The 400-year-old Guru Nanak Palace in Bathanwala village of Pakistan's Punjab province was partially demolished by some locals in Narowal. It is alleged that the demolition of the heritage site was conducted with the complicity of Auqaf boards.
The four-storied building was constructed nearly four centuries ago, with its construction mostly comprising of bricks, limestone clay and sand. The building complex used to have 16 large rooms with thorough ventilation. All the rooms had precious doors, windows and ventilators with wooden carvings on them, which were sold by the vandals.
The rooms were constructed with large broad walls with enclosed cupboards in them and the room walls had small lamp enclosures. The roofs were made of expensive Deodar wood beams, which costs thousands of rupees per foot.
The palace walls made of old brick aligned in beautiful designs had several paintings of Baba Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus) and of several Hindu rulers on them.
A local resident, Muhammad Aslam, said: "This old building is called the Palace of Baba Guru Nanak and we have named it Mahalan. A number of Sikhs from across the world, including India, used to visit this building," reports Dawn.
Aslam also claimed that once a six-member delegation from Canada had visited the building. Among them, a woman was carrying a large book with valuable information about the historical building. He said that the delegation was overjoyed at visiting the site as if they had found a treasure, adds the report.
Another local from the area claimed that the Auqaf department was informed about the demolition of the Guru Nanak Mahal by some influential persons, but no actions were taken by the authorities over the matter. He said that already three storeys of the building have been destroyed and new houses have been constructed. "The influentials have demolished the building with the connivance of the Auqaf department and sold its costly windows, doors, ventilators and wood," said another local Muhammad Ashraf.
The Dawn news reached out to several authorities in order to find out the legal owners of the building or the government agency that holds a record of the property. From the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) authorities to the family that lived in the building was contacted by the correspondent of Dawn, but all in vain.
"There is no mention of this building in the revenue record. As it seemed to be historical, we are checking the municipal committee's record," said Waheed Asghar, Narowal Deputy Commissioner in-charge of the record of all properties in the region. He also said that the demolition of the building has been stopped now.
The ETPB Sialkot zone Rent Collector Rana Waheed said that an investigation has been initiated over the Guru Nanak Mahal Bathanwala demolition. "If this palace was the property of Evacuee Trust Property Board, legal action will be taken against those responsible," he said.
The people have also demanded Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's interfere in the matter and take legal action against the vandals for the destruction of the heritage property.