Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beautiful Heritage of SARAI AMANAT KHAN AMRITSAR


PHOTO 1: DELHI DARWAZA OF SARAI AMANAT KHAN, AMRITSAR
PHOTO 2 : LAHORI DARWAZA OF SARAI AMANAT KHAN, AMRITSAR
PHOTO 3 : JAIL CELL OF SARAI AMANAT KHAN, AMRITSAR
PHOTO 4 : MAGNIFICIENT CIRCULAR DOME OF SARAI AMANAT KHAN, AMRITSAR
PHOTO 5 : RARE AKBARI PILLAR NEAR SARAI AMANAT KHAN, AMRITSAR
PHOTOS BY RASHMI TALWAR

SARAI AMANAT KHAN , AMRITSAR

GATEWAYS OF OLD SARAI AMANAT KHAN , AMRITSAR
BY RASHMI TALWAR
AMRITSAR
"In exercise of power conferred by rule 32 of the ancient monuments archaeological sites and remains rules 1959 (of AMASR Act 1958) The central government has declared the area upto 100 meters from the protected limits and further beyond it upto 200 meters near or adjoining protected monuments to be prohibited and regulate area respectively for the purpose of mining and construction. No person can make any kind of construction/excavation/ mining operation within prohibited and regulated area without the written permission of the Director General, Archaeological survey of India, New Delhi. Whosoever unlawfully undertakes any mining operation or construction shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both. ………Archeological survey of India (Chandigarh) This blue warning board is written at the "SARAI AMANAT KHAN" MONUMENT PRESENT STATE OF THE MONUMENT However it was seen by this writer that the adjoining areas are being used as residences with new constructions. This was evident from the fact that while the monument and its adjoining areas are constructed with "NANAKSHAHI BRICKS" the new construction uses ordinary thick modern bricks . many of the adjoining portions are also being used as animal sheds and shelters. Also the restoration work undertaken hardly gels with the structure's construction . on many occasions movie production houses use the sarai in a historical backdrop . While the rooms in the arches are portrayed as jails without due permission from the ASI , they only connive with the local guardian of the monument and use the premises for photo shots . In the process many of the monument's structures are misued by using nails and others articles to launch lights and other paraphernalia used for filming . The beautiful 'SARAI' is situated in village Amanat Khan located 35 Kms South-East of Amritsar on Tarn Taran-Attari road. The Gateways and Sarai was built by 'AMANAT KHAN', the Mughal noble and calligrapher of the magnificent Taj Mahal. PROTECTED MONUMENT The warning reads on the Protected Monument reads: "This monument has been declared to be of National Importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological sites and remains Act 1958 (24 of 1958). Whoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces, imperils or misuses. This monument shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 3 months or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both". THE SARAI WAS BUILT ON A SERENE PORTION OF LAND It comprises of small cells around a big quadrangle with two imposing Gateways known as LAHOURI DARWAZA –which is white inlaid with fine glazed tile and Persian calligraphy and on the opposite side is the DELHI DARWAZA of red sandstone of RAJASTHAN and file filigree work can be seen in the upper balcony . Both DARWAZAS are placed in the center of eastern and western wings. A mosque, well and open space for horses and bullocks etc. were provided within the quadrangle. It has a "prayer Chamber" and is entered through arched opening. The roof is spectacularly made with Nanakshahi bricks in a grand circular rising upto the dome The spandrels of the arches are decorated with fine glazed tile work. The gateways, both similar in design, consist of two chambered central passage with rooms. The façade has two arched recesses, placed on either side of the central opening above which are Projecting balconies, executed in triviate style. The remaining portions are being decorated with arched recesses in low relief to the outer corners are added two octagonal towers crowned with Cupolas. The edges of the arches, the spandrels and two small panels are decorated with glazed tile-work. The colored designs show floral scrolls and GULDASTAS placed in between foliage. (Notification No. PN 19571 Dated 25.06.1928).

