Patiala Heritage walk was on my wishlist for a long time – since I saw it on a Punjab Tourism brochure. I have memories of Patiala from my childhood when I used to visit this city. I knew it is famous for its bazaars where everyone went shopping. And I knew it for the Soot ka Laddus. So, this time on a trip to Delhi, I decided to explore the place in detail.
Patiala Heritage Walk – Discovering The Royal City
Come with me for a Patiala Heritage Walk, to begin with.
The Heritage Walk ironically begins from a mausoleum. Shahi Samadhan is the resting place of the royal family of Patiala. The main building houses the memorial of Baba Ala Singh – the founder of Patiala. Behind it are the cenotaphs of other members of the royal family.
A falling plaque in marble reads – Samadhi of His Highness the deceased Maharaja Alla Singh Sahib Bahadur who died in Samvat 1822.
The main building carries a very medieval Indian architecture. It has a main room, in the center of which lies the memorial to Baba Ala Singh. A conical pile of clothes commemorates him. There is a portrait of him on the wall and another small photograph resting on the pile of clothes.
An arched corridor runs around the room. Small canopies stand at the corner of the platform that has this structure.
Behind the main building are cenotaphs of the later members of the family. The cenotaphs of Karan Singh & Narinder Singh carry plaques, all others are anonymous. Rajmata who recently died was also cremated here.
The best part of Shahi Samadhan is an open pavilion with white marble on top. I wonder what was the purpose of this pavilion. Being right on top of the Mausoleum, no one would really sit there. Was it just an architectural element or there was a purpose to it in the war-ridden Punjab of those times?
Who Was Baba Ala Singh?
Baba Ala Singh was born to Ram Singh in 1691. He started fighting small battles giving protection to people of the Phulkian area that would include the districts of Patiala, Nabha, and Jind today. He established Kachha Patiala in 1745. A fort was built around the place where he used to sit. This is a huge fort, now at the heart of the city of Patiala called Qila Mubarak. Baba Ala Singh’s Gaddi became famous and a dynasty was founded.
Do you know Patiala comes from Patti of Ala i.e the land of Ala Singh?
A famous anecdote of Baba Ala Singh says that he was ordered by Ahmed Shah to cut his hair. He said you can cut my head but not my hair – the sign of being a Sikh. Finally, on payment of Rs 125,000, Ahmed Shah took back the order for cutting Baba Ala Singh’s hair. Some ways to extract money!
After spending some time at Shahi Samadhan, we stepped out a little more equipped with the history of Patiala.
Old Houses of Patiala – Patiala Heritage Walk
Here onwards we met several old houses. Some with elaborate latticed parapets.
Pammi Poorian Wala
Pammi Poorian Wala is the second stop on Patiala Heritage Walk. This a 30 to 40-year-old shop selling piping hot Pooris and Chhole Bhature with pumpkin or Kaddu ki Sabzi. We had our breakfast before the walk but could not resist tasting the Pooris. They were nice but I was more tempted by the Soot Ka Laddu.
It is fun to see the food being cooked right next to you and Pooris landing on your plate right out of the pan.
Pro Tip – Do not eat breakfast before you embark on the heritage walk. Instead, have it on the way – the Patiala Way.
Haveliwala Mohalla – Patiala Heritage Walk
As we entered the narrow lanes with tall Havelis on both sides, I was reminded of Bikaneri Havelis. The Havelis here are not that grand but the doors are as rich. Almost every Haveli door is carved in wood with intricate designs on them. The door jambs too were made in broad frames and lovely to look at. Invariably, there was a Ganesh carved on top of the door.
Some windows and window frames were nice but you have to really stretch your neck to look at them. Blue Grey Color for doors seems to be the favorite in the town.
Wires hang in the narrow lanes. Two-wheelers and pedestrians compete for space as they try to move in these gullies.
There are small temples – a part of the Mohalla. I visited the Shiv temple, which is as small as it can be but still has a Shivalinga that you can see from the road itself without taking off your shoes. There is a small parikrama path or circumambulation path that goes around Shivalinga. Other temples were closed when I visited.
Haveliwala Mohalla is home to the prestigious people of and from the town. Many families working for the Maharajas lived here. Many politicians hailing from Patiala have their ancestral homes here. I could see a lot of houses belonging to Jain families.
