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Destination weddings

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh |

If all goes as per the Punjab government’s plans, destination weddings may well be held in the state itself. The ‘big fat’ Punjabi marriage can be held at various monuments and heritage sites.

Wedding parties from other states will also have a chance to plan a destination wedding in Punjab. The state Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department has started conservation of various monuments and heritage sites. Officials said they first need to preserve and maintain the heritage sites so that they can be used to organise marriages.

Punjab has important heritage sites and monuments such as Old Motibagh Palace, Durgiana Mandir, Jalianwala Bagh, Sheesh Mahal, Moorish Mosque, Fort Museum, Sainik School of Kapurthala, Bhatinda Fort, Fatehgarh Sahib and Sri Anandpur Sahib.

“Having retained the ethnic architecture, these sites are associated with the glory of the past. We are contemplating making available space at these sites for marriages. It will not only generate revenue but also give an option to Punjabis to arrange marriage functions in the state on the lines of destination weddings. We are in the process of making it a reality,” Managing Director of Punjab Tourism Development Corporation Shivdular Singh Dhillon told The Statesman.

Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has already said the Union government has cleared the Punjab government’s project worth Rs 100 crore out of which Rs 32 crore would be spent on infrastructure development and facilitation of pilgrims at Sri Anandpur Sahib. Sidhu has also said the Union minister also gave the nod to Rs 20 crore for Fatehgarh Sahib, Rs 18 crore for Chamkaur Sahib, Rs 10 crore for Jallianwala Bagh, Rs 15 crore for Hussainiwala and Khatkar Kalan memorials related with Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev, Rs 3 crore for Saragarhi apart from Rs 2 crore for Kalanaur.

During his recent visit to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial at Chappar Chiri in Mohali, Sidhu had announced Rs 24 lakh for the development of the heritage site. He said the fund would be used for the development of the site as well as the facilitation of tourists. The memorial was set up in 2011 to acknowledge the valour of the Sikhs in a historic battle with the Mughals. Sidhu’s visit to the memorial came after the Mohali legislator Balbir Singh Sidhu had demanded sprucing up the basic infrastructure of the memorial.

Sidhu also announced Rs 12 lakh on behalf of Rural Development and Panchayat minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa for restoration of the approach road towards the memorial as well as Rs 12 lakh from his own discretionary quota for the beautification of the memorial and facilitation of tourists.

He said the state government’s plans to develop tourism sites under different circuits of Sikhism, Sufism, National Valour, Mughals and Historical would act as game changers in not only bringing but firmly placing Punjab on the global tourism map.

The Union government has given the nod to spend Rs 100 crore to develop religious and heritage memorials in Punjab. This was decided at a meeting between Sidhu and Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi two weeks ago. The meeting, which was also attended by Union Tourism minister KJ Alphons and Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, was held to seek the Centre’s assistance for further developing religious and heritage memorials besides carrying out a comprehensive revamping of the sites related to national valour in Punjab.

Punjab Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, during a recent pre-budget meeting with Jaitley had urged observing the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which took place on 13 April, 1919, Baisakhi Day, on a national level. He has requested that a special grant of Rs 100 crore be sanctioned to the state for improving the monument, its surrounding environs and for observance of the event in a befitting manner.

Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate HC Arora has already sought the court’s direction to the state government to make all efforts for preservation of the protected monument in terms of Section 6 of the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964. “This section mandates the state government sign an agreement with the owner of the concerned building for the purpose of maintenance of the monument. An agreement may provide for maintenance of the monument, or its custody, and restriction on owner’s right to use such a monument, or to destroy, remove or deface the monument, and may also provide for facility of access to be permitted to the public, or any section thereof or to maintain the monument,” said the advocate.