Today is never possible without yesterday. Memories of the bygone era always linger. Be it megacities or small but historical places like Sangrur in Punjab.
Brief History of Sangrur
The erstwhile state of Jind, now a district in Haryana had its capital here. Now it is a district in Punjab.
The history of Jind dates back to ancient times. It is named after Goddess Jayanti or Jainti Devi, the Goddess of Victory. It was originally called Jaintapuri. During the Mahabharata era, Pandavas built a temple here in honor of Jainti Devi. They offered prayers for success in their battle against Kauravas. Jind’s geography has witnessed many changing times. From the pre-Mahabharata period to the 19th century. Until a state named Jhind/Jeend and later corrupted to Jind was created. And its capital was set up here.
Jind was the second largest state of the Phulkian States named after their common ancestor Phul. The other two are Patiala and Nabha, named. The Phulkian rulers were the descendants of Bhatti Rajputs who migrated from Jaisalmer during a great famine.
Maharaja Gajpat Singh of Phulkian Misl, one of the Sikh confederacies, founded the state of Jind in 1763 CE. That is after he defeated Afghan Governor Zain Khan of Sirhind and received this tract of land as his share. This included the present-day districts of Jind, Safidon, parts of Kurukshetra, Panipat, and Karnal. Malguzar of Delhi Sultanate led by Emperor Shah Alam in 1772 CE conferred the title of Raja on Gajpat Singh.
Then the territories of Jind state extended from River Satluj in the north to Gohana in Rohtak in the south. Raja Gajpat Singh (1772-1786 CE) ruled the state, followed by Raja Bhag Singh (1786-1819 CE) and Raja Fateh Singh (1819-1822 CE). Raja Fateh Singh’s son Raja Sangat Singh (1822-1834 CE) shifted the capital from Jind to the newly established place in 1830 CE.
Etymology of Sangrur
As per local records, a village named Sangrur was founded by Sanghu, a Jat about 400 years ago. It was part of the Nabha state until 1774 CE. Due to a rift between Maharaja Gajpat Singh of Jind state and Maharaja Hamir Singh of Nabha state, forces of Jind state took possession over Amloh, Bhadson, and Sangrur. Maharaja Hamir Singh was imprisoned. He was later let free on the intervention of Maharaja of Patiala. Villages Bhadson and Amloh were returned, while this town was retained by Jind State.
The Capital of Jind State
Sangrur remained the seat of the Government of Jind State from 1830 CE onwards. The coronation ceremonies, however, continued to be performed in Jind, the ancestral holy place.
Raja Sarup Singh was succeeded by his son Raja Raghbir Singh (1864-1887 CE). His son Balbir Singh died during his lifetime. His grandson Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1887-1948 AD) ascended the throne, followed by Maharaja Rajbir Singh after whom the Jind State was merged into PEPSU (Patiala and Eastern Punjab States Union). PEPSU was further merged in the joint Punjab of the Indian Union. It was later further bifurcated into Jind and Sangrur. While the first became part of Haryana and the latter became part of Punjab.
Maharaja Raghbir Singh developed the town into a progressive and distinctive state capital. He was so zealous and spirited that he traveled far and wide for ideas to create an ideal capital. In 1870 CE he visited Jaipur incognito to study the planning of the beautiful city. Finally, in 1875 CE he planned and started building his own capital. Engaged the best architects of the then period like Sardar Ram Singh. He had designed Khalsa College Amritsar and many other buildings including a block of Buckingham palace London.
As an ideal state capital, its people served in the Indian Army as the 13th Punjab Regiment (former 1st Jind Infantry). The town was home to illustrious valiant fighters and commanders like Kahan Singh, Rattan Singh, Gurnam Singh, Natha Singh, and General Gulam Bheigh Khan.
Here the people were trained to be gainfully employed – the same person wielded a sword, gun, and pen.
Heritage places to visit in Sangrur
This town is a historical hub with lots of heritage to offer to tourists, researchers, historians, photographers, and bloggers.
There were four entrance gates built around the township. Namely Patiala Gate, Nabha Gate, Sunami Gate, and Dhuri Gate, named after nearby townships on the respective routes. Unfortunately, none of these gates exist today.
Shahi Samadhan complex
Built outside Nabha Gate, it is a complex having samadhis of all rulers of the Jind state. From Maharaja Gajpat Singh to Maharaja Ranbir Singh followed by all Maharanis of the state. What makes these samadhis unique is that their tops look like the Shikhara of a temple. The slanting roof of these structures gives an impression of coastal architecture.
