Friday 2 December 2016

A Tale Of Three Old Havelis of Punjab (Haveli Bara Dari of Sardar Gurmukh Singh Ji)

As it often happens we sometime make unintended discoveries. Similarly while roaming about in rural Punjab in search of old battlefields, graves of forgotten warriors, abandoned gurdwaras and temples and tombs of people lost in history, I made some interesting discoveries. 

One of those are three beautiful havelis which I found during my different expeditions. I don't know much about their history. But hopefully some reader will add to our knowledge.

The first haveli was discovered by me on 23 August, 2015, near Mandi Bahauddin. I was going to Chillianwala and due to a wrong turn I came on this road. Monsoon season was on its peak and there was just one colour all around and that was green. While enjoying beautiful scenes (but suffering horrible humidity in my rickety a quarter century old car), this haveli just beside the road, caught my eyes. We met a young man near the haveli and he told us that the real owners were not living in it and they were just caretakers. He happily allowed us to enter the haveli, which is nearly abandoned and in poor condition. He did not know anything about the history of this haveli. But the style of the construction shows that it was built in the early decades of the 20th century. The most beautiful thing about the haveli is its location, which is situated in open fields and gives an impressive look. It is located near Chak Basawa, at  32°34'35.79"N,  73°34'9.87"E. 

A view of the haveli. 23.08.2015.
(Haveli Bara Dari of Sardar Gurmukh Singh ji)

Another view. 23.08.2015.
(Haveli Bara Dari of Sardar Gurmukh Singh ji)

Upper floor of the haveli. 23.08.2015.

 2nd floor. 23.08.2015.

A big room on the first floor. 23.08.2015.

Fireplace in the room. 23.08.2015.

Beautiful fields around the haveli. 23.08.2015.

Front yard of the haveli. My darling car is also visible. 23.08.2015.

The top floor of the haveli. 23.08.2015.

A side view of the haveli. 23.08.2015.

A very old well near the haveli. 23.08.2015.

Well near the haveli. 23.08.2015.

View of the haveli from the location of the well. 23.08.2015.
(Haveli Bara Dari of Sardar Gurmukh Singh ji)

Update: (15.09.2020.)

Exactly five years after my visit to this haveli, a Facebook friend Mr Colonel (Rtd.) Harjeet Singh Lamba, currently residing in Chandigarh, Punjab, India, mentioned of a haveli near Mandi Bahauddin. His ancestors were Sardars of neaby Qilla Attar Singh and later moved to this haveli. I recalled visiting such a haveli near Chak Basawa and provided the link to colonel sahib. He immediately recognized his ancestral home and provided more details to me. This was the first time in 73 years that they saw their home, because they had no pictures of this home. It was a great moment for him and his family and to me as well. He also writes a blog and wrote the following post about this discovery:

Sardar Harkrishan Singh Lamba-Founder of The Haveli Bara Dari.

Colonel (Rtd.) Harjeet Singh Lamba. 

The same day, I visited another beautiful old house in Dinga. To be frank it was not totally an accidental discovery, but I did not have much information about its location. This is haveli of a rich Hindu merchant Sunder Das. The main building is in a good condition, at least from the outside. We could not enter the building, because the gardener working in the lawn informed us that the owner does not like to be disturbed during his afternoon siesta. But the old spacious garden around the haveli is almost totally destroyed. As the different portions have been sold, in this thickly populated locality. We took a few pictures and ran to our next target. This haveli is located at  32°38'1.80"N,  73°43'14.87"E. 

Luckily I found a video uploaded on a facebook page of Save Historical Places of Pakistan. According the video the current owner of this beautiful small palace is Rao Sajid Iqbal, who's grandfather migrated from Delhi. It was built by Rai Bahadur Sunder Das Chopra a rich Hindu businessman in 1918. Who was a contractor abd supplier working for the British Army. The total area of the haveli was 40 kanals (5 acres) and it was surrounded by gardens, including two guest houses.  You can see the video at the following link:

Sunder Mahal, Dinga. 23.08.2016.

A passage to Sunder haveli, Dinga. 23.08.2016.

An entrance to the haveli. 23.08.2016.

A side view. 23.08.2016. 

Sunder Mahal. 23.08.2016.

