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Miscreants rob historic tomb’s majesty

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RAJKOT: The majestic sight of Mahabat Khan Makabra, the 19th century mausoleum right in the heart of town, leaves outsiders visiting Junagadh for the first time spellbound.
Standing tall on a sprawling ground, the 120-year-old mausoleum is one of the most prominent monuments of the Mughal era rulers of Junagadh who had initially acceded to Pakistan but later agreed to merge it into India post-Independence.

But walk closer to it and the mesmerising sight turns into sorrow within a few minutes. Several integral parts of this Indo-European architectural wonder with Islamic wonder lie in shambles. The intricately carved grills are shattered and some silver doors have actually been stolen or just silver taken away from some of them along with the gold canopy. There is no one to stop you from doing anything here.

In the night, chances are strong that one may find Bachhus gulping down country-made liquor or even gambling. Though the main door of the mausoleum is locked, there is free entry for miscreants from the broken doors and walls — out of 24 grills, 12 have been broken in the past one year alone. As if this is not enough, pigeon poop leaves you with terrible stench.

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The work on this mausoleum that was started by then ruler Mahabat Khan Ji II was completed in 1892 but he died before it stood up. He was buried here. The tombs located here include that of Wazir or Prime Minister Bahadudinbhai Hasainbhai’s tomb, Mahabat Khanji II’s tomb and Navab Rasul Khanji’s tomb. There are nine tombs inside the Makabra and nearby it there are 24 tombs.

The French-style windows, shining silver doorways, rare spiral staircase minarets, gold and silver chandeliers are main attractions of this mausoleum.

Surprisingly, just one police complaint has been lodged regarding these stolen valuables by any authority. The department of archeology had lodged an FIR only when the silver door was broken and the thief remains unidentified.

The monument is managed by the state government.

Pradhyuman Khachar, a local historian who authored a book on this mausoleum, said, “The door is locked to protect its historical identity but the size of walls are not tall enough and miscreants come inside by jumping. There is a cellar under the tomb and it is used as liquor or gambling den. It is not the first time that the tombs have been vandalized but it happens often and nobody cares.”
V S Ravat, archeology and museum director, said, “Miscreants have broken some tombs and stolen lanterns as well as other articles. I have received complaints about the theft and vandalism to the structure and have asked Rajkot circle office to look into it. We have also planned to repair portions of the structure that are broken.”
The key of this mausoleum is kept at Junagadh Mamlatdar office. P V Antani, resident additional collector of Junagadh, said, “We have not lodged any complaints regarding the illegal activities or damages. That is the job of the archeology department.”
“The government should give entail some trust or committee to manage the monument. They may collect tickets from visitors and maintain and protect the monument.”