Reminiscences of a visit to Bhaun 1/2

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The Hindu temple architecture is an open, symmetry driven structure, with many variations, on a square grid of padas, depicting perfect geometric shapes such as circles and squares. 
According to ancient Hindu texts, a temple is a place for Tirtha or the  pilgrimage. It is a sacred site whose ambience and design attempts to symbolically condense the ideal tenets of Hindu way of life. 
All the cosmic elements that create and celebrate life in Hindu pantheon, are present in a Hindu temple – from fire to water, from images of nature to deities, from the feminine to the masculine, from kama to artha, from the fleeting sounds and incense smells to Purusha – the eternal nothingness yet universality – is part of a Hindu temple architecture. And this essence of the Hindu spirit was visible in every mandir that we visited in Bhaun.

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THIS VILLAGE PRIDE – HERE GODS RESIDE

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By Nayyar Hashmey

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First the origin of the name Bhaun:
There are many stories (mostly apocryphal) about the origin of the name Bhaun. Some say it is derived from the name of a Raja who founded and ruled this village. Others say its named after some Hindu goddess. Some even attribute it to the times of Alexander the Great in whose times some Greek General made a stopover at this place.   His name after a lapse of so many centuries has finally took the shape of Bhaun.
 Yet the most agreed upon version is that the name actually is a distorted form of Bhawan which in Hindi means Abode or a Palace. According to the Hindu mythology, this village was an abode of gods and hence the name Bhawan. But since for us Muslims who mainly inhabit this area ever since Islam came to this part of the world, the Hindi name was difficult to pronounce, therefore, it became Bhaun.

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Last November, we four friends, me myself, Razzaq, Shakil and Dilawar made trip to a small town near Chakwal in the Pothohar plateau of our Punjab. Though we went there to condole the death of a friend’s brother, one of us that’s Ch Razzaq who is diabetic (BTW I too, am in the same category) felt that our sugar levels seem to be dropping. So to have some sips of tea, we took up a nearby lane. And vow, there in the narrow lane, we discover an amazing little town bursting with its old charm, its historic buildings, its temples and its monuments.

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While we stood at this particular point, we spotted the cone shaped top of this mandir that motivated us to go near the mandirs and the old houses of Bhaun.

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This is the street we passed through discovering the beauty of Bhaun’s old houses.

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The cone shaped towers of mandirs are a hallmark of Bhaun.

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An old Mandir that tells the story of neglect by our authorities as well as by our public.

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A boy walks past an old carved door. You can also see the wooden arch above the main door carrying similar carving.

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A scene of the town’s bustling market, where you can get every thing. Special attraction of the market is Landa Bazar which the poor and the middle class frequent  to purchase warm clothing for coming winter season.

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At the market place, there are many such stalls selling fresh vegetables to dwellers of the town.

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Another view of the town’s market place.

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An old house in decay. Yet you can see the beauty of the brick filled door and the ventilators carrying embellishments that speak of Bhaun’s past grandeur.

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Bhaunians seemed to be fond of keeping cocks because after every third or fourth house we passed along had the cocks and the hens roaming in the verandas or the courtyard of the house. 

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A proud rooster stands with his madame. Note the guarding posture.

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In streets of Bhaun, we came across many such baskets or tokras as they are locally called. The tokras are used to keep the poultry fowls enclosed in the bounds of this small yet open bottomed cage.

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While we were passing through the old street, we passed along this Chai-Wala, who  has a superstore. Here you can get all things (anything you have in mind and he has it). From groceries to all things for stitching, and things that are already stitched. You can even get wood charcoal to heat your hearths and stoves.

When we told him, we have come all the way from Islamabad to his shop; he prepared a special brew (Doodh Patti) for us. And believe me, his brew had a taste far far better than any of the so called posh restaurants in Islamabad.

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The Tea Stall

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This shoe mender interrupted his work to greet us when we passed along his shop. A kind and gentle face, he greeted us with an affectionate Aslamo Alaicum. His motto, “Mehnat main azmat hai”.

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When old gets new things, new materials, new fixtures. Here a house, probably built in the pre-partition days, has been fixed up with a steel gate. Though more robust than wooden doors, yet such modern structures cannot beat the beauty and the style, the aesthetics and the compatibility of the civil structure to the intricately carved doors and windows, a hallmark of wooden exteriors of the houses in Bhaun.

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Another house in decay, yet the intricate patterns speak volumes for the aesthetic sense of the builders in erstwhile Bhaun, who constructed these houses and richly decorated them with beautiful patterns.

