Change of guard at historic Fort Gobindgarh

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Amritsar, Oct 6 (UNI) The army today ended its 159 year old association with the historic Gobindgarh Fort by handing over the reins of this magnificant 18th century structure to the civil administration.

It was indeed an emotional moment for the Indian army as Maj-Gen P S Paul, General Officer Commanding, Panther Division, handed over the charge of the fort named after Guru Gobind Singh to Deputy Commissioner K S Pannu here this evening. Built in 1760, it was called Bhangian Da Kila (Bhangis was one of the 12 Sikh misles), the fort occupies a unique place in Indian military history.

The change of guard comes after several rounds of talks between the bureaucracy, political leadership and the Army authorities. On December 20, 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in a symbolic gesture handed over the keys of the historic fort to then Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Punjab Government has already chalked out an ambitious plan to tap the great tourism potential of the holy city which includes a plan for the renovation of the fort which was kept out of bounds for the civil population since the British army first occupied it in 1849. It was in 1948 that the Indian army took control of the fort, whose ramparts once shook under the footsteps of the Lion of the Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit.

In 1808, the fort was known as the fort of Gujjar Singh Bhangi.

Later, it was re-built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh with the help of Jodh Singh. The legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh strengthened the fortification of the fort in order to keep his treasures and treaties safely.

A specially constructed "Toshakhana" was built right in the centre of the fort. The huge 'Toshakhana' was also used for storing the large amount of grains and provisions for the 12,000-strong Maharaja's army.

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