This is an arch-shaped open structure named after the erstwhile Diwan of Patiala, who used to hear public grievances here.
At the moment it looks as if it is just a passageway. But, you never know how many stories are hidden behind it.
As you come out of Chhata Nanumal, you would see the shining steel and Brass utensils all around you. This is the Bartan Bazaar or Utensils market. In a corner a dyer was dyeing the Pagris, in another, a Kalaiwala or the polisher was polishing the brass utensils. Here and there the colorful phulkari dupattas hung in front of the shops.
It was still early morning, so there were not many people around. The shopkeepers were more than happy to let you click pictures, or talk to you and answer your questions.
I think the place still has that quintessential Punjabi hospitality in its culture that welcomes everyone. Even at shops where I told them, I am not going to buy anything, they would welcome me and ask me if I would have a cup of tea. Where else would you find such hospitality?
It is a lovely gate-like structure that is not really a gate but a place for the common public to see the royal processions. It is located very close to the Qila Mubarak.
Qila Mubarak is the heart of the city and the last stop of the Patiala Heritage Walk. You enter the fort through its large gates with large spikes all over which were meant to combat the enemy attacks. You land in a courtyard surrounded by giant buildings on all sides. This is when you realize the huge size of this fort. It took me some time to let it settle down.
History of Qila Mubarak – Patiala Heritage Walk
Qila Mubarak was built in 1764, making it the oldest living structure in the city. Spread across 10 acres, the architecture blends Rajasthani and Mughal Architecture. The pastel colors of delicate floral paintings remind you of Amer Fort near Jaipur. There are miniature paintings by Kangra artists.
Qila Mubarak is divided into two main parts. Qila Androon or the inner quarters have royal living quarters. Outer areas have a huge Durbar hall, kitchen, cold chamber, and a royal guest house.
We entered another arched gateway and on our left, we met the Gaddi of Baba Ala Singh. This is where he used to sit and is a place of reverence now. The seat is maintained as if he is alive in spirit with his picture sitting there.
As we walked inside the walls on either side had a hint of the paintings that would have existed. It was saddening to see that these lovely paintings have been ruthlessly whitewashed. Through a maze of narrow paths and steps, we reached a small room where a Jot or an Oil lamp is always burning. Apparently, this has been burning since the inception of this fort. Next to it are logs of wood-burning – called Dhooni. It belongs to spiritual masters.
On the top floor are the queen’s quarters. One of the kings had a French queen and there are French quarters of hers with distinct European arches. You can see the palaces below with char bagh style gardens.
Painted Chamber of Qila Mubarak
The high point of Qila Mubarak is the painted chamber – which is painted in predominantly red and golden colors. It reminded me of the Amar Mahal in Junagadh Palace of Bikaner. The paintings tell tales of Krishna and royal scenes. I never expected Patiala to have such a rich repository of miniature wall murals. It is a delight to stand there surrounded by colorful stories. I hope Punjab Tourism documents and preserves them well.
One of the wooden doors is studded with ivory and carved intricately.
Durbar Hall in the outer part of the fort is another marvel. It is a huge hall with a ceiling of at least 70 feet high. The wooden doors in black are intricately carved. The huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling would make you wonder about the strength of the ceiling which is any way without any support. An old Victoria coach was wrapped in a plastic cover due to ongoing renovation work.
Pro Tip – At the moment Qila Mubarak is under renovation and you are allowed to go only to certain areas.
- You need to walk about 1.5 km for this.
- A large part of the walk is narrow lanes which you can see only by walking.
- Patiala Heritage Walks happen every Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Timings vary during summers and winters but it still happens in the mornings.
- There is a nominal fee for the Heritage Walk.
- You can do the walk yourself with a map that you can download from here. There are boards throughout the route, making it easy to walk.
- However, we recommend doing it with the Punjab Tourism guide as they tell you stories like no guidebook can and also answer any questions that you may have.
Roof top of Shahi samadhan looks so peaceful. Pammi poorian wala samosas looks so inviting. Qila Mubarak, I want to visit. Thanks Anu for introducing so many beautiful places of India to me and the world
Simi – Patiala is a lovely little city that still has old world charm and the famous Punjabi hospitality. Do go there when you get a chance.