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The signboard says, Kashish Tailors. Kashish means Attraction in Urdu. Can’t say how much attraction do his tailored dresses get, but what attracted us was the old street that mostly had the houses with artistic embellishments of the pre-partition days of Bhaun.

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When old world meets modern gadgetry. Like everywhere in Pakistan, technology has made its mark even in these old fashioned, artistically decorated houses of Bhaun. Here a young Bhaunian talks on his cell phone reminding us that Bhaunians are no less smart in using modern gadgets than their country’s counterparts.

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Yes there is also a wall of kindness / wall of fraternity in Bhaun.

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A general view of the town of Bhaun..

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The main gate of the Haveli of Risaldar Bhagat Singh Oberoi. A nice piece of woodwork similar to the art and craft of the wood carving industry that now typifies the city of Chiniot.

Next: Reminiscences of a visit to Bhaun (2 /2)

Photo Credits: All images in this article (except  the two, the sources of which are relevantly linked) were captured on spot by my friend Dr. Shakil Ahmad while we were in Bhaun.
Related Articles:
1. Traveling through Pakistan – The Katas Raj Temple 2. KATAS – A Paradise Lost and a Paradise Regained! 3. Hinglaj, the Hindu holy shrine in Hingol, Balochistan

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for telling in beautiful words about my village Bhaun.I was borne in this great village in the year 1942 as eldest son of Mr Vikramjit Sabherwal and grand son of Lala Gandamal .We migrated to India in 1947 but I still have some childhood memories of Bhaun.We lived in a big house perhaps the largest in Bhaun!Is there anybody who remembers my grand father Lala Ganda Mal and knows about our house.What happend to the house in which I was borne?I just once on my life want to visit Bhaun.I will be thankful for information. My best regards to Mere Watan ke lokon ko.
    Deepak or Gul Sabherwal.

    1. I have not received any reply to my message of 10.12.2017.Please make an extra effort to find somebody who knew my family in Bhaun.We are Sabherwals and my grand father,Dadu,was very active member of the Bhaun Society.As already mentioned his name was Lala Ganfs Mal
      Thanks and best regards
      Gulu or Deepak Sabherwal.

    2. Sabherwal saab, my family and ancestors are from Bhaun too. My Dada, Dharam Dev Vohra belonged to Bhaun and my Nana to Chakwal. They passed away within a year of each other and were a year apart in age. We now live in Gurgaon and are reachable at sahil@sahilvohra.com

      1. Dear Sahil Vohra Sahib,

        Glad to know that your ancestors belong to Bhaun. Last year (before I had this heart infarction, i.e. about 3months before, I visited Bhaun and was almost spellbound by its beauty.

        As I mentioned to Sabharwal sahib, am going to visit once again. And Bhaun is still such an attractive place that even after 70 years its beauty still has been able to retain (though most of its magnificient temples and other buildings have either been occupied by the immigrants from India or other parts, or convetred to schools and other uses.

        Anyway thanks for your visit to this site and I look forward to have some more inputs from you about your beautiful hometown.

  2. Dear Deepak Sabharwal sahib,

    Sorry that I couldn’t respond to u earlier. Actually I was very active with my blogging activity here on this site, but ever since I got a heart attack (It was exactly a year before that I had a stent surgery) I have much reduced this. That’s the reason being late.

    I myself hail from Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) but am living now in Rawalpindi. I visited Bahun when I had to go there at a condolence meeting. But now I intend to go there once again to capture some more scenes, some more aspects of Bhaun (sometime this month).
    Otherwise I have a friend who lives in Rawalpindi too but an old resident of Bhaun. I will check with him if he can be helpful in this regard.

    But I would request you to please give me some more detail of your old house in Bhaun i.e. street, house number, mohalla etc. I will then check with it my Bhaunian friend whether he can be helpful in this matter.

    Am glad to know that Bhaun is your janam bhoomi, a town which I found as very fascinating especially its Hindu style of houses and temples.

    Once I have visited again, will update you and other readers of my blog soon with relevant pictures.

  3. Thanks Nayyar Hashimey Sahib,kindly talk with your friend who lives in Rawalpindi but hails from Bhaun.Perhaps he can help me to find out more about our house and can perhaps introduce me to somebody who knew my family
    I will try to come to Pakistan and meet you at least.
    With kind regards.
    Deepak Sabherwal

    1. Deepak Bhai, am glad that u r intending to come to Pakistan and will visit your janam bhoomi too. You are most welcome to your land of birth. Plz do update me when you hv finalised your programme.
      Yeah I did try to contact my friend Zafar Cheema, but he wasn’t available when I phoned. Will try again and will let you know if anything of you interest is available via him or some of his acquaintances

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