Historical sites in Gujrat crumbling
By Mansoor Butt
GUJRAT The historical sites in Gujrat are crumbling and the district government has made no arrangements to preserve and protect the rich heritage for future generations.
According to historians, Gujrat was founded by Bacchan Pal, a Hindu prince who migrated from the Ganga valley and settled near the Jhelum and Chenab in 460 BC. He became captivated with the beauty of the area, calling it Oudhay Nagri, or the city of eternal perfume. Later, Raja Bhadar Sen’s wife Rani Gujjran rebuilt the old city and gave it the name of Gujjar Nagar. However, General Cunningham, a British historian and researcher, claimed that Ali Khan, the chief of the Gujjar clan, rebuilt Gujjar Nagar and renamed it Ulkhana, which was destroyed by Shankar Verma between 888 to 901 AD. The area was largely Hindu until 1011 AD, when Mehmood Ghaznavi, on his sixth attempt, invaded and sacked the city. Gujrat was again rebuilt and Bhalole Lodhi founded the first Muslim government in 1453 AD. A town named Bhalolepur after him refers to the founding of the first Muslim city in the region. No local chiefs tried to expand or consolidate its domestic and political government until Mughal Emperor Akbar, who laid the foundation for Gujrat city in 1580 and appointed Dasnat Roy and Wazir Khan Mughal to supervise the construction work.
Ganesh Das Wadera, a historian, in his book Chahar Bagh Punjab says that Gujrat was founded in 1589 and Nadir Shah destroyed the city in 1738. Ahmed Shah Durrani than conquered Gujrat in 1741 and appointed Muqarrab Khan as its governor. After that Kaka Singh, Charhat Singh and Gujjar Singh were the prominent Sikh rulers of Gujrat from 1765 to 1787.
The Gujrat Fort in Khawajgan, constructed in 1596-7 by Akbar, reflects the beauty of Mughal architecture and is facing extinction. The fort had eight gates, prominent among them the Kabuli Gate facing Kabul, the Faisal Gate, Shahdoula Gate, named after famous saint Kabiruddin Shahdoula Daryai, Kalra Gate, named after a shanty town on the outskirts of the fort, and the Shishianwala Gate, which was famous for the glass work carved on its roof. However, Professor Sharif Kunjahi, a local historian, argues that the word “Shishi” is a Scandinavian word for graveyard. Hence, there would have been a graveyard near the gate and the name stuck to it with the passage of time.
Mahraja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of Punjab, captured Gujrat in 1810 and renovated Shishianwala Gate in 1835. The gates now exist in name only, except Shahdoula Gate, which is deteriorating gradually. The resident of the area are also responsible for the deteriorating condition of the gate, throwing their garbage near the site.
Various other buildings, like the public bath, known as Akbari Hamaam, was also constructed adjacent to the fort.
According to the Gujrat Gazetteer (1893-4), Jalalpur Jattan city was founded by a Gujjar named Jalal and Kula Chor, and a place in Jalalpur Jattan, was built by Chander Gupt Morya, an Indian ruler in 300 BC. Excavations in the area revealed that Kula Chor was the mint of the Moryan Dynasty. A fort was also built at Islamgarh, near Karianwala, known as Islamgarh Fort. Mahaja Ranjit Singh also built his mint here in 1828.
The origin of Karianwala is still a mystery for local historians, but documents of the local revenue department say that Saiy Satwan, a slave of Qutbuddin Aibak, built the town in 1206-7 AD. Masami Mahbu consolidated the base with the name ‘Akbarabad’ during the reign of Akbar. The descendants of Masami thrived in this village and built more towns in the suburbs of Karianwala.
The locality of Begumpura is also of historical importance. According to historians, a girl was born in the home of Chitar Sen, a Hindu prince of Rajour during the reign of Shah Jehan (1628-1658). During that time, all female children were killed in Sen’s family, but he loved the baby and decided to break with tradition. In distress, he came to Shahdoula Daryai for advice. He named the girl Raj Bai and told Sen that his daughter would be the mother of the rulers of India. Bai grew up and married Aurangzeb, the son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. She gave birth to Moazzam Shah and Mohammad Shah, popularly knows as Bahaddur Shah, the last Mughal ruler of India. Raj Bai was buried near the Shrine of Shahdoula.
Dinga, a small city, was called Shah Jehanpur and was founded by Chaudhry Wali Dad. It was given the name Dinga because of its narrow streets.
The local government should ask the Archaeology Department to conserve and protect these historical sites and establish a museum on the rich heritage of Gujrat.