Tuesday 11 December 2018

096 - An old garden at Qila Mian Singh, Gujranwala. (Qila Mihan Singh)

About ten kilometers from Gujranwala, there is a village known as Qila Mian Singh. Now word Qila in Arabic / Urdu / Punjabi means fort. So I thought there could be a fort or remnants of an old fort. A search on the internet indeed showed some old structures in the village. To further probe into the matter I marked this place and finally reached there on 24th of July, 2018. 

I found no signs of any fort but a boundary wall of probably a garden still exists. It is a huge compound in a square shape, with each side measuring 150 meters, encompassing an area of over 5 acres. The walls are deteriorating and some portions have fallen. The land inside the boundary walls is now cultivated and there are no signs of any garden. It is at located at 32° 6' 0.09" N;  74° 4' 42.62" E.

However, two buildings or rather one and half a buildings still exist inside. One is probably a smadhi and the other is a portion of now mostly collapsed baradari. 

The above two pictures are of a Samadhi in the garden. (24.07.2018.)

The boundary wall, with buttresses.  (24.07.2018.)

The above three pictures of paintings depicting different scenes of a story. 

Paintings of Kokila or Koyal, a bird representing singers. 

It was intriguing to see a graffiti in Hindi inside the samadhi, The word Ram is repeatedly written here. On the left side of the human figure, Dwarka Nath Dham is written. 

It is obvious that it was written much later. Most probably much after the partition and maybe not a very long time ago. But it is difficult to guest that who could have written it. It was more probable to find something in Gurmukhi, the script Sikhs use to write Punjabi. Anyway, Dwarka is a famous temple in Indian state of Gujarat and one of the four dhams or holy places of Hindus, the other three being Badrinath, Puri and Rameswaram.

Word Ram is repeatedly written here. 

Frescoes inside the samadhi depicting scenes from mythology. (24.07.2018.)

A few more sections of the boundary wall. (24.07.2018.)

The above few pictures are of a baradari style building, major portion of which already has collapsed. (24.07.2018.)

A buttress at one of the corners of the boundary wall. (24.07.2018.)

I do not have much information about the garden or Mian Singh himself (some sources suggest the name as Mihan Singh, that makes more sense). I found the following words about him in an article in Dawn newspaper:
Mian Singh di Haveli inside Yakki Gate was taken over by the British in 1849. This modest ‘haveli’ belonged to the Sikh chieftain of the Sukherchakia Misl of Gujranwala, and Mian Singh had a stronghold there which is still named Qila Mian Singh, just near Qila Didar Singh.
The above mentioned article, titled "Amazing speed of the British after taking Lahore", was written by Mr Majid Sheikh and published on 24 May, 2015. The link is given below:


So it can be safely assumed that Mian Singh, a chieftain of Sukerchakia Misl, lived during the last half of the eighteenth century and due to his services was granted a jagir in this area. The power of Sikhs rose in this region in the 1760s. And perhaps he himself or his descendants built this huge garden, of which only a few traces survive today. But perhaps will not survive for long, because apparently it is not on the radar of any government department and there is no protection or maintenance. 

The above two pictures were taken by Mr Ijaz Ahmad Mughal, most probably just a few years ago and uploaded on Panoramio. These clearly show the baradari in its complete shape. Now two thirds of it have collapsed. This show how bad is the condition and definitely, all traces will disappear very soon. 

At the end, I would like to thank my colleague, Mr Sameer Kashinath, who helped me in reading the graffiti in Hindi and understanding the paintings inside the Samadhi. Though this structure looks like a Samadhi, but in his opinion, it may not be a Samadhi because decorations were hardly allowed in a Samadhi. 

I hope some readers will add to our knowledge about this place.

Update: 17.06.2021.
A few months ago Mr Arv Singh ji, who is one of the descendants of Sardar Mahan Singh ji, provided some information about this place. He confirmed that the name of the place is actually Qila Mihan Singh. Perhaps due to mispronunciation people started calling it Mian Singh, as it is known today. You can see his comments below.

Tariq Amir

December 11, 2018.
Doha - Qatar. 

Monday 3 December 2018

095 - Gurudwara Bhai Lalu Ji, Tatlay Aali, Gujranwala

ِIn my quest for forgotten or "lost" places I reached a small town called Tatlay Aali, district Gujranwala, on July 22, 2018. I was looking for a Gurdwara known as Gurdwara Bhai Lalu Ji, in Tatlay Aali. But I was told that the gurdwara is in a nearby small locality Dinpur. It is a small village and everybody knew about the existence of this gurudwara. Anyway, it is such a lofty building that it can be seen from far away, though completely surrounded by houses. The gurudwara is located at  31°59'41.48"N;  74° 8'43.41"E

Mr Iqbal Qaiser in his book "Historical Sikhs Shrines in Pakistan", has given the following description of this gurudwara:
Gurdwara Bhai Lalu Ji is in Village Tatlay Aali of district Gujranwala. This Village is situated on the road going westward from Kamoke and the Gurdwara of Bhai Lalu Ji is in the center of the Village. It was built in 1939 AD through the effort of Bhai Lal Singh Ji and the funds of Sikh Sangats settled in Africa. The building is 3 storeyed and has domes. At present Government Primary School is housed in it. The building is strong but in the absence of maintenance its condition is deteriorating.


