Rajinder Chand Anthal
On Jammu-Udhampur road,just ahead of Nandani tunnels we see one old Haveli and a beautiful Pond on the right downside of the road.
This heritage monument has seen the glorious past of Dogra Kings and has also witnessed neglect at the hands of successive Governments. This structure of great historical importance remained unheard and unknown to general public and tourists for more than a century. There was a time when the Rulers were worried about the welfare of their people. With this thought in mind, this beautiful Haveli and pond was constructed in this draught hit area where single drop of water was hardly available in those days.
The passengers used to travel through this route mostly on foot or on carts etc. So this place was the first halting station during the journey towards Katra, Udhampur, and onwards. The rulers were alive to the welfare of their people.It is sad, however, that we could not preserve these ancient heritage sites and they got ruined with the passage of time.
This huge complex of great historical importance should have been declared a protected monument much earlier because it deserves so.Even at this stage the pond is in a fine state. The writing on the marble plate on end point of the pond reads as, “This tank Ramsar in the village Janakha is constructed by Shri Rani Pathani of the late Sir Raja Ram Singh Sahib Bahadur K BC of Ramnagar for the use of all living beings as darmarth in April 1912 A. D’’
In this connection it is pertinent to mention that Raja Ram Singh was the younger brother of Maharaja Partap Singh of J&K State. Raja Ram Singh was the last ruler of Ramnagar. Rani Pathani was the queen of Raja Ram Singh. This tank was named as Ramsar and dedicated to the memory of the late King. Raja Ram Singh had only one daughter and she was married to Raja Kedar Chand of Chenani. Another thing to note is the writing on the plate, “That this pond is open for use by all living beings.” This was indeed a great social equality thought in the mind of great Dogra queen.
Previously, this pond was clearly visible from the roadside and each passer-by was curious to know about this majestic pond and Haveli but due to indifferent attitude of our present day road developers and engineers the widening the road has been dragged so close to the pond that it is almost touching the pond. Although sufficient land was available on the other side of the road.
Even at this stage, the pond is in a good state. The fine chiselled long stones are so fixed that such a unique architectural structure is perhaps not available anywhere in J&K state. The intake of water is magical and the outlets, all of stone, are so made that the slightest increase in water gets drained automatically. The stairs are wide and open with footpaths having extensions leading to the middle,which ends in lotus shaped structures. The pond has remained safe in spite of manyearthquakes and other natural calamities. No leakage of water has developed in the pond with the passage of time and neglect.
At present the pond is filled with mud and filth, yet its beauty has not faded. Just adjoining to the pond,there is the old Haveli. It was used as Sarai for the public. Almost whole of this multi-story building has been constructed with large and small chiselled stones. It has large open courtyard on the backside. This Haveli and pond are the connecting links of past heritage with the present. This grand structure has much to tell to the future generations. Due to the sad state of neglect, this multi-storey building has grown grass and trees everywhere and no repair and renovation of this great building has been done. If renovated, both the pond and Haveli can become a fine tourist spot.Thousands of daily visitors of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji along with the tourists. They can enjoy the beauty of this place and take a look at the Dogra history and culture. Also, the scenic beauty of this place is matchless.
This entire monument needs urgent repair, renovation and publicity.The Department of Tourism should undertake planned development of this place. The Govt. of India has sanctioned many tourist circuits for this State. So J and K state Govt. should include this monument in Tourism Development Plan. It is also suggested that the dislocated shopkeepers from Nandni be settled near this monument and a beautiful Park be constructed near the Haveli and pond to attract more tourists and visitors.
(The author is Zonal Education Officer (Rtd.)Chenani.)
Rajinder Chand Anthal