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  • Ravi Chaudhary
    For pictures see: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030125/windows/sites.htm The lost grandeur of Chhachrauli Ranbir Singh A picture of neglect: The main
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 3, 2005
      For pictures see:


      The lost grandeur of Chhachrauli
      Ranbir Singh

      A picture of neglect: The main haveli of the Kalsia rulers in Chhachrauli
      A picture of neglect: The main haveli of the Kalsia rulers in Chhachrauli

      CHHACHRAULI is situated on the picturesque right bank of the Sombh, a
      fiery tributary of the Yamuna. Sombh Nala, as it is called locally,
      originates in the Sirmaur hills. Surrounded by lush greenery,
      Chhachrauli is situated half a mile southwest to the Sombh. To its
      south are Yamunanagar and Jagadhari and to the north the road leads to
      Paonta Sahib and Bilaspur.

      Little is known about the antiquities of the area except that it is
      comparably a recent settlement, not more than 250 years old. Sugh, an
      ancient settlement of the late Buddhist period, is some 6 kosas
      farther down along the bank of the Yamuna. Alexander Cunningham
      records about its antiquities in his report of 1863-64. Little or no
      account of Chhachrauli is available in the Gazetteer of Ambala
      district which was compiled between 1870 and 1874. Only some mention
      of Kalsia rajas is available in the book The Rajas of the Panjab,
      authored by L.H. Griffin and published in November, 1870.

      To get some information about Chhachrauli, my visit to the town
      sometime ago yielded significant information. Lala Trilok Das Garg,
      65, was of great help. He led me to the fort. After passing through
      the magnificent entrance gate named after Raja Ravi Sher Singh, we
      entered the town. The straight road goes to the end of the town. We
      turned left to pass through another entrance gate of the fort. In its
      high precincts stand some old and a few new buildings.

      A decorated podium of a haveli in the fort
      A decorated podium of a haveli in the fort

      In the centre stand the ruins of a magnificent royal house built
      probably 140 years ago in traditional Indian architectural style. This
      double-storeyed mahal looks like an ancient haveli, big enough to
      accommodate 50 persons. It could have been a jenana, since it has only
      one decorated entrance in its eastern wall. The mahal is built on a
      rectangular plane with a central courtyard, measuring 60 feet by 40
      feet. On the left hand stands another magnificent building known as
      Rani Mahal. Between these is another building in British-Indian
      architectural style, which was probably used as a rest house. It is
      now used as a gurdwara and is painted in austere white. Beyond this to
      the left, is the 60-foot-high burj or the clock tower, built by Raja
      Ranjit Singh Kalsia. In olden times when noise pollution was
      non-existent, its chimes could be heard as far away as Jagadhari. Shri
      Charan, on a monthly salary of Rs 100, used to wind this clock in the
      times of Raja Ravi Sher Singh. The clock is a master creation of local
      artisans. Its long pendulum has been made of two heavy blocks of
      stones obtained from the Sombh bed. It stopped working after a few
      decades of its placement. Later, in the memory of his son Kanwar Karan
      Singh, the Raja got it repaired. It is now lying in a state of neglect.

      Constructed with lakhauri bricks sometime in the middle of the 19th
      century, Rani Mahal does not seem to have been the personal abode of
      the queens alone. Its space and design make it a fit place for royal
      gatherings or for holding darbars. It has a great hall in its western
      side. There are 20-odd large rooms on both its northern and southern
      side. In the central hall, there is a three-arched, decorated masnad
      i.e., the royal seat. The masnad was designed to have three rear doors
      for letting fresh air and light in. The doors are now sealed with
      wooden planks. In its canopy exist several beautiful wall paintings
      and floral patterns. To see their real colours, I had to remove layers
      of dust for an hour. Several artefacts and photographs of the royal
      household that used to adorn the walls and mantels were removed years
      ago from here. This large two-storeyed building contains seven-arched
      verandahs. It is now being used as a girls' school. In front of the
      building, which stands on a four-foot-high chabootra, there is a
      fountain that has been just left to decay.

