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Cold comfort in Golden Temple; Scholars cry foul

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May 30, 2008 12:48 IST

The air conditioners installed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple will pose a serious threat to the unique frescoes inside the holy shrine, according to Sikh scholars and conservationists.

The installation of air conditioners inside the temple by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has invited the wrath of the scholars and conservationists.

A top SGPC official, on condition of anonymity, said the step has been taken in view of the frequent visits of VVIPs to the temple, so that they get a 'desirable atmosphere for long sittings'.

The official said the ACs were installed 'on persistent demand' of Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, as she frequently visits the temple.

The SGPC, last week, installed two heavy duty ACs of four tonne-capacity each.

Conservationists say the unique frescoes and the heritage building are now at 'the mercy of variations in temperature'.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said the ACs were installed after obtaining the opinion of experts and conservationists. "Nothing has been done that would go against the structure of the Golden Temple," he said.

Balwinder Singh from the Guru Nanak Dev University described SGPC's decision to be against the temple's heritage.
"The SGPC should not have played with the natural settings of the sanctum sanctorum," he said.

"Controlled air from the ACs will pose serious threat to the centuries-old frescoes and other art work. Sikhism's most pious shrine was built in such a way that the inside temperature always remains pleasant due to cross ventilation," he said.

Devotees visit the Darbar Sahib for spiritual solace and not for physical comforts, he said, adding that the walls of the Harmander Sahib are made of burnt bricks and lime mortar and so there was no need to install the machines.

Last year, the move to install the ACs was dropped temporarily when noted conservationist Gurmit Rai and some Sikh scholars warned that the air-conditioning system in the Darbar Sahib would be an extremely destructive intervention.

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