I had read about Patiala from my history books as a military stronghold that defended against onslaughts in the 1700s and 1800s by Afghan warlords and the Marathas. Looks like the city has preserved not only the history and heritage of that time and the importance of Patiala, but also the beauty and genuine hospitality that the people were known for. Love this post and love your photo gallery inserts too … really allows a person to visit each location easily — what plugin do you use for those?
Michael – Patiala has a warrior history but it is also best known for its markets, that I would soon write about. Galleries is a default feature of the theme I am using.
A very detailed and good article.Informative blog for the people who love to travel in India.. Thankss for coverage of Royal Patiala.
Hardeep Ji – Thank you for showing us Patiala in such a lovely way.
I love the story of the blackmail of Baba Ala Singh to cut his hair…Beautiful photos too of a part of India I really don’t know at all. I will make a point of trying to visit.
Fiona – every city has stories that make them fascinating. Sometimes I feel stories are telling us to hold their hand and take them forward to the next generation with us.
In fact we can not say it just blackmailing. The main intention of Jat Sardar was to save the citizen from looting of the then outsider attackers. Shri Ala Singh became ready to give money to save the prosperity of state not own hairs.
I love all of the ornamental doors at Patiala. They are so stunning and intricate. Hand carved hardwood with ivory inlays is sublime. Your picture of the canopy with the back lighting was really well done too.
Jenn – I was also stunned to see these lovely doors. Though I come from there, it is now that I appreciate this heritage. Thank you & glad that you enjoyed the images.
Ok I had no idea that a city like Patiala also does heritage walks for tourists!That is pretty awesome, apart from the fact that Patiala has so much history and heritage associated with it. I am from Punjab and remember visiting Patiala when I was really little (have been living in Delhi and other bigger cities mostly during my life) but I wasn’t aware of Shahi Samadhan for example. Maybe I need to go back, explore a bit of my own roots 😉
Ditto Medha. I have visited Patiala as a kid ample number of times but I was not aware of Shahi Samadhan. Yes, you need to go back and explore Patiala again 🙂
Patiala in fact has a richer history and heritage then to the general knowledge of public. Back in times, it had its borders beyond Rohtak.
Yes, Manjeet – Patiala is an underrated destination. It was once a glorious Kingdom of Punjab.
I have never come across this place before but it looks stunning. I love those doorways and the colours. It is one of the things I find fascinating in India
Glad Anne, that you liked the doors of Patiala.
The Patiala Heritage walk looks like a great way to see the beautiful medieval Indian architecture. The Indian history is amazing to see, the more I read about this country the more I would like to visit.
Lucy – go book your tickets to India.
Good details from the walk. Nice trivia about the name Patiala.
Bartan bazaar concept is so interesting, must be a sight to see all vessels glowing bright.
I’m really starting to get the idea that there are a nearly unlimited number of attractions that I need to see in India, and so much history there. Somehow I never thought of the country as being rich in so much history. This place looks like a lot of fun to explore. I’ll be sure to eat on the Patiala Way and not soil it with a prior breakfast.
The Rooftop of the Shahi Samadhan at Patiala looks beautiful. I like the history Baba Ala Singh and I it was pretty powerful when Ahmed Shah order Baba to cut his hair and he replied “You can cut my head but not my hair” awesome!! The architecture of these buildings are simply stunning!!! Definitely going on my to go to list.
Christopher – like you say, architecture is beautiful, but it is the stories that make the place so interesting. Punjab is known for its valor and this story is one of the many in the series.
The architecture is gorgeous! I love how intricate and detailed it is. I think a walk like this would be very interesting to do and I like that you can do it yourself or with a guide. Although I’d prefer a guide because I think you can learn more that way.
Vicky – Patiala Heritage Walk is done every weekend with a guide & can also be arranged on request by Punjab Tourism.
Taking a Patiala Heritage Walk sounds quite fascinating – so much stunning architecture along the way. Really interesting to have been able to see the old houses – and incredible that they’ve been preserved to this day. Stopping off for some food at Pammi Poorian Wala sounds so yum! I like the idea of having breakfast on your way. I would love to download the map that you mention for being able to do a self tour – is there a link available for this? I couldn’t seem to locate it 🙂 Thanks!!