Beautiful garden of the haveli. 23.08.2016.

View of another side. 23.08.2016.

Old guest house of the haveli. 23.08.2016.

Last of the these three havelis is in a Small village of Mukhiana. This too was most probably built about a century ago. While in Kheiwa, looking for the mosque of Mirza Sahiban, our "guide" noticed my interest and offered to guide us to an old haveli. It is situated in a village called Mukhiana, 5 kilometers off the Jhang - Chiniot road, at  31°23'12.86"N,  72°27'48.41"E.

Front view of the haveli in Mukhiana. 22.03.2016.

Full view of the haveli, and its lawns. 22.03.2016.

 West wing of the haveli. 22.03.2016.

Old entrance of the haveli. 22.03.2016.

View from the east side of the haveli. 

Backside of the haveli. Our guide told us that visiting British officers were received and welcomed at this place. 22.03.2016.

Another view of the stage. 22.03.2016.

A room in the haveli. 22.03.2016.

Another view of a big room. 22.03.2016.

Veranda in front of the haveli. 22.03.2016.

Beautiful wooden ceiling of the main room. 22.03.2016.

Roof used to be high, to keep the air cool. 22.03.2016.

Another section of the haveli. 22.03.2016.

It seems that there used to be many doors in every room. Perhaps to keep the airy and cool. 22.03.2016.

On the roof of the ground floor. 22.03.2016.

A narrow veranda in front of rooms on the first floor. 22.03.2016.

A beautiful room on the first floor. 22.03.2016.

Beautifully painted walls. 22.03.2016.

View from the roof of the first floor. 22.03.2016.

It is a very beautiful structures and rooms are big and airy. With lots of doors, windows and openings for ventilation. I was informed that this haveli belongs to Bharwana family.They are big landlords and their newly constructed mansions are situated nearby. 

That's all I could find about these havelis. Again I extend my invitation to all my readers to share their knowledge, pertaining to these above mentioned places. 

Tariq Amir

December 2, 2016.

Doha - Qatar. 

Sunday 20 November 2016

Rajesh Khanna & His Ancestral Hometown Burewala

My first memory of Rajesh Khanna is his blockbuster song, Mere Sapnon Ki Rani Kab Aaye Gi Tu, singing in an open four wheel drive for beautiful Sharmila Tagore. With Sujit Kumar in the driving seat. The song is from the film Aradhna 1969, but was still very popular many years later in the late 1970s. By then, though successful, heydays of his glory had passed and Amitabh Bachchan was the super star of Bollywood. I along with probably all boys of my age, were huge fans of Amitabh. 

Rajehs Khanna and Surjit Kumar in one of the most popular songs of Indian Cinema,  Mere Sapnon ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu. Aradhana, 1969.

Beautiful Sharmila Tagore, apparently oblivious of all the efforts of Rajesh to woo her, busy in reading her book (or pretending to be!). 

However, in my later years, I came to appreciate and fully realize the reasons behind the stupendous fame enjoyed by Rajesh Khanna in late 60s and early 70s. An actor for whom the term super star was originally coined. Dozens of the most beautiful songs in the history of Bollywood were filmed on Rajesh Khanna and he had a special forte in this field. With any fear of contradiction, it can be claimed that no other actor has a greater number of beautiful songs picturised on him than Rajesh Khanna.  

After a long and successful career in cinema, this legendary actor died on 18 July, 2012. When a famous actor dies, his or her fans feel an era of their own lives have also passed with his or her death. Rajesh Khanna was one of those actors, whose death can be said as the end of an era. Many famous actors of 50s and 60s have died in recent years, but nobody drew as much attention as the news of his death. It was a Breaking News and made headlines for many days. Even the PM of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf sent a message of condolence on behalf of millions of his fans on this side of the border. 

Rajesh Khanna died in Mumbai. But the question arose where was he born? I knew from my previous readings that he was born in Amritsar on 29 December, 1942. But a startling piece of news came up that he was actually born in Burewala, a small town in Pakistani Punjab. Then this news was obviously of a great interest to me. It was claimed in the news which appeared in media, including the website of Times of Inda, that his father Lala Heera Nand Khanna was the first headmaster of MC High School Burewala and Rajesh Khanna was born in H Block of Burewala. A picture of the house was also given and it was claimed that the Jatin Bhawan is engraved on the house. Jatin was the original name of Rajesh Khann. I decided to investigate further on the first given opportunity. 