Friday, October 24, 2008

BSF traps One Bangladeshi

AMRITSAR OCTOBER 24, 2008 BSF traps One Bangladeshi RASHMI TALWAR TARN TARAN (AMRITSAR ) October 24, 2008--- BSF's 08 Battalion on Friday nabbed one Bangladeshi Nitin Bishna of village Janetta in Bangladesh while he was trying to cross over to Pakistan from the Khalra sector . BSF personnel Vipin Kumar nabbed the Bangladeshi at BoP (Border out Post) no 145 while he was attempting to cross the barbed wire. A case has been registered xxxx

Rs 98,000 in Indian fake currency seized from Indo- Pak border village

AMRITSAR OCTOBER 24, 2008 Rs 98,000 in Indian fake currency seized from Indo- Pak border village RASHMI TALWAR TARN TARAN (AMRITSAR ) October 24, 2008---- As much as 98,000 in fake Indian currency were seized from one Jatinder Singh of village Havellian Naushera Dhala on Indo Pak border, falling in the Tarn Taran district, on Friday. SP Special Narcotic Cell (TT) while talking to the press said that the SNC had set up a decoy and laid a trap for Jatinder son of Gurcharan Singh of the village. The deal between an SNC decoy and the smuggler was sealed at Rs 10,000 for fake currency of One lakh Rupees in Rs 500 denomination. When Jatinder came with fake currency he was nabbed by the sleuths of the SNC informed SP SNC Gurpeet Singh. a case has been registered against the accused. According to SNC Paramjit Singh is the mastermind behind this gang of Indo Pak smugglers. xxxx

DLH-CHD-AMRITSAR high speed train gets nod for pre-feasibility report from Lok Sabha

AMRITSAR OCTOBER 24, 2008 Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar high speed train gets nod for pre-feasibility report from Lok Sabha RASHMI TALWAR AMRITSAR October 24, 2008--------- Even as the issue Mumbai to Ludhiana freight corridor's extension to Amritsar is held in abeyance the Ministry of Railways has decided to conduct pre-feasibility studies for construction of high speed passenger corridors equipped with state of the art, signaling and train control system for Delhi – Chandigarh – Amritsar corridor . along with this studies would also be conducted for three other "high speed rail " corridors including ' Pune – Mumbai – Ahmedabad'; ' Hyderabad – Dornakal – Vijayawada – Chennai' and 'Chennai – Bangalore – Coimbatore – Ernakulam' . The proposed section will be having dedicated tracks solely for running trains at speed of 300 to 350 kilometers per hour. These trains will have state of art technology, traveling comfort and on board services. The Rail ministry said presently, technology for such trains is not available with Indian Railways. Detailed requirement of technology will be assessed during the course of pre-feasibility study. Till now, global tenders for engaging a consultant for Delhi– Chandigarh – Amritsar and Pune–Ahmedabad have been invited by Ministry of Railways. Minister of State for Railways Dr. R. Velu informed in a written reply in Lok Sabha . xxxx

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

VEER ZARA -Real life Indo -Pak Wedding SAGA first time in AMRITSAR


FIRST HINDU INDIAN BOY OF AMRITSAR MARRIES PAKISTANI HINDU GIRL OF PESHAWAR
A BIT OF PAKISTAN'S PESHAWAR BROUGHT TO AMRITSAR ESP FOR THE WEDDING THROUGH SOUND RECORDING OF TEMPLE BELL CHIMES OF ANCIENT MANDIR
BY RASHMI TALWAR
/Amritsar

October 13, 2008 ----
A 20-year old Pakistani bride, Anita Kumari in her bridal finery felt lucky and glowed under the shade of the "shaguni " red duppata bespeckled with stars as she approached the wedding 'mandap', shyly stealing a glance at her groom Pawan Kumar (23), amidst sounds of "temple bell chimes" of her 'maika' in Peshawar. Complete with Hindu traditions of ghori , jai mala , saat pherey et al the wedding between a "Hindu Pakistani" girl Anita from North Western Frontier province's capital city Peshawar and Pawan Kumar a Indian Hindu boy from Amritsar was solemnized with much fan fare in the city on Monday.

