Thursday 23 August 2018

085 - Sagri - Where "Their Sincerity Still Exists"

On a beautiful sunny winter day, I planned an excursion to the Potohar region. One of the places on my list was Sagri, a small town in district Rawalpindi, just 30 kms from the Zero Point of Islamabad. I was expecting to find a significant haveli of a Sikh Sardar. His name was probably Ratan Singh, as I read on some sources available on the internet. To my great disappointment, the haveli had totally been demolished and only a crumbling structure of probably an adjoining shop existed. Which I completely forgot to take pictures of in a mood of disappointment. 

The mission looked like a complete failure. But luckily while taking the pictures of two small Hindu temples (33°27'37.54"N;  73°15'52.62"E) near the centre of the town, we met Mr Riaz. He was just three or four years old in 1947 but had heard a lot from his elders about the people of different faiths living together in Sagri. 

Twin temples in Sagri. (14.12.2016.)

Another view of the two small temples. (14.12.2016.)

First of all Riaz sahib took us to the location of the aforementioned haveli and told us about its demolition a few years back. After sensing our disappointment, he raised our spirits by hurriedly taking us to a nearby old gurdwara. The building, or whatever is remaining of it, is in a poor condition. The building was used for some time as a school but now it is totally abandoned. He could not inform us of the date of construction. But the concrete roof, clearly indicates that it was constructed not long before the partition. We found some plaques inside the gurdwara in memory of those people who contributed to different services. But now dates are written on the plaques. Which is an unusual practice. 

Compound and the main building of the old gurdwara. (14.12.2016.)

The main hall of the gurdwara. (14.12.2016.)

Concrete roof of the hall. (14.12.2016.)

This heap of rubble probably was the Takht (throne) where sacred book Guru Granth sahib was once kept.  (14.12.2016.)

Raja Muhammad Riaz Sahib in the compound of the gurdwara. (14.12.2016.)

51 ਰੁਪਏ  ਭ: ਅਰਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ 
ਸਪੁਤ੍ਰ  ਭਾਈ ਲਖਾ  ਸਿੰਘ  
ਆਪੜੇੰ  ਸੁਵਾਰਗ  ਬਾਸ਼ੀ ਭ੍ਰਾਤਾ 
ਸ੍ਰ: ਨਾਨਕ ਸਿੰਘ 
ਦੀ ਯਾਦਗਾਰ ਵਿਚ 
ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰਾਈ 

51 روپے بھائی ارجن سنگھ
سپُتر بھائی لکھا سنگھ
آپڑیں سورگ باشی بھراتا
سردار نانک سنگھ
دی یادگار وچ ارداس کرائی۔

51 Rs were offered for Ardas (prayer) by Bhai Arjan Singh son of Bhai Lakha Singh, for his brother in the heavenly abode  Sardar Nanak Singh's memory. 

----- ਸੁਵਾਰਗ  ਬਾਸ਼ੀ 
ਸਪੁਤਰਨੀ ਲੱਛਮੀ  ਦੇਵੀ 
ਯਾਦਗਾਰ ਵਿਚ 
ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰਾਏ  ਆ।

______ سورگ باشی
سپُترنی لچھمی دیوی
یادگار وچ
ارداس کرائی آ۔ 

_________ arranaged Ardas (prayer) for his / her daughter in the heavenly abode, Lachmi Devi's memory. 

101 ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ 
ਸ੍ਰਦਾਰ _________ਸਰਦਾਰ 
ਜਵਾਹਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਪੁਤ੍ਰ 
ਚੌਧਰੀ  ਸਰਦਾਰ ਹਰਨਾਮ ਸਿੰਘ 
_____________ ਸੁਰਗ ਬਾਸ਼ੀ 
ਕਾਕਾ ਮਾਨ ਸਿੰਘ 
ਯਾਦਗਾਰ ਵਿਚ 

101 روپے دی سیوا
سردار __________  سردار
جواہر سنگھ سُپتر
چودھری سردار ہرنام سنگھ
_____________ سُوَرگ باشی
کاکا مان سنگھ
یادگار وِچ 

A service of Rs 101 was rendered by Sardar __________ Sardar Jawahar Singh son of Chaudhry Harnam Singh _______________ in memory of Kaka Maan Singh in the heavenly abode. 

