Shiv Chander Sharma
Very few among the present generations may be knowing that once Jammu city, the capital city of Jammu Raj and later Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh State, was fully surrounded and protected by a wall with only five Entry/Exit gates. This was probably done to protect the city from invaders who tried to invade the city since 14th Century AD up to last during the reign of founder of the state Maharaja Gulab Singh during first half of the 20th century after the death of Maharaja Ranjit of Punjab.
The old part of Jammu city is still known as walled city but many of the people hardly know that who gave this look to the city, why and when. The walled look of the city continued till 1947 and even afterwards after getting the look in the middle of the 18th century AD. Now hardly the people can trace any remains of the wall that once covered most of the Jammu city during royal period.
Of these, only three gates namely Gummat Gate, part of Maheshi Gate and Jogi Gate can still be seen though wall covering the city has almost disappeared barring a small part on Exchange Road with the passage of time. The other two gates were Dennis gate, built to welcome Prince of Wales in early 20th century (1905 AD) and the other on Telephone Exchange Road adjoining the Main multi storied BSNL office in the city.
However, some pedestrians who cross the Gummat Gate adjoining Town hall building, once the main entry point to the walled Jammu city, among total five gates, know about this gate which is still called Gummat. Only small part of another adjoining gate, Maheshi Gate is still existing at Kanji House, now Vivekanand Chowk, while the wall has completely disappeared now.
When the capital of Jammu Raj was once again shifted back to Jammu city from Babore in Udhampur district by Raja Maldev of Dev Dynasty in 14th century AD he built his palace at Purani Mandi. But the main credit of converting Jammu into walled city goes to his descendant Raja Ranjit Dev (1733 AD to 1782 AD). He is also believed to have started the construction of Dogra Royal palace during his reign which was completed by Maharaja Gulab Singh with additions made by his son Ranbir Singh and grandson Maharaja Pratap Singh who added more parts to the palace as per their requirements.
Earlier, Jammu city was very small but keeping in view the Muslim and Sikh invaders Raja Ranjit Dev felt the strong need of keeping the city safe from them and planned to convert the city into walled city. Main entry gate to the city was Gummat gate followed by some others gates to enter the walled city Maheshi gate, of which only a small part can be seen at Vivekanand Chowk adjoining a nullah. Part of another gate towards main cremation ground in the city, Jogi Gate can still be seen when one goes down Shahidi Chowk by the side of DPS School. The other gate was near Gurdwara Sunder Singh named Dennis Gate and the last one at Exchange road adjoining the bill counter of the main exchange building.
When Ranjit Dev became the ruler of the state be was imprisoned for 12 years at Lahore by Nawab Zakariya Khan according to book Rajdarshni by Ganesh Das Baderhra. However, ultimately he was released and he took the reigns of Jammu Raj under his control. He felt the strong need of giving protection to the capital city and first of all the Gummat Gate was erected.
On the one side of Gummat the huge wall was constructed along Hari Singh High School which further went to now DPS School side, Jogi Gate, Gujjar Nagar near the present residence of the Chief Minister to Mubarak Mandi Royal palace along the side of river Tawi. From the other side of Gumat gate the wall passed through present Kaleeth Mohalla, SMGS hospital to Kachi Chawni and Ambphalla towards the Panjtirthi. The city during the royal period remained confined in between the wall which has now expanded manifold with the growing population.
However, various parts of the mammoth wall were completed by the successors of Raja Ranjit Dev during their times and due to this wall the Jammu remained protected from Sikh invaders who were given tough fight outside the Gummat Gate who were finally pushed back failing in entering Jammu city. But with the passage of time the wall has almost disappeared to become a history and some remnants still remind the people that the city was once walled with five Gates.
However, after Jammu city got the status of Smart city, the Jammu Municipal Corporation has started renovation of two prominent gates, the Jogi Gate and Maheshi Gate and the work is still in progress.
Shiv Chander Sharma