Megan – I will try and get hold of the map and upload it.
Loved reading it and all the pictures are so nice.now I am really tempted to visit patiala soon
Glad you enjoyed reading it Madhu.
A very detailed and good article, Keep it up.
Sounds like an amazing activity! I really enjoyed reading about Patiala and the heritage walk. I can really understand why you wanted to explore it in detail! So many lovely sites to see! I love the details of the buildings including the gorgeous doors with its fine details. Can you do it within the day, btw?
The Soot Ka Laddu looks pretty yummy for breakfast. 🙂 What is it made of?
Marvi – Yes, one day is good enough for Patiala and this walk can be done in 90 mins or so. Soot ka Laddu is good for anytime :-). It is made of wheat flour and local jaggery that we call Shakkar.
The architecture at Baba Ala Singh Samadhi in Patiala looks SO beautiful. What a fascinating culture, I would’ve never guessed it was a fort!!!
Baba Ala Singh Samadhi is a memorial, the fort comes later in the walk 🙂
I love doing a cultural or historical walk when I travel, and the Patiala Heritage Walk looks like it was an asbolutely brilliant one that you could relive your childhood memories through! I love studying architecture from around the world and this is an archtectural dream! All those gorgeous details.
Samantha – If you love architecture, you would love this walk for sure.
There is just so much to see and do in India. Reading your posts makes me want to go back there so bad and spend the rest of my life exploring every nook and cranny! The heritage walk looks like something I would love to do. The architecture is simply amazing!
Anita – that is a big aim and goal of my blog – to show you India that most miss out. Hope to see you in India soon.
These doors seem absolutely gorgeous and ideal for my Instagram feed! Hopefully, I will visit India soon and participate in this heritage walk. All these great buildings hide so much history, like the anecdote with the hair you mention, so interesting!
True, there are too many layers in Indian history – you will never get tired of exploring them.
This sounds like a great tour! 1.5 km is nothing at all, so this would make a great little day tour. I love all of the architecture and the beautiful intricate details.
Paige – it is a very easily do-able tour. The starting and the end point take your time as you soak in the architecture.
That is an amazing heritage walk. Did not realize that Patiala had so many havelis and other heritage sites as well. I know that I would have a blast here. Especially with the Haveliwala Chowk. You are right about it reminding one of Bikaner.
Ami, I have been to Patiala so many times as a kid, and I did not remember any of these. It was as good as discovering them for the first time.
I did the Heritage Walk in Amritsar with a Punjab Tourism guide quite similar to the Patiala one. Our young guide was really good. Will keep this in mind if I have a chance to visit Patiala.
Radha – I want to do the Amritsar walk as well. Have visited Amritsar a lot as a kid, but it has been ages since I went there.
The “rooftop of Shahi Samadhan” at Patiala is very beautiful and attractive. I like the samosa of “Pammi Poorian wala”. I will like to travel to Patiala and explore more things which I never saw earlier.
Thanks for this great article.
We at Patiala Foundation under our iHERITAGE project have been exploring the royal city of Patiala.We undertake the Patiala Heritage walk -1 also known as Royal Walk from shahi samadhan to qila Mubarak,Heritage Walk 2 at Bahadurgarh Fort and Heritage Walk 3 at Ghuram.Our Motive is to make the residents and younger generation sensitive about our generation.The article on Patiala Heritage Walk is beautifully written and explained,We shall be highly obliged to host you for your upcoming visits to the city and exploring it further.
Sure Ravee Ji. Whenever I am in Patiala next, will get in touch with you.
How to book a Guide there .
I grew up in patiala and left that city 45 yrs ago i imagine it must have changed a lot
when i was there they never allwed us to visit shahi samadha and qila was also out of bounds but went to museum many times i always fascinated by the the fort and its architecture and read so many books about pepsu and city Next time i visit i will make sure i visit the city again and visit all those places
HOW TO BOOK A GUIDE
We ; a family of 3 will be in Patiala in March. Would like to do this Heritage Walk on 22 March.
Appreciate if you could kindly provide me details.
You need to contact Punjab Tourism