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A Forgotten Battle for Independence

When India got independence on 15th August 1947, everyone thanked the great leaders of the country, who fought throughout their lives for this day. On one hand, people were rejoicing with extreme happiness, and on other hand, they were remembering those, whom they lost in this 100 years long battle for independence. The first major protest, which spread nationwide was recorded in 1857, which is now known as the First was of Indian Independence. After British oppressed this mutiny, they got busy in reorganizing the power and ensuring that such incidents are prevented in future. But the spark of freedom had started in every region of India. Some of the revolutions grew bigger and became famous, while most of them died within small paragraphs of history textbooks.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s royal mansion next to Rashtrapati Bhawan has now been converted into a museum. Several rooms in there are filled with stuff related to Nehru and the Indian Independence. In a corner of one such room, the curator cared to put few pictures of those social reformers, who rose around 1857, but were silenced by the British. This article is about one such social reformer, whose contribution to the society has been forgotten with time. He started his protest in 1857, just a month before the famous mutiny broke and was able to fight till 1872, but his followers continued to obey the commandments even to the present day.

clip_image002The battle of Mudki in Punjab was a major turning point for British and their advance towards North India. A soldier from 12th battalion of Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh’s regiment (Grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab), decided to leave his job as a warrior and take the path of peace. But he was also very much disturbed by the fact that how British had played tricks and bribed the Sikh generals to take over Punjab unethically. He came back to his village near Ludhiana and started meditating. A decade later, he decided to restore the status of Sikhs in Punjab. He found out that there is hardly any person left, who is following the true path of Guru Nanak & Guru Gobind. Hence, in April 1857, he baptised his followers and which later came to be known as the Namdharis, or more popularly, the “Kukas”. A month later, the 1857 uprising started but Kukas continued to meditate and live peacefully. They were now obeying the commandments of this reformer, the saint-soldier, Satguru Ram Singh (as commonly referred by his followers).

Seyi net furi aaye, samvat-e bahattre main,
magh sudi panchami, suvere guruvaar ke,
zila ludhiana, graam bhaini naam jaane aam,
avtare Singh Ram, kalam le taar ke,
Jaat Tarkhaan, Jassa naam ke avasse ghar,
sada maat main prakashe naam prachaar ke,
balak hi pan main thhe, ishvar ko mann main thhe,
dhiyavate se gann main thhe, jano ke sudhaar ke

– Panth Prakash, Giani Gian Singh

Translation:

In samvat 72 (read Samvat Bikri 1872), Ram Singh was incarnated, on the Thursday morning of Magh Sudi Panchami (aka Basant Panchmi) in Bhaini Village of District Ludhiana (Punjab). He was born to (Sardar) Jassa (Singh) of Tarkhan (Carpenter) community. He spread the holy name of god in this mortal world. He was a divine soul since childhood, worshiped god from his heart and always prayed for the betterment of everyone.

Baba Ram Singh ji was born on Basant Panchami in village Raiyan near Bhaini in Ludhiana district. After leaving Sikh Army, he settled in Bhaini Village, which also became the birth place of Kuka Movement sometime later. His village is now converted to a huge Gurudwara Complex, where every building marks some historic event. He established the community kitchen and started spreading his message of love and peace from his house. But things changed as the British was spreading their command deeper into villages of Punjab.

clip_image003Few months before the famous battle of 1857, the Kukas had formed a strong sect. Baba Ram Singh gave them few instructions, from where the “Kuka Movement” started. It also became one of the first boycott movements of India. The commandments clearly stated:

  • We will boycott the British governance & Administration
  • We will boycott the British products
  • No one will ever drink English tea, as it was introduced by the British
  • No one should wear English cloths. Only home-spun white kurta-payjama should be worn
  • No one will use refined sugar from mills setup by British. We shall continue to use jaggery and sugarcane juice
  • No one will use the water of canals established by British. Use water from wells, which community has dug up
  • No one will stand in the shade of trees, that British planted
  • We will not use public transport started by the British
  • The British postal System should be boycotted

clip_image005

With the above commandments, Kukas established a parallel administration. They had 22 Subas (heads) across 22 zones of Punjab. They started their own transport and postal system. Many Kukas don’t drink tea even till date. They are distinguished by their white cotton/khadi Kurta Payjama and round turban. They also abolished ill practices like Dowry and abandonment of widows. Kukas practice mass-marriages and believe in widow remarriage and are very strictly against dowry.