So finally on the morning of 23 March, 2016, I found myself in front of this house.  Due to early morning time and holiday for Pakistan Day the shops were close and there were not many people around. But young men in the street had no doubt about the location of the house. Indeed it was the same house, painted in yellow, which I saw on the website of Times of India. But quickly doubts arose in my mind, fortunately I can read a little bit of Hindi and read it clearly that the name of the house engraved on the front door is Jetendr Bhawan. Due to early morning I decided not to disturb them. Besides that I had a deadline to meet too. (Location: 30° 9'29.91"N,  72°40'59.80"E)

Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

 Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

 Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

 Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Jetendr Bhawan - H Block Burewala: 23.03.2016.

I took some pictures of the house and went to see a Hindu Temple just across the street. It is a big complex that houses many shops, a mosque and even a police station. I entered the police station and after getting permission, I took some pictures. The temple is in a very good condition. Actually Hindus had to leave it just before its completion. The spire still shows signs of pending work. All other sections seem to be complete and in very good condition. Even the paintings of the Hindu deities are in a remarkably good condition, considering the passage of a long time. (Location: 30° 9'30.97"N,  72°40'59.32"E)

Incomplete Spire of the temple - Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Outer wall of the temple - Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Another View: 23.03.2016.

Main building of the temple: 23.03.2016.

Another view of the main building: 23.03.2016.

Incomplete Spire of the temple: 23.03.2016.

Temple: 23.03.2016.

A hall in the temple: 23.03.2016.

Probably the main prayer room. 23.03.2016.

Inside view of the spire: 23.03.2016.

Paintings of the Hindu deities: 23.03.2016.

Paintings of the Hindu deities: 23.03.2016.

Venrada of the main building: Paintings of the Hindu deities: 23.03.2016.

Another view of the veranda: Paintings of the Hindu deities: 23.03.2016.

Entrance of the Temple complex, now housing a police station: Paintings of the Hindu deities: 23.03.2016.

So far I was not satisfied with the result of this research. My next destination was MC High School Burewala. I was not very hopeful of getting some concrete information from there as well. But when I entered the school the first pleasant surprise was a very beautiful garden of the school. I spoke to some teachers and they took me to the office of deputy Head Master of the school, as the head master was on some official visit. Deputy HM, immediately confirmed that Lala Heera Nand Khanna was the first Head Master of the school. Despite being a busy day, as they were preparing for a function in connection with the Pakistan Day, he was very cooperative. On his directions a teacher took me to their spacious staff room. And there I found Lala Heera Nand Khanna's name written on many boards, as the the first and the longest serving headmaster of this school from 1 April, 1931 to 28 March, 1947, just before the partition. (30° 9'44.11"N,  72°41'4.94"E)

MC High School Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Beautiful garden of the school. 

Deputy Headmaster of the MC High  School Burewala: 23.03.2016.

Pictures of previous headmasters in the staff room of the school. Apparently picture of Lala Heera Nand Khanna was not available, so a picture of candle spreading the light of knowledge is given, with his name. 

 On top of the board, on the right side, name of Heera Nand Khanna is written and his time of service is given as 1.4.1931 to 28.3.1947. His education qualification is mentioned as BA SAV.  23.03.2016.

Beautiful garden of the school. 23.03.2016.

Another view of the garden. 23.03.2016.

Old portion of the school. 23.03.2016.

Another courtyard in the school. 23.03.2016.

Playground of the MC High School Burewala. 23.03.2016.

Main entrance of the school. 23.03.2016.

So where was Rajesh Khanna born, in Burewala or Amritsar? I think only his family can confirm it. However, one thing is clear that he had a strong connection with this place and most probably lived here for a considerable time in his childhood. His father was headmaster of this school until 28.3.1947, so his family was here until just a few months before the partition. Rajesh Khanna has two daughters Twinkle Khanna and Rinke Khanna, both are actresses and so is their mother Dimple Kapadia. Husband of Twinkle Khanna, Akshye Kumar himself is a successful actor.

I request my readers to share any information that they may have on this subject. 

Tariq Amir

November 20, 2016.

Doha - Qatar.