Gurdwara Bhai Lalu Ji, Tatlay Aali. (22.07.2018.)

Gurdwara Bhai Lalu Ji, Tatlay Aali. (22.07.2018.)

Gurdwara Bhai Lalu Ji, Tatlay Aali, one of the four entrances. (22.07.2018.)

The main hall of the gurdwara. (22.07.2018.)

A view from the ground. (22.07.2018.)

Arches on the first floor, a view from the ground. (22.07.2018.)

Interior of the main ground. (22.07.2018.)

The first floor of the gurdwara has corridors on the four sides. Which can be seen in the pictures above. (22.07.2018.)

Arches on the first floor. (22.07.2018.)

As can be seen, the gurdwara though solidly built, is currently in a very bad shape. I think that the construction work stopped before its completion. Because I saw no traces of plaster on the walls, or tiling on the floors. Nor any other kind of decoration. So most probably the gurdwara was still under construction when 47 struck it. At present, the gurdwara is totally abandoned and being used by the local people as a pen for their goats and buffaloes and storeroom for fodder. It was indeed painful to see this state of negligence and apathy on part of the related authorities like Evacuee Trust Property Board or the archaeology department.  

Now, something about Bhai Lalu ji or Lalo ji, after whom this important and historical gurdwara was named. On a website Sikhiwiki; the following introduction to Bhai Lalu ji is given:

Bhai Lalo earned his living by honest work. He was born in 1452 at the village of Saidpur (Pakistan). His father's name was Bhai Jagat Ram of the 'Ghataura' surname pertaining to the carpenter clan, now known as Ramgarhia. Bhai Lalo was nearly seventeen years older than Guru Nanak. When Lalo saw two holy men coming towards him, he put aside his work and spread a bed for them and went to get some lunch for them.
As the kitchen was supposed to be the most pure and clean place in a house, Bhai Lalo asked Guru Nanak to come there and have his meal. Guru ji said “Bhai Lalo, every place is clean and pure for us. Please bring the meal here.” So the meal was brought out and Mardana then divided it into three parts and they all ate it together. “This meal tastes like nectar. What has been put in it?” asked Bhai Mardana. 

Guru Nanak replied “That was the sweet flavour of truthfulness and honesty that you tasted. This taste is above the tepid experience of worldly delicacies.” Guru Nanak taught the message of honest hard work as an essential part of ones duty to God. The other two important messages taught by the Guru were the remembering and reciting of God's nameand also the sharing of ones worldly wealth with others who are less well off.
One day Malik Bhago, a high government official of the city, gave a general feast. He invited Guru Nanak too. Guru ji declined the invitation saying, "We are fakirs, what have we to do with your feast?" On being asked a second time, Guru Nanak took Bhai Lalo with him and went to Malik Bhago’s house. With great anger Malik Bhago said to Guru ji, “You are dishonoring Kshatriyas by eating dry chapaties in the house of a low caste carpenter. My feast will offer you delicious food. Why do you refuse to eat it?” 
Guru Nanak took Bhai Lalo’s dry chapati in his right hand and Malik Bhago’s fried sweet pancake in his left hand. When he squeezed the right hand the people present there saw drops of milk dripping from it. And when he pressed the left hand with the Malik Bhago's fried pancakes, everyone saw blood trickling from it.
“Look Malik Bhago, wealth gathered by cruelty and corruption towards the poor is like sucking their blood which you have done. You had invited me to partake of blood, leaving food pure as milk. How could I accept it?” said Guru ji. Malik Bhago was silent then. Bhai Lalo on the other hand was the symbol of honesty and hard work. So according to Guru ji it’s better to earn little money with honesty than to amass a huge wealth by devious and crooked means.
The news spread that a Guru, who could challenge caste and authority, with such courage unknown before, travelled the countryside. More and more people came to listen to the enlightening words of Guru Nanak. Bhai Lalo was blessed by Guru Nanak Dev ji to spread the message of the Divine Name. He became a devout Sikh and preached the Guru's gospel to the people of Saidpur.
One thing is not clear, did Bhai Lalu ji's has a connection with this place? Why a gurdwara in his memory was built 13 kilometers away from his native place, Eminabad. Perhaps he had devotees in Tatlay Aali who built a gurudwara in his sacred memory. Concerned authorities should give this gurdwara protection and pay some attention to its repair and maintenance, otherwise, it will not survive for long.

Tariq Amir
December 03, 2018.
Doha - Qatar