For the holy city this was a first wedding solemnized between a Indian Hindu boy and Pakistani Hindu girl.
The family of Pawan had migrated to India after Indo_Pak partition but kept alive their relations with relatives in their ancestral town of Peshawar Pakistan . The wedding was an arranged marriage and the bride's s family had come with 13 relatives to the holy city for the wedding .
At the wedding ceremony Anita's family had brought a bit of the bride's 'maika '( Peshawar ) in the form of sound recording of "temple bell chimes" from Peshawar Pir Rattan Nath Mandir - an ancient temple in Peshawar, played during the traditional "jai Mala" (exchanging garlands) ceremony of the couple .
The 400-year old temple in Peshawar is considered holiest among Hindus there with ancient idols of Lord Shiva , Shivling , Krishan –Radha , Ram –Sita –laxman and Hanuman besides Bahiron Nath and Mata where under security by Pakistan government, festivals of Dussehra , Diwali , Navratras and Shiv ratris are celebrated, says the temple in-charge Balwant Ram of Peshawar who had brokered the matrimonial match between the two families .
Anita wearing a heavy mauve and gold lehenga made in Amritsar complete with wedding "chora" while talking to The Pioneer said "my friends and cousins in Pakistan were envious of the fact that I was marrying an Indian. For Pakistani Hindu girls the fascination for India extends even to getting Indian grooms." she laughed and "Yes I feel lucky" she added .
On a solemn note, having seen the hassles that her family went through, Anita said, visas should be eased for weddings between the families of both countries and also for relatives residing on both sides of the Indo Pak border. The bride's family including the bride herself has got the visa only for 45 days, in India .
Anita and her family including her aunts and their children are Hindus but have for the first time witnessed the grandeur of the "big fat" Hindu wedding for real in India.
" We have seen grand Indian weddings only in Indian movies . Islamic Weddings in theocratic Pakistan are mostly low key affairs with limited dishes and ostentation reduced to a minimum, so minorities communities there too have followed the majority communities diktats and adhered to simplicity even in various traditions , financial status also being a major factor", says Anita's father Inder Prakash who is a general merchant in Peshawar.
The bride's mother Giani devi could not make it for the wedding due to ill health but her aunts Jasodha and Kamla besides their other relatives made up the guests from Pakistan from the bride's side .
The groom's father Dhian Chand a kiryana merchant in Amritsar said nearly 1000 Hindu and Sikh families reside in Sind Pakistan . "While many Peshawaris came with us to India in 1956 after Indo –Pak Partition . They kept on percolating in year 1970, then after the Indo Pak war of 1971, again the migration of Peshawaris started to India in 1980 before militancy took roots in Punjab and stricter conditions followed . Even today the mindset among Peshawari Hindus is to migrate to India . Comparing themselves with their counterparts in India they too want to settle here . "When asked if this was another way to migrate the family said "we have only strengthened bonds between our families with a "sacred marital thread" which is pious to both our families . We as families have exchanged visits over the years and now felt we could conjoin our children in holy matrimony".
Two years back Pawan, his father and his mother Indu Prakash had gone to Peshawar where the bride side had liked the boy and had said yes to the wedding between their children although the girl is a plus-2 and the boy is a matriculate .

Thursday, October 9, 2008

DUSSEHRA EFFIGY MAKER

DUSSEHRA SPECIAL For 46-years he has smiled when his creations goes up in flames Father a master craftsman in Lahore used to be fondly referred as 'Lahori' Ram Rashmi Talwar/Amritsar October 4, 2008--------- On Thursday, the 9th of October, Harbans Lal (62) would see his month long hard work go up in flames ,he would smile and also 'rejoice' along with thousands of onlookers that the evil creation has been destroyed in full public view. Harbans, has been a master craftsman for over 46 years in making of effigies of Ravan, Meghnath and Kumkaran—symbolic of the evil brothers who are set aflame on every Dussehra festival as a symbol of destruction of evil and the dominance of good, as enshrined in Epic Ramayana and celebrated for eons . Talking here to The Pioneer Harbans says although he earns a measly sum of Rs 150 of labor daily, for the month that takes to form the three big effigies, he not only enjoys his work but is never disheartened as he holds religious sentiments for this work along with familial ties with the creations. His three sons also help him. Harbans says his father 'Lahori "Ram" too was a master effigy maker before partition and had created effigies over the years in Lahore, Pakistan during un-partitioned India when Dussehra was celebrated with much gusto in the open parks of Lahore, that had a sizeable Hindu population, He was fondly referred to as 'Lahori "Ram" –(the Ram of Lahore who killed Ravan –the evil), Harbans explains affectionately While the effigy of Ravan would zoom upto 90 feet, the other two would remain as at 70 feet each. The three effigies cost a total of about 4.5 lakhs contributed by people. As much as 350 metres of cloth, quintals of paper including colored paper , 10 quintals of bamboo, 30 kilos of seba (jute) and 7000 patakas in each, make up the effigies that takes only a maximum of 5 minutes to be reduced to dust, at the crack of dusk on Dussehra Day. Last year was the first for him when one of his effigies lost balance but was handled deftly with cranes , says Harbans . At other times of the year Harbans along with his sons Naresh , Ashwani and Deepak make different sizes and shapes of kites including patangs, pari's, paddar , gudda and others . In the lean period they sell 'amm pappar' (mango preparation ) and others eatables he adds. "But making Butts (effigies) remains my first love since I was 17 years old and helped my father make them" says he . eom…………..

