Shiv Chander Sharma
Thousands of female students pass out from the Government Girls Higher Secondary School (GGHSS), Mubarak Mandi just adjoining the Mubarak Mandi Royal Dogra Palace falling in Salathia Chowgan. These students come from all types of families, both rich and poor, literate and semi-literate but only a handful of students and their family members know what this building was during the Royal Dogra period till October 1947 when J&K merged with India.
This huge complex, which was once part of the Royal Dogra Palace known as Mubarak Mandi, served as Royal Mint known as Taksal Ghar where coins/currency of the Dogra rulers were prepared. A huge machinery was installed here and these coins used to remain prepared till the period of Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1857-1880 AD).
However, some historians say that this Mint was established by Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846-57 AD) but to be safe it existed in the times of Ranbir Singh. However, during the rule of Maharaja Pratap singh (1885-1925 AD) British currency was introduced in the state which remained in use till the independence of the country and merger of J&K state with India.
Later, during partition of the country and the J&K state, this Taksal Ghar building was used to temporarily settle the refugees coming from PoK who remained here for quite long before their rehabilitation at other places. Later, it was converted into Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Mubarak Mandi.
Now, the entrance from the Palace side has been closed and the gate linking it with the Palace is permanently closed. The only way to enter this building is from Salathia Chowgan. Instead of converting the palace and this Royal Mint into a museum, a large part of the Taksal Ghar building stands demolished and replaced by new concrete structures which now serve as class rooms. However, still library and some science laboratories of the school continue to function in the ancient complex
Many in the present generation may not be aware that a rupee consisted of only 64 paise and not 100 paise of present times. The coins denomination in use mostly was Paisa, Taka, Pai, Anna, Teli and Tayia, Doani, Choani, Thiani and Rupaya. Interestingly, an Anna used to be of four paise and 16 Annas formed a Rupee which was in the shape of coin and was rare for common people during those period. These coins were prepared by mixing metal with more quantity of copper in some denominations and more brass in others. Many people still possess some of these coins of Dogra Royal period, said Dr Vijay Kumar History professor. However, these coins are placed in Dogra Art Museum at Mubarak Mandi.
Later, almost similar currency was introduced by the then British Government in the J&K state during the reign of Pratap Singh. It was in 1955 or so that the currency was changed when a rupee consisted of 100 paise, said Susheela Devi, an elderly lady in the city.
Shiv Chander Sharma