Who Owns Harand Fort? – Pakistan


Ruins of Harand Fort continue to mystify all those who take their chance to go there. First of all it gives an emotional look, as a symbol of our evolution and continuity. No matter what your pursuits and interests, you will fancy finding out so many things about the important monument of the past.
And, every time you leave Harand and look back to watch the fort receding in the distance, your mind is flooded with thoughts of its architects and inmates over a long period of time as it stands there lonely and mysteriously on the Suleman mountain, its importance lost in the hazy vistas of time.
·

THE STORY OF A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS AND ALEXANDER THE GREAT

·

by S  A J Sherazi

·

Perched in between legendary Suleman Range on one side and mighty River Indus on the other, ruins of original Harand Fort are situated in the area commonly known as Pachaddh. The Fort has seen a lot in the past and looks as if hiding thousands of secrets besides its historical and archaeological importance.

The Fort was originally built opposite historic Chachar Pass in Suleman Range to guard against the invaders. The fading signs of the edifice are still there in the forms of derbies and bricks scattered around the old site. Sikh Governor Sawan Mall used the material of the old fort rebuilt the Fort on a new location in 1831.

Present structure of the Fort – a valuable part of our heritage – is situated about 25 kilometres west of sleepy and rustic town Dajal in district Rajan Pur. The Fort is spread over an area of 50 acres. The outer wall of whatever is left of it is one kilometre long and was made of thin red bricks. There are 16 pillars. Main entrance is in the west and another one is in the east. What ever is left of the fort is a clear evidence of its past, solidity of masonry and quality of construction.

DESERT ROCK

The Satellite image shows the location of Harand Fort. The yellow lines are roads. Follow the yellow line going west from Dajal. The red rectangle shows the Suleman Range hills. The fort is located somewhere between these hills and the yellow road west of Dajal. For perspective, note the location of bigger city Ranjanpur as well as the airport at D. G. Khan.

Over 200 rodkohis (seasonal hill torrents) come out of this mineral rich Suleman Range, and if properly managed, could irrigate more than two hundred thousand acres of agricultural land, most of the Pachaddh area, but the scheme for flood distribution, canalization and construction of spill ways is yet to be approved. The water of these torrents causes colossal damage to life, crops and property in every monsoon season and flows unutilized. Lined up with Pillu trees, Dajil-Harand Road is broken-down and boulder like stones are spread around. It takes painfully long to cover the distance of just 25 kilometres. Ex-President Farooq Ahmed Khan Laghari who has his roots in the area, during his tenure managed electricity and telephone in the area but could not get the roads built that are necessary for the development of this historic belt.

History has it that Harand Fort was originally built by Hindu Raja Harnakish in the name of his son Hari Nand. The fort had seen three different periods: Hindu, Macedonian and Muslim.

VIEW OF THE FORT

As per the local lore, when young Alexander the Great, on his way home after conquering most of the known world, came in the area, Harand was under the rule of Hindu king who had beautiful daughter. Her name is quoted as Nowshaba.

She was talented, brave and daring princess. The princess was fond of hunting besides being strong and efficient administrator of her father’s state. Alexander heard about the princess and wanted to see the beauty queen personally. Alexander himself approached the fort in the guise of a ‘messenger of Alexander.’

Born in 356 B.C., full name Alexander III of Macedon, was the son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias of Epirus. One of those extremely rare historical figures whose actual achievements have regularly outshined numerous fictional portrayals.
He came to power after the assassination of his father by the captain of his bodyguard. He promptly put down a series of rebellions around the Balkans and marched his army into Persia.
Alexander made his way through the Persian Empire, clashing with Persia’s forces and mercenaries. Along the way, he seized Egypt away from Persia and was declared pharaoh. After Alexander’s forces defeated the enormously numerically superior Persian armies and forced King Darius III to flee the battle, Darius was assassinated by a general who fled with him and Alexander seized control of the empire.
Later, Alexander’s forces marched into Bactria and India, where Alexander was forced to stop his expansion under the threat of revolt from his army, who were beginning to wonder if he truly would march to the very end of the world, circumstances permitting.

He was taken to the court of Hindu Raja where Princess Nowshaba saw the ‘messenger of Alexander’. She ordered that the messenger be immediately taken to royal guesthouse. In the guesthouse when Alexander introduced himself as a messenger, the princess smiled and pointed towards the wall where images of all contemporary kings including Alexander were hanging.

Iranian poet Nizami has written this incidence in Sikandar Nama adding that both got married. The veracity of the marriage or this incident is yet to be proved by historical evidence though. (Another tale says that Alexander also married the wife of defeated General in his war near Saga.) The third period of this historical monument starts with the arrival of Muslims in the area in early eighth century. The palm trees found in the region are indicated as an evidence of the arrival of Arabs’Army. Subsequently, all the adventurers who came this way – from Changez Khan to Muhammad Ghori – visited the fort and used it for their convenience, contemplating their next moves.