After the war of 1857, British went back to their thinking desks and started working on a better plan to rule India. They found that this outbreak was due to religious sentiments. The only way to ensure that no such thing happens again is to break the religious backbone of the people of India. The infamous “Divide and Rule” policy of British was tested to its extreme. One major decision taken during this course was to remove the copper plates from Amritsar, which read “Cows are not to be killed in Amritsar. The penalty of killing cow is death”. After removing these plates, a cow-slaughter house was approved in Amritsar, right next to the holy shrine of Sikhs, the Golden Temple. Similar slaughter houses came up in other areas of Punjab as well. The Kuka movement shook the British to an extend but was supressed after a series of incidents at Amritsar, Malerkotla and Raikot, where small batches of Kukas decided to go violent and take revenge on the slaughterhouses, which were butchering cows right next to the religious shrines. British took these incidents as an excuse and arrested Baba Ram Singh. He was sent to various prisons in India before finally being exiled to Burma, from where he never returned. He was kept in the same building, where Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India spent his last days. I earlier wrote an article about this Prison Palace of the Last Mughal. In coming days, I shall write about the episodes of Malerkotla and Amritsar, where Kukas went to massacre butchers and destroy slaughterhouses, after which they surrender themselves in courts and not only accepted capital punishments, but also went to fulfil the death penalties without any assistance. The village of Bhaini Sahib was converted into a Jail. The village earlier had a wall around it and there was only one gate to enter the village. The gate was sealed for over a decade and only a handful of people were allowed to go in or come out on a given day. Heavy checking at the entry made life of villagers very difficult and there was a time, when there was no food left and no material was allowed by the British inside the walls. In coming days, I shall write about these incidents in detail.

 

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Madhi Masjid, Mehrauli

This article is a part of My Delhi Expedition…

Didar-e-Dilli

 

MadhiMasjid(from-exterior)

As you move towards Jain Dada Badi in Mehrauli (from Andheria Mod), you will find a lonely, but different architecture Lodhi era structure, which has the features of an open wall-mosque as well as a covered mosque. Colored tiles have been used for decorating the flat-roofed chambers with arched openings on either side of the three central bays on the walls of the mosque. Strong walls enclose the courtyard with turrets in each corner giving the mosque the appearance of a miniature fortress. This supports the view that the Madhi Masjid served the purpose of both as a place of worship and was a watchtower to keep a tab on the movements of an alien army.

 

It has a huge burj like gate built on eastern side, which resembles hindu architecture. This place is a protected monument is kept locked by the Archeological Survey of India. But I somehow managed to get a very brief glimpse, while the guard was keeping an eye on me. The place was clean and lonely, rarely occupied by stray monkeys. I wonder why ASI has not included it into the Mehrauli Archeological Park, as it is adjacent to the premise.

 

Some clicks of Mosque…

 

Madhi-Masjid-3 Madhi-Masjid-Burj   Madhi-Masjid-Burj-Interior-2 Madhi-Masjid-Burj-Sideview Madhi-Masjid-Entrance Madhi-Masjid-OpenMosque   RoadView Madhi-Masjid-SideView-2 Madhi-Masjid-1 Madhi-Masjid-2 Madhi-Masjid-WindowMadhi-Masjid-SideViewMadhi-Masjid-Burj-Interior-1Madhi-Masjid-Burj-Gate

Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh

I have seen many forts including the Forts of Delhi, Kangra, Agra, Hyderabad and Siliserh (Alwar). But this one in Gwalior almost took my breath. In my entire life, only two forts have made me hold my breath and praise silently. These are Forts of Gwalior and Golconda (Hyderabad).

Gwalior_Fort

Gwalior_Fort_StairsI went to Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh – India) in 2004 or 2005. We were 5 guys, on a college trip, there to participate in a National Level College Fest. We got time and thought it might be a good idea to check out the famous Gwalior fort. We took a taxi, and he took us to the gates of fort. The taxi driver asked if we want a tour guide. We said no. We entered the gate and found ourselves at the bottom of thousands of meter long steep and tight road. On both sides of this road, were very high walls, fro m where any you can attack any enemy, without being hurt. Anyway, we started marching and continued to do so for nearly 1/2 hour. All we could see were huge walls of fort on both sides but the path was not ending.

Gwalior_Fort_MainEntryGwalior_Fort_Entry

Finally we reached another huge gate, which was having very nice blue paintings all over it. There was a big pit near the gate and a wooden plank was kept to cross it. When we entered that gate, we found a huge compound and on our right side, was standing the mighty fort with blue painting all over it. (see first picture of this post).

