Pacca Danga has a past

Pic : Rakesh/Excelsior

Shiv Chander Sharma
Well known as the main books market in Jammu city, Pacca Danga is among the oldest bazars of Jammu closely related to the royal period due its proximity with Mubarak Mandi Royal Palace.
It is also renowned for its famous goddess Mahalakshmi and Chandi Mata of Machail Mata temples in the same complex in the city which attract large number of people from all walks of life daily and specially on Diwali festival and Tuesdays every week. Especially, the students’ community can be seen thronging the book shops daily, who come here to buy their academic books which range from books for lower classes right up to Medical and engineering books.
Very close to the royal Dogra Palace or Mubarak Mandi, the old royal seat of Dogra kings, Pacca Danga starts from Moti Bazar on one side and famous Dewan Mandir junction on the other side and ends at Chowk Chabutra, both of which are also equally famous. Being close to the royal seat of Dogra kings It has many old localities on both its sides which are Gali Khilonia, Chowgan Fattu, Kali Janni. Peepal Wali Gali and Kanachakian Di Haveli (which, however, stands almost dismantled and sold to a community which has raised a community hall now).
Parshottam Lal, a tea stall owner running his shop in the centre of this market when approached, said that his father late Girdhari Lal started his shop in mid nineteen fifties when he was a child and used to assist him during his childhood period after returning from the school. Later, after the death of his father late Girdhari Lal he continued the business and is well known in the market. On the naming of this bazaar as Pacca Danga he said there was a Pucca Danga meaning a raised Pucca platform where people of the surrounding localities would sit together in the morning and evening hours under an old banyan tree for gossiping, playing chess or cards to pass their time. The old Banyan tree, however, is still intact
Later, a temple of goddess Mahalakshmi was constructed on that raised platform which is intact till date. However, exactly below it, is Machail (Chandi) mata temple. Just near the Mahalakshmi temple and at the start of Fattu Chowgan lane there used be a shop of kites , known as Jagdish Guddi wala which was frequented by locals as well as people from Sialkot (now in Pakistan) before the partition of the country who used to come by the train running between Jammu and Sialkot here for buying kites and string during Raksha Bandhan and Shri Krishan Janamashtmi festival which is the main festival for flying kites in this part of the country. Still the shop exists now and is very famous for kites and strings which are thronged now by the locals as Sialkot went to Pakistan in October 1947.
There is another lane which starts from the centre of Pacca Danga road and ends in Dhounthly Bazar is very famous as Gali Khilonian. Once this lane was most famous for locally made pottery toys and there was a large family of potters, the members of which were very famous as professionals making clay toys even after independence of the country. Later, this lane was famous for edible sweet based toys said Sushil Jain of Jain Cloth House in the Gali Khilonian lane. He further said that special toys were made of clay during Diwali days.
However, now a days this lane has become a famous market of ladies garments and females daily throng this lane for buying ready-made as well as other clothes although a signboard put up by the Jammu Municipal Corporation at the very start of this market still mentions this lane as Gali Khilonian said Poonam Upadhyay, who used to live here till few years ago before shifting to Talab Tillo after her marriage. She said that she was born in a house in this lane and later also was married with a resident of Gali Khilonian. Narrating her childhood period she said that the sweet based edible toys were very delicious and famous in the city, which, however, are not made in this famous lane now because this market has become ladies garments market.
Rajiv Gupta, a publisher and owner of Yak Book Channel and Vinod Book Depot in Pacca Danga said that brother of Hindi movies Actor of yester years late Om Prakash also used to live in this Bazar and ran a shabeel and sold Paan, cigarettes at the end of Pacca Danga in Chowk Chabutra. However many years ago he died. Om Prakash also belonged to Jammu, who later went to Lahore (Now in Pakistan) to finally settle in Mumbai to become actor in the Bollywood.