Tag Archives: kalka

Searching the elusive River Saraswati !!!!!

We have been taught in our school about Indus Valley civilization and how it was replaced by arrival of the people from west which have been called Aryans. That the Indus Valley civilization was spread between Indus  and Yamuna rivers. Excavation at many locations established many huge settlements like Harrapa in Pakistan side Punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sind district. But it is not the end. So many new sites have been established belonging to this civilization throughout North India beginning from plains of Punjab and Haryana to as far south as Dholavira in the Kutch coastal area of Gujarat.

This civilization thus was spread into the fertile flat plains served by many rivers like five rivers of Punjab, Indus River, Yamuna river and so many of their tributaries. These are perennial rivers with the origin in the glaciers of Himalayas. They bring about huge supply of water as well as rich alluvial soil. Thus the area is suitable for agriculture.

The civilization is said to highly advanced as is evident from the town and urban planning, sanitary system, baths, water harvesting and trade with many countries in the west. But even then it is said that these people did not develop any language or whatever symbols are there still have not being interpreted.

Then it is also said that one fine day this civilization disappeared. There are many theories like inundations due to changing course of the rivers which cannot happen short time. Another very strong reason is the invasion of these areas by fair colored people from the west. These are said to be pastoral people rearing cattle and riding chariots driven by horses. These were the people who are called Aryans and since they vanquished the native dark colored people who were pushed south wards or those remained were obliged to be inferior to their conquerors.

It is also said that the Vedas are their creation. How the pastoral people can create such profound literature? In these Vedas, another river figures prominently or rather dominates. It is river Saraswati. This river is said to have been responsible for the developments of the civilization along its banks. It is said to be flowing between Satluj and Yamuna and going all the way down towards Sind after merging with Ghaggar river and then Hakra river combined called Ghaggar-Hakra river system.

But many like Doctor R.C.Thakran, professor of history at university of Delhi  who has done research on the geological and soil aspects of areas along the Ghaggar river contest the existence of river as being responsible for giving rise to such a big civilization. It is too small a river with its catchment area in the lower Shivalik. Thus at the most , this must have been a season river. The variation in the moisture content of the soil in the dry beds decline sharply with the distance traveled indicating that flow was not large enough so as to saturate the subsoil equally all along. Sediments are identical to those of Shivalik hills in composition indicating the source in the Shivalik. Anyway the present reality is that river is not visible anywhere.

But government in Haryana is bent on its revival. Based on the scriptures, it will excavate the river said path to revive the past Aryan glory with which we North Indian identify ourselves. There are plans to pump the water from underground through tube wells into the excavated river.

According to the report the work is already begun. As reported in the times of India newspaper reproduced below.

As part of its attempt to revive Saraswati river, Haryana government on Tuesday initiated excavation work at Rolaheri village in Yamunanagar district.

Inaugurating the work, Haryana assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal said the project would once again take the culture and heritage of India to the golden period. Officials say that south Indian scholar Dr Ratnakar has shown interest in initiating the work on the project.”
Let us hope to be positive. But the conclusions based on the facts not the sentiments.

 

Nahan Kothi in Panchkula: Heritage in Shambles 

Panchkula is the extension of Chandigarh. Once upon a time, it was a small village on the road going to Kalka from Chandigarh. There was a truck market there and a number of stone crushers which crushed the stones from Ghaggar river into different sizes and shapes to feed to the building activities.

From Panchkula a few kilometres away are famous Pinjore Gardens. Panchkula is surrounded on its north by Shiwalik hills which overlook it from Himachal Pradesh. A number of princely rulers ruled small areas in the hills. Mostly these rulers belonged to Rajput clans. Unlike their counterparts in the plains of North India, these states were very small and less powerful. There were some rulers whose rule sometimes extended up to Panchkula area.

There were a number of villages in the area where modern Panchkula has been built. At some of these localities memories of the past still exist.

One such historic building is situated in Village Railli, near Sector 12A of Panchkula. It is called the Nahan Kothi. Nahan was an princely estate near Pinjore in Himachal Pradesh. This Kothi or small royal dwelling links the place to Nahan.