      The artistically designed entrance to Lala Trilok Das Garg's haveli
      The artistically designed entrance to Lala Trilok Das Garg's haveli

      The most striking building is the old haveli, constructed with
      lakhauri bricks and lime mortar and profusely decorated with wall
      paintings and floral patterns. The entrance door and the full length
      of the eastern wall, besides the courtyard walls, bear testimony to
      the royal taste. The heavy brass-studded and artistically designed
      front door panels were removed from here a couple of years ago by
      miscreants. Lala Trilok Das Garg told me that the Raja had engaged
      Muslim masons and chiteyras for the construction and decoration of the
      haveli. Even the grandfather of Lala Trilok Das had employed them for
      construction of their haveli in the main bazaar in the 1920s. The wall
      paintings depicted the Sikh Gurus, founding fathers of Kalsia state,
      deities of the Hindu pantheon and auspicious birds like the baaz and
      mayur. In the absence of proper care, this magnificent old building is
      falling in ruins. Some of the walls and almost the entire roof of the
      first floor have collapsed. The haveli is now covered with weeds and
      rubble. Most of the paintings on its walls have vanished or faded. It
      can still be resurrected and made to appear as grand as it stood 100
      years ago provided the owners are ready to invest sufficiently and
      convert it either into a local museum-cum-art school of Sikh heritage
      or at least into a heritage hotel. It is astonishing that the
      Archaeology Department is unaware of this beautiful heritage building.

      The Raghunath and Shiva temples built here some 140 years ago by Lala
      Gopal Sharan Das Mittal are other fine monuments of religious
      significance in Chhachrauli, which has a population of over 10,000.
      Within the temple complex, are exquisitely carved wooden projections.

      Unfortunately, with the migration of the royal family from
      Chhachrauli, all the buildings in the fort complex have lost their
    • Ravi Chaudhary
      - Rule of Kalsia rajas UNTIL the latter half of the eighteenth century, nobody had ever heard of Chhachrauli, a small principality founded by Sardar Goorbaksh
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 3, 2005

        Rule of Kalsia rajas

        UNTIL the latter half of the eighteenth century, nobody had ever heard
        of Chhachrauli, a small principality founded by Sardar Goorbaksh Singh
        of Karora-Singhia confederacy. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had granted the
        estate of Chhachrauli to Goorbaksh Singh,a commander of his troops and
        a resident of Kalsia village. Goorbaksh Singh thus set up an
        independent fiefdom called Kalsia, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
        Chhachrauli became its capital.

        The dilapidated haveli of Kalsia rajas
        The dilapidated haveli of Kalsia rajas

        Goorbaksh Singh did not earn a great name in his life time. However,
        his successor and son Jodh Singh was of great ability. At that time
        the area of Kalsia state comprised the territory between the Yamuna
        and the Markanda stream.

        In Jodh Singh's time, Chhachrauli was still a large village and no
        buildings of importance were in existence. In the ensuing times, Jodh
        Singh became so powerful that he even captured Dehra Bassi from Sardar
        Khajan Singh and also acquired territories of Lohal and Achrak. When
        Maharaja Ranjit Singh attacked and occupied Naraingarh in the
        Shivaliks in 1807, Jodh Singh was with him. In recognition of his
        services, Ranjit Singh presented him territories of Badala, Kameri and

        Jodh Singh died in Multan in 1818. After his death, his son Sobha
        Singh assumed charge of Kalsia state and held it till his death in
        1858. Lahna Singh, son of Sobha Singh, had extended full support to
        the British in Delhi in crushing the revolt of 1857.

        In 1858, when Lahna Singh assumed power, the Kalsia territory was
        intact as a British protectorate. The state's annual income was nearly
        Rs 3 lakh per annum and the population was around 62,000. Its capital
        Chhachrauli could now also think of expansion and prosperity. The
        disturbances, which had been so frequent, in the preceding century,
        ceased to give further trouble to the Kalsia rajas.

        After Lahna Singh came Ranjit Singh Kalsia, then his son Ravi Sher
        Singh and finally Ravi Karan Singh.

        The Kalsia rajas held their estate till 1947 when it was merged with
        the Indian Union.

        Both Raja Ranjit Singh Kalsia and Raja Ravi Sher Singh built several
        public utility buildings, including a charity hospital and schools.

        Raja Ravi Sher Kalsia Hospital was inaugurated in 1910 by Lt Governor
        of the Panjab Sir Luis William Daney. The old court building still
        exists at Chhachrauli.

        The dewan of the state used to live in an impressive building known as
        `Janak Niwas'.

        The Kalsias were undoubtedly staunch Nanakpanthis. In volume XIX
        (Part-1) of the Census of India 1891, E.D. Maclagan, the Provincial
        Superintendent of Census Operation, records: "Some eighty years ago
        (i.e., in 1811 AD) the grandfather of the present Lambardar of Jainpur
        village was carried off by the Sikh Chief of Kalsia, and had all his
        fingers burnt off, because he refused to acknowledge that Nanak was
        the true Guru."
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