HISTORICAL FORT GOBINDGARH AMRITSAR--THROWN OPEN TO PUBLIC







ARMY HANDS OVER HISTORICAL FORT GOBINDGARH TO CIVIL ADMINISTRATION
Rashmi Talwar /Amritsar

October 6, 2008--------
The coming Monday was indeed be special and a magnificent historical moment in the history of the holy city as the army handed over the Fort Gobindgarh ramparts to the civil administration of the city, after several rounds of talks between bureaucracy, the political leadership and army authorities.
Major General P.S.Paul,VSM, General Officer Commanding Panther Division handed over the reins of the fort to Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu on this Monday .
The Punjab Government has already chalked out an ambitious plan to tap the great tourism potential of this historic city which includes a plan for the adaptive re-use of Fort Gobindgarh as a National Museum displaying memorabilia of India's Freedom struggle besides a contemporary history of the Indian armed forces and the role of these forces in preserving the integrity of the country.
Located on the northwestern boundary of India, it was here that Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his armies for the first time were able to shut the Khyber Pass and prevent the invaders from invading India in the early 19th century.
It may be recalled that on December 20, 2006, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had handed over the key of the historic fort to the then Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.
This monument was kept out of bounds from the people of Punjab for over 150 years who have emotional attachment with the events related to Fort Gobindgarh. It had remained under the control of Army since 1849, when Punjab was annexed by the British after the demise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is expected that Fort would be thrown open to the civilians who could witness firsthand the past history of the monument and of the period .
Built in 1760, it was called Bhangian Da Kila (Bhangis was one of the twelve Sikh misles), The fort occupies a unique place in the Indian military history.
During 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. Towards this end, is a specially constructed "Toshakhana", in the centre of the fort. The huge Toshakhana was also used to store large amount of grains and provisions for the 12,000-strong Maharaja's army.
Made with brick and lime with number of army bastions and iron gates and 25 cannons on the ramparts that are now replaced with modern weaponry, the fort was constructed on a square pattern with a parameter of 1500 sq mt with two strong gates, four large bastions and well-defined rampart.
The majestic entrance has been named 'Nalwa Gate', after General Hari Singh Nalwa –the great Sikh warrior in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army.
The other end of the gate is known as 'Keelar Gate' and it was rumoured that in its close proximity existed an escape tunnel, connecting to Lahore tunnel. However, the army authorities said that they had not been able to locate any such tunnel so far.
Of special interest to the denizens and tourists is the Darbar Hall, Hawa Mehal. and Phansi Ghar (hanging chamber) besides the "O'Dyer Bungalow" a grim reminder of -- a reminder of the Jallianwala Bagh bloodbath (General Reginald E. H. Dyer, chief of the British army in Amritsar and the perpetrator of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that is merely a crows flight to the historical bagh where thousands lost their lives in the bloodiest carnage) . the British Army had added these to the fort after the annexation of Punjab about 150 years ago
Significantly after the Indo Pak Partition the fort provided shelter to a large number of refugees from Pakistan. A year after Partition in October 1948, the fort was handed over to the Indian Army. It was last occupied by 176 Field Regiment of the artillery
However, reservations are already being expressed whether the state government would be able to preserve (and restore) its original glory. Talking to The Pioneer, Pannu said the administration and the Army authorities had worked out a solution. A part of the fort still held by army establishment would be properly segregated to give safety to their unit and also provide suitable camouflage by raising a wall with a cost of Rs 2.50 crore. A special road has also been constructed to provide a separate entry to the Army establishments.
He said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism had already earmarked restoration fund of Rs 2.50 crore that had been lying with the administration and would be used for proper facelifting and conservation of this historic monument..
Despite the prolong army occupation of the monument , the forces had to this day maintained the historicity of the place with the names of the various buildings still intact and etched in original form and have even tried to enhance the usage of the place by displays .
One such instance is the "Phasi Ghar" (hanging chambers ) that has a mock effigy hanging from a noose pointing explicitly over its use by the British who condemned hundreds of Indian freedom fighters and patriots to the gallows. It is reported the General got sadistic pleasure in watching patriots being hanged in ‘Phansi
Ghar’ which is situated just opposite his residence-cum-office. On this occasion , the "Association of Families of freedom fighters" demanded an inventory of those condemned to the gallows by the British , to be handed over to the civil administration as well as all previous records of the fort so that history could be truthfully , clearly and concisely conveyed to the public through historical memorabilia and corresponding documents in the proposed museum .
Also such a list could piece in the puzzle of several "missing" freedom fighters "who were known to have just 'vanished' during the freedom struggle and their mention in any incident or report could not be located .