GurudwaraBandiChhod We were now so tired, that all we wanted was a place to rest. Then suddenly my attention went to the White Building on my left. Oh great, it was Gurudwara Bandi Chhor. This place has a very inspiring history. In 1619 AD, Sixth Guru of Sikhs were taken prisoner by the king of Gwalior. But soon, the king was so impressed by his talks, that he decided to release him. But Gurujee refused. He said, that there are 52 other kings of neighboring states, who are imprisoned in this fort. Release everyone. The King of Gwalior said, I will not release others. But, those who can hold the onto your gown (Chowla), can go. Then gurujee immediately ordered his sikhs to prepare him a huge gown. Once it was ready, Guru wore it and all 52 kings got space to hold the gown. This was the day of Diwali. From that very day, Every sikh celebrated Diwali as “Bandi Chhor Divas” (Day of liberation/freedom of Prisoners).

GurudwaraBandiChhod_Inside

So we reached this nice gurudwara and sat inside the hall for nearly 15-20 mins. When we were back to normal, we proceeded to have Lungar at gurudwara. It was truly refreshing.

GurudwaraBandiChhod_Palki

Then we moved to see the actual fort. Some guy near entrance asked us if we wanted a tour guide. We refused! When we were entering the fort, The gatekeeper asked us where is our tour guide, and we said we don’t need any. But by this time, we started thinking what is so special about tour guides. Anyway, we entered the fort. There was this nice big porch and stairs going down. We went downstairs and found another staircase to reach the second level of basement. We kept on finding stairs and kept on going down till we reached 4th level. The Gwalior fort has 6-7 levels of basement. Now we were standing in the Prison Room. A very foul smell was coming. It was total dark and we were lost. We tried every gate and window. But every time, we ended up in reaching same prison room. There were small holes in roof and floor. We could see other basement levels. But we were not able to go there. Bats were flying on our head and they were scaring us like anything. Then we heard a tourist group and ran towards them. Their tourist guide was explaining about the fort and told that it is designed in such a way that prisoners can never get out of this level. Levels below this are even ferocious and dangerous. We just walked behind this tour group, came out and ran out of the fort. We didn’t even bothered to see the rest of Fort. We just reached the exit, took a taxi, headed for railway station, and took a train to Agra.

Gwalior_Fort_Foot MyFriends

But I must say…

Hats off to Architects of Gwalior Fort.

Murthal, Sonepat (Haryana)

I went to this nice peaceful place near Murthal in Sonepat, Haryana. This is a nice “Ashram” slightly inside the National Highway 1 (GT Road). The greenery and peacefulness of this place simply cast its spell on me. Here are some pictures of same…

Lawn_2 Pathway_3 Complex Pathway_1 Hall ResidentialBlock Lawn BuddhaStatue Pathway_2 Pathway_4

Dalai Lama Temple, McLeodganj

HH_DalaiLamaIt was my pleasure, that I got a chance to visit His Holiness Dalai Lama’s temple at McLeodganj. I have been to Dharamshal and McLeodganj many times. But I went to temple only twice. I hope to see His Holiness some day as well.

When I went there in 2007 with my friend Vinay, we decided to stop for a cup of coffee outside the temple. When we finished our coffee, we saw hundreds of  Buddhist monks coming out of the temple. We felt so sorry because we had missed a chance to see the ceremony and wasted 30 minutes. We could have probably seen Dalai Lama as well.

Here are some pictures from that mighty place…

BuddhaStatue DalaiLamaTemple_Hall DalaiLamaTemple_Interior DalaiLamaTemple_2

TempleLawn Temple_inside

Temple TempleLawn_Flag

TibetianMeuseum

There is this nice museum outside the temple. This museum contains many artifacts and literature from Tibet. The walls of this museum are covered with banners telling the sad story of how China attacked on Tibet and conquered the land.

Tibet was having very small force. These peace loving people were forced to fight against huge army of china. Then the Tibetan government, including Dalai Lama, were forced to leave their homeland. Indian government then gave them place in Dharamshala, and today, this place is as peaceful as heaven.

A Must Visit Place…

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, Masroor

Ekasham Shailkritya Mandir Samooh, or the Rock Cut Temples of Masroor, Kangra are one of the most magnificent temples I ever visited. It is an outstanding example of monolithic temples in Himalyan region. The entire complex comprises of more than 15 temple shikhars and a large water pond. The beauty of this place is that everything here has been craved out of sand stone rocks. There was a huge hill, and people of 8th or 9th Century, beautifully carved that hill into a series of temples.

Masroor-Temple

Unfortunately, this entire complex was destroyed in a very major earthquake, that almost devastated entire Kangra valley in 1905. Archeological Survey of India has tried its best to save this place. In 1914, this place was declared as a national monument.

Masroor-Temple-back

You can find debris of this majestic Temple all around the complex. One can image, how beautiful this place might be around 1200 years ago, when people were not advance enough to work on such huge projects. This could have been the wonder of that time.

