. The boundary lines of the campus have been constructed with pink stones. The motivational stories and events from Lakshmi Bai’s life have been carved out.

The inscription of lines from the poetry (Khoob Ladi Mardani …) written by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan on the side walls fill evoke feelings of respect and patriotism.

Prior to the renovation, the birthplace had been lying neglected for a long time. According to Harinath, very often tourists and educationists used to come in search of the birth place of the warrior queen but after witnessing its condition, they had to return dejected. At present, the memorial attracts thousands of tourists, educationists, historians and students to witness the birth place of the woman, who was an epitome of bravery and empowerment.

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Read : Lakshmi Bai : Warrior Queen of Jhansi

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