1 ਓਂਕਾਰ 

31  ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਾਏ 
ਚੌਧਰੀ  ਦੀਦਾਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ 
ਕੋਹਲੀ ਸਗਰੀ ਨੇ 
ਅਪਣੇ  ਪਿਤਾ ਚੌਧਰੀ 
ਚੰਦਾ  ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ 
ਦੀ ਯਾਦ ਵਿਚ 

اِک اونکار
31 روپے سیوا کرائی 
چودھری دیدار سنگھ جی
کوہلی ساگری نے
  آپڑیں پِتا چودھری
چندا سنگھ جی
دی یاد وچ۔

(۳۱ روپے سیوا کرائی چودھری دیدار سنگھ جی کوہلی ساگری نے اپنے پتا چودھری چندا سنگھ جی کی یاد میں)

31 Rs were offered in service by Chaudhry Didar Singh ji Kohli Sagri in memory of his father Chaudhry Chanda Singh. 

Riaz sahib, despite his age, is a very active man. He took us just outside the town and showed us a huge water tank. According to him the tank is almost three centuries old and was built by a very rich Hindu trader for the public use. It was filled with rain water. He also informed that public baths also existed nearby, but now have completely vanished. He also told us a legend related to the construction of this tank. One day the Hindu trader came to check the progress of the work, he noticed the Muslim labourers offering their prayer at the side of the pond, but not prallel to the tank. On asking the reason, he was informed that the tank is not aligned to the direction to the holy Kaaba, in Makkah. On hearing this, the gentleman ordered to construct the tank in alignment with the direction to Kaaba. He was all praise for Hindus for their politeness and their philanthropic spirit. But I also felt an undercurrent of resentment, when he informed that the whole trade was in the hands of Hindus and Sikhs and the Muslims were generally very poor. The tank is located at  33°27'54.61"N;  73°15'47.69"E, spread over an area of 1.5 acres.

An old water tank in Sagri. (14.12.2016).

A view of the vast tank. (14.12.2016).

Sides of the tank lined with hewn stones. (14.12.2016).

Stairs leading to the water level. (14.12.2016).

Broadsides of the water tank. (14.12.2016).

The tank is still in a reasonably good shape. 

Though not in a proper use, the tank still stores some rainwater. 

A side view of the tank. (14.12.2016).

After showing us the tank, Riaz Sahib took us to the other side of the town to the Khalsa High School. It is another example of nuemrous educational institutes built all over the Punajb by the Sikh community. It clearly showed their interest in education. At the gate we informed the guard, armed with a most modern looking rifle, our purpose of visit. After taking the permission from the Principal he allowed us in. We were welcomed by principal Mr Malik Haq Nawaz and his deputy Mr Masood Ahmad Bhatti. Principal sahib informed us that the building was nearly a hundred years old. I asked him about  any plaque or writing on the building. His answer was unforgettable "Nothing (plaques etc.) has survived but their sincerity still exists." He also pointed out the better construction standard as compare to the new section. 

Govt. Boys' Higher Secondary School, Sagri. (Khalsa High School of the past) (14.12.2016).

(L to R) Mr Masood Ahmed Bhatti (vice principal), Mr Malik Haq Nawaz (principal) and myself.  (14.12.2016).

The old building of the school. (14.12.2016).

Beautiful facade of the building. (14.12.2016).

Old and new sections, both can been seen. (14.12.2016).

Another view of the beautifully constructed building. (14.12.2016).

Veranda of the school. (14.12.2016).

There is a small but very neat and clean village Mohra Bhattan near Sagri. There we saw an old Hindu temple. This beautiful example of architecture should be preserved. It is located at 33°29' 7"N;  73°15'46" E.

A small temple at Mohra Bhottan - (14.12.2016)

Sagri is an old town and there must be many more interesting stories to be discovered and things to be explored. But my attention was fixed on the historic Buddhist stupa at Mankiala, less than three kilometers from Sagri, another neglected historic monument of Pakistan. So as often happens, lack of time forced me to leave Sagri in a hurry with a sense of incomplete work. For the exact locations, please refer to the map given below.

Tariq AmirAugust 23, 2018.Doha - Qatar.