It is a real sad thing to see this nice place destroyed due to earthquake .

Masroor-Temple-Thakurdwara In the center of the complex, stands the principal and the most elaborately carved shrine, the thakurdwara, enshrining the black stone image of lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, facing east. I must mention that at this place, I saw the largest lizard in my life. I first thought it to be a small Comodo Dragon, but later realized that it is just a large himalyan species from lizard family.

Masroor-Inside_Temple

This place is few Km away from the main Kangra City. It lies in a village called Masroor. It took us around 2-3 hours to reach there from McLeodganj (Dharamshala) by car. We passed the Main Kangra Bus Stop and Kangra Airport on way to this place.

Masroor-Temple-Climb Masroor-Temple-inside Masroor-Temple-side

Masroor-Temple-History

Galu Devi Temple, near Dharamkot

Galu-Devi-Temple

I went there in 2007. When you start from McLeodganj towards dharamkot, you will find a pleasant scenic view. Soon you will reach Dharamkot, which is a really nice place to be. You cross dharamkot and reach at a height of 2130 mts. and find yourself in a ridge covered with high trees and hills. A small temple of Galu Devi stands there. This is the place, where vehicles stop, and a tough journey of Triund starts. This time, we came back from Galu Devi, but I hope, that next time, I will reach Triund. Here are few pics from this nice small place…

At-Galu-Devi-Hill At-Galu-Devi-Temple

McLeodganj-from-Galu-DeviThis picture is of McLeodganj, as it is seen from Galu Devi Hill top

On-Way-to-Galu-Devi-TempleAh, picture I took on way to Dharamkot. The road is very narrow, but it is a different experience all together. You will surely love it.

Takht Sri Kesgarh, Anadpur

I love this place…

I am talking about the holy place, where Khalsa commune was born in 1699. 10th spiritual master of sikhs turned entire sikh community to Khalsa, which was a warrior commune. Today, there stands the mighty takht, called Gurudwara Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

Kesgarh-night

Anadpur City is called the White City. It is a very nice place to visit in Punjab, India. Festival of Baisakhi is very popular in north India. It was the baisakhi of 1699 AD, when 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee formed the khalsa by baptizing 5 of his disciples. The city of Anandpur was founded by Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s father, the 9th Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Jee in 1665. The land was purchased by guru jee on May 13th, 1665, guru purchased this land from the queen of bilaspur, Rani Champa on a payment of Rupees 500. Soon, Baba Gurditta Jee, whose gurudwara is also nearby, helped raise this village, which at that time was known as chakk nanki (on name of mother of guru nanak). Later this place was known as Anadpur Sahib.

Kila-Anandgarh You can find several gurudwaras in here. And there is one fort, known as Qila Anandgarh Sahib. This is very solid fortification on a hill top, that is safe from enemy. This place saw many valor combats. A very famous episode of Bhai Ghannaiya Jee also happened nearby. Bhai Ghannaiya Jee offered water to enemy soldiers who were dying of thirst in battle field. When he was reported to gurujee, Bhai Ghannaiya said “Oh lord, I can’t make a difference between our soldiers and enemies because for me, everyone is all mighty’s child and I see your face in everyone”. Guru Jee was very happy with this and rewarded him.

Takht-Kesgarh-(Front) Takht-Kesgarh

This is the main complex, the Takht Kesgarh Sahib gurudwara, where Khalsa was born in 1699. Inside gurudwara, you will find all weapons of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, and the Ranjit Nagara, the largest drum that was used in war days.

In 1999, when sikhim celebrated 300 years of formation of khalsa, almost every sikh from around the world reached kesgarh. I also went there in form of a procession. All the namdharis reached at kesgarh in cars, jeeps, busses, bikes or whatever moe they found. We were covering entire road in white color and there were thousands of us. Our huge fleet was welcomed with song…

“Jee Ayan Nu, Jee Ayan Nu, Guru Gobind Singh De Jaiyan Nu”

Means, welcome, oh sons of guru gobind singh.

Hola mahallah of Anadpur Sahib is most famous. The festival of holi (Holla Mahalla) is celebrated with a difference in here. You can see Nihung Warriors gathering from all over country and showing their martial art and fighting skills. You can see warriors riding many horses at a time, or fighting with dozens of soldiers alone.

And how can I miss the beautiful view of Naina Devi Temple from gurudwara. In night, you can see lights of Naina Devi temple from this gurudwara, which in itself is a mesmerizing feel. A little ahead of Anadpur, the is Nangal Barriage, which is a part of Bhakhra Nangal Project. Entire area is green and so silent and peaceful, that it will almost hypnotize you.

Don’t miss this place.

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