DESPITE the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the restoration of the Penang Wadda Gurdwara Sahib in Jalan Gurdwara is progressing well.
Heritage architecture and cultural anthropology consultant Dr Gwynn Jenkins said the progress has reached Phase 3.2 which involved stripping up parts of the building to discover the changes that happened over the years.
Dr Jenkins said the team has found the changes that happened (good and bad) back in the 60s and 70s.
“Now we know what we have to rebuild and how to move forward in Phase Four, which will be the main conservation project.
“The Penang Wadda Gurdwara Sahib is a brick and plaster lime water, low-bearing building. It has an interesting structure and is very unusual in Malaysia,” she told reporters at the gurdwara today.
Dr Jenkins said a heritage management plan is important to learn all the parts of the building, so that it could be so restored properly.
“It saves you time and funds,” she said.
Dr Jenkins said Phase One of the project involved digging the ground and looking at the foundation; checking the levels of the floor; opening part of the staircase and drilling the walls to see if there is lime plaster underneath it.
“Phase Two involves moving the people to the back of the building; while Phase Three involves stripping up the staircase, opening up a section of the prayer hall floor to understand the top vault and how they were built.
“On the last day of the stripping up works, we took out a piece of plaster and discovered that the corridor below, which has a flat ceiling, was in fact once a vault,” she said.
The restoration work of Penang Wadda Gurdwara Sahib is scheduled to complete in two years.
The gurdwara Conservation and Restoration Committee chairman Datuk Mahinder Singh Dulku said the estimated cost of the restoration work has increased to RM5.2 million.
“It is a challenge for us to raise funds for the restoration work due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are reaching out to the public via the social media platform to seek kind contributors.
“I believe that we will be able to raise enough funds by the end of next year,” he said.
Mahinder said kind donors could call 012-4300497 (Sukhveer Kaur, honorary secretary of the gurdwara), 012-4234177 (Daljit Singh, president) or himself at 012-4735708 for more details.
It was reported that the gurdwara, a Category One heritage building, had not undergone any restoration work since it was constructed.
The construction of the gurdwara, then called the ‘Diamond Jubilee Sikh Temple’, started with the laying of the foundation stone on June 3, 1901.
Meanwhile, Penang Local Government, Housing, Town and Country Planning Commitee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo brought great news to the gurdwara when he announced that its latest application to the RIBI (places of worship other than Islam) Fund has been approved.
He announced that the gurdwara would be receiving a RM50,000 fund from the RIBI Fund following the approval. Also receiving a RM50,000 fund each were the Penang Lay Buddhist Society, Sri Krishna Bagawan Alayam temple and Penang Christian Centre.
Jagdeep said the Penang government is concerned and would assist all places of worship, both Islam and non-Islam.
“The Islamic places of worship are under the responsibility of the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP); while we have the Places of Worship other than Islam Commitee to assist the RIBI.
“We have received 165 applications and have distributed about RM6.775 million since 2016,” he said.
On a separate matter, Jagdeep urged the people to continue to abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has conducted 271,794 checks on the island, while the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) has held 510,829 checks as of Sept 6.
“The compliance rate is 99.6% on the island and 99.33% on the mainland,” he added.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi