Forgotten Farukhnagar

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June 26th 2014
Published: June 26th 2014
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Driving past the suave shopping malls and glass & chrome high-rises of glitzy Gurgaon, we hit the dusty Basai Road, where the road widening appears a perennial activity and the last of land-grabbers (read realtors) promise to offer fancy life styles in their fancier gated townships named after some esoteric English counties. A few kilometres down the road the scene changed for better…the dirt & grime gave way to greenery of wheat fields with patches of bright yellow hues of marigold cultivation. Driving along we reached Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, a huge water body, where many species of migratory birds home in during the winter. We headed to Rosy Pelican, a Haryana Tourism outfit for a breakfast with stuffed paranthas and sandwiches. After the quick fill and a short drive of about 5 kms. we reached Farukhnagar.

Now a nondescript town of Haryana hinterland, Farukhnagar, named after Mughal Emperor, Farukhsiyar (1713-1719) was founded in 1732 AD by his Governor Faujdar Khan, who declared himself as the first Nawab of Farukhnagar. The town assumed commercial importance due to trading in salt made from the brine available in its many wells. Nawab Ahmed Ali Khan of Farukhnagar rebelled against the British in India’s first war of independence in 1857 along with the nearby principalities of Jhajjar, Rewari and Ballabhgarh. Later they were all tried of treason and executed by the British and their estates were seized by the colonial ruler. As the British relocated the salt trade to Rajasthan, Farukhnagar lost all its glory. Ruins of its forts, palaces and havelis today remain mute spectators of the town’s rich legacy.

Winding along a narrow road through the milieu of everyday commerce in the urbanized village oblivious of its past we crossed Dilli Darwaza, the main gateway to Farukhnagar Fort, which once housed about 4000 people. The gate replete with heavily fortified large wooden doors was restored in 2009, thanks to the conservation efforts by INTACH. We stopped by at Jama Masjid, built by Nawab Faujdar Khan in red sand stones with a whole lot of Arabic inscriptions from Quran. With the change in local influence, the mosque metamorphosed into the Ram-Seeta Mandir complete with the idols and also a Gurudwara as proclaimed at the main entrance.

Close to Jama Masjid, we could locate Sheesh Mahal, the palace built in 1711 AD by Nawab Faujdar Khan for the royal residence. Unfortunately we could only catch a glimpse from the locked out iron gate as the caretaker was merrily absconding with the key with the spell of ongoing holidays. We came across many old havelies with facades of ornate cast iron grills and carved sand stones.

Coming to the other end of Farukhnagar we reached Jhajjari Darwaza, the gateway leading to its neighbouring district town, Jhajjar. As we clambered up the top of the darwaza, we caught the glimpse of Sethani ki Chhatri, a two-storyed cenotaph totally in ruins with inscriptions & frescoed ceiling inside. But atop Jhajjari Darwaza the view of baoli Ghaus Ali Shah simply took our breath away! The baoli, a large octagonal stepped well, was recently restored by Archaeological Survey of India. We went down an intriguing underground tunnel across Jhajjar Road to reach the precincts of the baoli. It was an architectural wonder with many arched galleries all around, hidden passages and stairwells for reaching the upper tier with a large well at the centre of its octagonal structure.

I tried to capture the pieces of yesteryears' history in my camera for posterity and headed back home heavy with the memories of a forgotten chapter!

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