Banasar Bagh Baradari and Darbar
Banasar Bagh from Maharaja’s time has been a retreat garden with decorated flowers with a Baradari surrounded by a water stream.
They were developed as recreational spots for the royal family. Within the gardens of the premises is the royal Baradari. It was inspired by a similar one in Dinangar built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The one in Dinanagar was gifted to Riyasat Jind by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Remember, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s mother was the daughter of Maharaja Jind who got married to Shukarchariya Misl.
Heritage Clock Tower was built in 1870.
Magazine Building was meant for the storage of Magazines and ammunition of the Jhind State.
Gurudwara Nihang Singh Wala
An old mosque was built for prayer during the first world war. After 1947, it was converted into a Gurudwara Nihang Singh Wala.
A Railway Station was built in 1905.
Jind Cooperative Bank
Jind Cooperative Bank building was built in 1922. The old foundation stone of the 1922 inauguration time still exists. When Jind was merged with PEPSU (Patiala and Eastern Punjab States Union) on accession to India in 1947 the building was given to the State Bank of Patiala. It now houses the State Bank of India branch after the merger of associate State Banks. Located in the heart of the city at Bara Chowk, the branch will celebrate its centenary in 2022.
Veterinary Hospital was built in 1910 for the treatment of horses and elephants of the royal family. This complex served as a refugee camp for families who migrated from Pakistan during the 1947 partition. There is an Emperor George V Coronation wing at the Civil Hospital of the town.
Government Raj High School is a heritage building. It was once an Orphan House of the Jeend State.
Ruins of the fort can be seen near the Banasar Bagh complex. As per local residents, the fort was built somewhere around 1775-1786 during the reign of Maharaja Gajpat Singh.
Badrukhan Fortress & Bagrian Haveli
One of the prime reasons for Jind state’s rising power during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign was because of Bibi Kaur (Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s mother) the daughter of Maharaja Gajpat Singh of Jind. Stories suggest Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s birthplace is Badrukhan, a village nearby. There’s a fortress of the Jind royal family at that place.
The story goes that when Bibi Kaur was born, Bhai Guddar Singh from Bagrian Haveli was invited to bless. But the plan was to bury the newborn daughter. Bhai Guddar Singh pursued the king not to do so. As the girl was destined to give birth to the greatest warrior of Punjab. She indeed gave birth to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Bagrian Haveli is an old Gurudwara. Here Guru Hargobind Ji once blessed the Langar Sewa. To date, Langar here is cooked on wet green wood.
Raj Rajeshwari Temple
Opposite the fort is Mata Kali Devi Temple. Here the Idol of Mata Kali Devi is built of the same Black stone as in Kali Bari, Kolkata.
Gurudwara Nankiana Sahib
This is the Gurudwara Nankiana Sahib, where the sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Ji stayed. An old Kareer tree is still present and is worshipped where Guru Ji tied his horse and rested under the tree.
Vadda Ghallughara reminds us of the Great Holocaust of Sikhs at Kup Rohira village. It is a memorial situated near Male Kotla Tehsil of the town.
Sangrur Heritage Preservation Society
The society was formed on 28th January 2014 to preserve and restore the city to its years of glory and beauty. It is a non-profit organization. Working in the field of heritage preservation, awareness campaigns, promoting art, music, poetry, heritage instruments, young authors, handicrafts, and now tourism promotion.
It conducts Heritage and Literary Festival to bring a new promise of uplifting the world of words, melody, and arts across the green state.
How to reach
Well connected to Chandigarh, Delhi, Bathinda, and Ludhiana by road. The town is on Chandigarh Bathinda National Highway and Delhi Jalandhar Highway.
Well connected to Delhi and Ludhiana by Railways.
A guest post by Navaldeep Thareja.
Navaldeep Thareja is a textile engineer from the town. As a part of his work, he travels to little-known places across Indian states. Loves to photograph crafts of India and architectural gems of the country. Especially of the erstwhile princely states. He had a photo exhibition at the town’s Heritage Fest in December 2019. Check out his Instagram Handle Behrupiaa.
This article is written under the guidance of Mr. Karanvir Singh Sibia. A key founder of the Sangrur Heritage Preservation Society. And works to bring the town on the heritage map of India. He may be reached at [email protected]
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