This Kothi is a significant and only remnant representing the British architecture of 19th century AD. This monument was built by two brothers Prince Surjan Singh and Bir Singh, the sons of Raja Fateh Singh (1857-63 AD), the ruler of Sirmour State. This region including Morni and other adjoining hilly areas of Haryana was then under the jurisdiction of Sirmour State, the capital of this state was Nahan. Hence the name Nahan Kothi was given to this building. It was generally used by the rulers to keep watch on the activities of their territory. Sometimes it was also used for overnight stay during hunting expedition. This monument had a garden and servant quarters in the beginning, the original architecture of this monument has been marred by the renovations and alterations at various times, even then, its original characteristics of architectural style are still intact.

Now as is the case of many such historical buildings, this place is in very bad shape. Although it has been overtaken by the state government but has not been treated as a monument. The area has been encroached and the peripheral area has been after encroachment sold as residential plots. The place has never been maintained and repaired.

Times of India Chandigarh carried out a story on it describing the pathetic condition of the buildings. The place has been occupied by encroachers who despite the recent directives of the high court have not moved out.

The Kothi has been used to house the offices of district consumers forum, mining and geology departments. The broken windows, damaged furniture, loose electric wires and trees sprouting in the walls are testimony to the state of ruins.

The following pictures of the Kothi has been taken from the website of Haryana tourism.

   
  

Haryana government must take the serious steps to restore the place it’s past glory.

Some snippets from childhood ?

I am 61 years old now and retired from the service. In the ample time at my disposal, the mind harks back and reel of memory rewinds on the spool of time and this time it stops at the days of my childhood. Our childhood was spent in the village called Manimajra. Nowadays it is in the Union territory of Chandigarh though at that time it was along with Chandigarh a part of Punjab.
We were like most others in the village poor peasants with small landholdings. Parents were totally illiterate. In those days, nobody was serious about the education and future of their children. It was supposed that they will fend for themselves when they will grow up. In all probability would be farmers like them. If they went to school it was by luck.
Even I did not like the school. There was nobody to cajole us about the need of education to become something and live comfortably. But still we went to school.
After school and taking lunch, we invariably headed for our fields which were quite far away. It was all the on foot through rough paths, streams littered with pebbles and thorny detours. We brought back the green fodder for our buffaloes.
But there were other outings also which we enjoyed most. One of these was going together to shrines of Mansa Devi which are about 4 to 5 kilometres away situated in the hillocks which are sub-systems of Shivalik hills. Usually the temples are situated in the hills.
There are two temples separated by half a kilometre distance. The lower one was constructed by the Raja of Manimajra and the other by Royal family of Patiala. The lower temple is older and was more aesthetic in design. There were frescos depicting mythological scenes related to Durga slaying the mehsasur and also of Krishna Leela. I don’t know what has become of them because even at that time they were not in well preserved condition.
There were small shrines littered around the main temples. One such was at the foot of the stairs leading to the temple. There was a big water tank in front of it. Pilgrims took bath in it during the times of annual fares in which people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal came to participate.
Farmers usually came in groups. There was at that time fashion of carrying a stick which was specially designed with a bend at the one end. Usually there were quarrels between groups and then this weapon was used freely. These people drank the country liquor and sweets like Ladoos and Jalebis were favourite.
But this was during the fare. In other times, there were very few people and it was very peaceful. We came many a times with our grandfather who was friends with a sadhu of the shrine. As they sat chatting and smoking hookah we played there for long time.
During other times, we came with friends and headed for the area beyond the temple. There were unending clusters of thorny bushes which bore the fruit “Ber” diminutive variety of jejube. They were mostly sour and sweet. All day we ate those and collected for home. Other attraction was an army helicopter which hovered over and many a times landed in the clearings of the bushes. We were awestruck with it and the way bushes swayed when it came down.
There was another attraction. It was walking along the Chandigarh Kalka railway line which passed in that area. We always waited impatiently for the train to appear. When it came rolling like a black giant which inspired awe and fear. The engine was steam based with clouds of smoke from burning coal issuing from the exhaust. The goods train used to halt at the crossing of the road leading to the temple. Many women from nearby village came to fill pitchers of water from the engine. Sometimes the motorman also gave them the partially burnt coal for use in homes.
During winter, the cough usually pestered us. There were no of the counter medicines. There was a herb called Adusa which grew in abundance. It bore white flowers which contained a nectar which soothed the throat. We sucked them and also brought back home because the cough became acute as the temperature dropped during the night.


Such were the days. A carefree life not affected by lack of money. There was hardly any pollution. No gadget like television, radio etc which keep us engrossed at home and we miss the nature’s beauty and surprises which wait us outside.