During Sikh rule, the fort was rebuilt on the present location for strategic reasons. This fort garrisoned the Sikh army to control the Baloch tribes. Later, the famous battle between British troops and Marri-Bugti tribes was fought here in 1867. After annexation of South Asia, the British used the fort as a cantonment. The British carried out limited excavation and historic artefacts recovered from the site were sent to British Museum in London. Presently, there is a small Levy’s post in the fort.

RUINS

All said and done, off the beaten track, ruins of Harand Fort still continue to mystify those who take their chance to go there. First of all it gives an emotional look, as a symbol of our evolution and continuity. No matter what your pursuits and interests, you will fancy finding out so many things about the important monument of the past. And, every time you leave Harand and look back to watch the fort receding in the distance, your mind is flooded with thoughts of its architects and inmates over a long period of time as it stands there lonely and mysteriously on the Suleman mountain, its importance lost in the hazy vistas of time.

As I drove back on a pebbled road, plied mainly by animal transports and occasional automobiles, I could not help thinking: Can the plight of the priceless site be brought to the echelons of power? Can some national or international agency be moved to act and save the place for coming generations before disappears totally? The remains of the monument have to be preserved and saved from total ruination, a danger they are facing at present.

More from S. A. J. Shirazi on Wonders of Pakistan

1. Hiran Minar 2. Around Abbotabad 3. The Wonders of Deosai Plains

S A J Shirazi is a Lahore based writer, blogger and speaker. Shirazi has authored two books (Izhar, Ret Pe Tehreer) and translated Din Mein Charagh by Abbas Khan into Light Within.
Source   Title image  Satellite image  Alexander’s image
Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints, however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

We do not claim exclusive rights on all articles, images or videos published on this site. The sources we use to create our articles, images, videos etc. are credited with a proper linkback. However, we do host material from unknown authors we receive via mails, from friends and our readers.
If you own copyrights to some material and you want us to remove it from our pages, contact us to claim your ownership and we will either credit you, or if you wish – completely remove the content.

Pak Hindus throng renovated centuries-old temple


After attending the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Kata Raj Mandirs Complex at the pond, local Hindus visited the temples.They worshipped at Lord Shiva’s lingam.
Hindus believe that by worshipping Lord Shiva, their prayers and wishes come true. “We showered rose petals in the holy pond to pay homage as it is a sacred site for us,” said Rachna, who came from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. She said Hindus believed they became ‘pavitra’ (clean) by bathing in the water of the holy pond.

·

KATAS RAJ MANDIRS COMPLEX RESURRECTS

·

by Zeenews

· 

Scores of Hindus participated in a special ceremony held at the historic Katasraj Temple in Pakistan’s Punjab province following the restoration of its holy pond, which had begun drying up due to excessive use of groundwater by a nearby cement factory.

A total of 115 Hindus from cities across Pakistan visited the temple in Chakwal district on Saturday.

The Renovated Temples

Shri Amar Kund, the sacred pond, was showered with rose petals and pilgrims drank its water and filled bottles to take home.

The Pond

The Punjab government took steps to revive the pond after it dried up this summer.

The trip to the temple by the Hindus too was facilitated by the Punjab government.

Ashok Chand, general secretary of the Hindu Sudhar Sabha, was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying that the federal and provincial governments should protect other Hindu sites across the country.

“We are very thankful to the Punjab government as it did a great job for us,” he said.

The Colours of the Pond

After attending the ceremony at the pond, Hindus visited the temples in the Katasraj complex.They worshipped at Lord Shiva’s lingam.

“By worshipping Lord Shiva, our prayers and wishes come true,” said Namindar Rani, who had come from Mandi Bahauddin.

“We showered rose petals in the holy pond to pay homage as it is a sacred site for us,” said Rachna, who came from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.

She said Hindus believed they became ‘pavitra’ (clean) by bathing in the water of the holy pond.

Ratan Lal, vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony, said the Punjab government should allow Hindus to celebrate Diwali at the Katasraj Temple.

In May, President Asif Ali Zardari expressed concern at the damage to the centuries-old Katasraj Temple due to environmental degradation caused by industrial complexes and sought a report from authorities.

Zardari acted after a media report said industrial complexes around Katasraj Temple had destroyed its pristine beauty and threatened the natural water pond with “complete extinction”.

He directed authorities to restore the site in a scientific manner.

The Resting Signboard of the renovated Satghara Temples

Media reports had said that the sacred pond at the Katasraj Temple was drying up because of excessive use of groundwater in the region by a cement factory.

Saeed Iqbal Wahlah, Secretary of the Environment Protection Department, who is the focal person of the Katasraj Conservation Committee, said the Punjab government had acted on a war footing to revive the holy pond.

“It is the responsibility of the Punjab government to protect sacred sites of minorities as they are equal citizens of the country,” Wahlah said.

A sum of Rs 609.19 million was spent on restoring the pond and the federal government will provide another Rs 20 million for renovation works.

“The Katas Raj Conservation Committee also proposed that a hostel be built here where Hindu pilgrims could stay,” Wahlah said.

Ismat Tahira, Director General of the Punjab Archaeology Department, said her organisation was doing its best to renovate the Katasraj Temple while retaining its original state.