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mamas turn sons into monkeys --LANGOOR WALA MELA IN AMRITSAR...


WORLD FAMOUS LANGOOR WALA MELA IN AMRITSAR
RASHMI TALWAR , AMRITSAR
September 30, 2008------

'Amritsar' conjures up images of the glistening 'Golden Temple' but few are aware that the holy city of Amritsar is also "world famous" for the "langoorwala Mela". What "Durga Puja" is to West Bengal and "Dandiya celebrations" are to Gujarat, the Langoorwala Mela is to the Holy City of Amritsar.
Every year on the occasion of the Navratras, thousands from across the country and abroad arrive at the ancient “Bara Hanuman Prachin Mandir” at Durgiana Temple here to take part in the internationally famous nine-day Mela to make a wish for a child or for thanksgiving.
The unique mela that began here on Tuesday, on the auspicious occasion of Navratras saw children dressed as “langoors” dancing to the tune of drums in a procession passing through different parts of the holy city , in a rare feast for the eyes.
More than 2000 langoor costumes have already been distributed say temple authorities.
Many childless devotees, irrespective of 'religion' or any caste, don the garb of langoor to seek Lord Hanuman’s blessings for the birth of a child, while many children can be seen wearing the languor dress to show their gratitude towards Him.
In bright red outfits, with silver and golden trimmings, conical caps, faces smeared with fuller’s earth and make up like langoors complete with long tails and silver-coloured staffs, children dressed as langoors dance to drum beats for all nine days of Navratras.
The temple boasts of a "rare" idol of Lord Hanuman in sitting position. Except for Hanuman Gadri, Ayodhya, such posture of the idol is believed to exist nowhere in the world.
According to legend in the epic Ramayana, twin sons of Lord Rama – Luv and Kush (Lahore and Kasur in Pakistan were named after them, respectively) — who lived in exile with their mother, Sita Mata at Ram Tirath (near Amritsar ) captured the Ashwamedha horse let loose after “Ashwamedha Yajna” performed by Lord Rama to stake his claim over the territories where the Royal horse set afoot.
Lord Hanuman, who came to defend the horse, was taken prisoner by the twins and tied to a banyan tree which is located in the Durgiana Mandir . Later, a temple was built at this place. To commemorate this, couples still tie a red thread on this very ancient banyan tree after wish fulfillment.
Interestingly, an eighty-year-old and a few months old baby alike can be seen dressed as langoors to fulfill the vows of their parents or grandparents. On their part, the parents or a guardian sleeps on floor, observe fast, avoid footwear, eat vegetarian food uncut with knife and recite verses from Ramayana during the entire 9-day period. The “langoors” on their part remain bare-foot all the 9- days and sleep on the floor. On the first day, they bring some sweets, coconut and flowers after seeking blessings from the head priest.
Many childless devotees, irrespective of religion, don the garb of langoor to seek Lord Hanuman’s blessings for the birth of a child, while many children can be seen wearing the langoor dress to show their gratitude towards him.
The mela concludes on Dussehra festival when “langoors” finally take off their langoor outfits near the banyan tree.
The childless mothers gifted with a child, untie the thread on the ancient tree on the fulfillment of their wish. According to a popular legend, the unique festival has been celebrated for centuries.
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