“The plight of the temples and the pond was so miserable some years ago but now all the temples have been renovated and the pond has been restored,” she said.

Chakwal district administration chief Ahmad Aziz Tarar assured Hindu pilgrims that the region would always welcome them.

Pandav’s Temple

“Chakwal is a peaceful district and its natives are very hospitable. You would never face any problem while visiting your revered sites,” he said.

According to Hindu mythology, the holy pond was formed when Lord Shiva wept over the death of his beloved wife.

The temples at the Katasraj site, located 40 km from Chakwal town, were built by Hindu kings around 900 years ago.

 

Some years ago, Pakistan decided to place idols of Hindu gods in seven temples at Katasraj and restore them to their original state to attract Hindu visitors as part of a multi-million rupee project.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani visited Pakistan in 2005 to lay the foundation stone for the project to restore the Katasraj complex.

This was the first time since 1947 that an Indian politician was invited to a Pakistani project to renovate a Hindu shrine. [PTI]

As always, click the individual image  to view in full size.

***

You might also like: 

1.What the ages couldn’t accomplish…  2. I too want to go on Hinglaj  Yatra [in 2 parts]  3. Pilgrimage to Mata Hinglaj (Hingol), Balochistan [in 5 parts] 4.  Hinglaj, the Hindu holy shrine in Hingol, Balochistan 5. Traveling through Pakistan – The Katas Raj Temple 6. KATAS – A Paradise Lost and a Paradise Regained! 
Source All images

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

 

A pluralistic past



Takht means “throne” and bahi, “water” or “spring” in Persian/Urdu. The monastic complex was called Takht-i-Bahi because it was built atop a hill and also adjacent to a stream. Located 80 kilometers from Peshawar and 16 kilometers Northwest of the city of Mardan, Takht-I-Bahi was unearthed in early 20th century and in 1980 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as the largest Buddhist remains in Gandhara, along with the Sahr-i-Bahlol urban remains that date back to the same period, located about a kilometer south.

·

 OUR LOST HERITAGE NEEDS TO BE DISCOVERED AGAIN

·

by Huma Yusuf

·

ONE of the most peaceful places in Pakistan is the Buddhist monastic complex of Takht-i-Bahai near Peshawar. Situated on a hill, the grand cluster of stupas, courtyards, residential cells, and meditation chambers remains enveloped in mist and mystery. (more…)

Indus Valley Civilisation: The Genesis [2 of 3]


Notable in civilization around the Indus Valley is the lack of strong resemblances to other early civilizations to the west of Mesopotamia, which indicates that Harappa was not a colony. Skeletal remains, however, show that the dominant human type of the peoples who built the civilization was a tall, long faced, dark-haired strain much like those from the Mediterranean region.
And the civilization was anchored on two cities: Harappa in the north on one of the five great rivers that forms the Indus, and Mohenjo-daro, 400 miles to the south on the banks of the Indus proper. These cities formed the town capitals of a complex of smaller urban centers and villages that covered an area four times the size of Sumer and twice the size of Egypt during the Old Kingdom.
·

THE INDUS VALLEY & THE GENESIS OF  CIVILZATION IN ASIA

·

by R. A. Guisepi·

·

Today the script still has not been deciphered and much of the original mystery remains. But decades of extensive excavation at the original site and hundreds of other sites throughout the Indus valley have uncovered a huge complex of cities and villages that made up the first civilization in South Asia. The evidence found so far indicates that Harappan civilization developed quite rapidly in the middle centuries of the 3rd millennium B.C. There are sharp divergences from the village cultures that preceded it in levels of material culture, scale, and organization. (more…)

Indus Valley Civilisation: The Genesis [1 of 3]


Like the Sumer, Egypt, and other early civilizations in the Middle East, civilizations first developed in East and South Asia in the vicinity of great river systems. In South Asia, civilization first developed in the Indus River valley in present-day Pakistan in the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., more than a thousand years earlier than it did in China. In fact, the civilization of the Indus valley, usually called Harappan after its chief city, rivals Sumer and Egypt as humanity’s oldest one. But like Sumer and its successor civilizations in the Middle East, Harappan civilization was unable to survive natural catastrophes and nomadic invasions.

·

THE INDUS VALLEY & THE GENESIS OF  CIVILZATION IN ASIA

·

by R. A. Guisepi

·

INTRODUCTION

·

Like the Sumer, Egypt, and other early civilizations in the Middle East, civilizations first developed in East and South Asia in the vicinity of great river systems. When irrigated by the massive spring floods of the Yellow River, the rich soil of the North China plain proved a superb basis for what has been the largest and most enduring civilization in human history. Civilization first developed in the Indus River valley in present-day Pakistan in the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., more than a thousand years earlier than it did in China. In fact, the civilization of the Indus valley, usually called Harappan after its chief city, rivals Sumer and Egypt as humanity’s oldest. But like Sumer and its successor civilizations in the Middle East, Harappan civilization was unable to survive natural catastrophes and nomadic invasions. (more…)