Sunday, 4 March 2012

CENTURY OLD MEMORIAL CHHATRIS IN ASTHAL BOHAR MUTT DEMOLISHED

Believe it or not but the fact is that several monuments and cenotaphs erected from 1780 to 1910 AD in the memory of renowned Nath Sadhus of yore and majestically standing since then on the sprawling old mound in the campus of Asthal Bohar monastery have been demolished to make way for a fabulous new building on the line of Akshardham of Delhi. ‘It has totally altered the majestic skyline of the monastery and is shocking for the conservators of art and cultural heritage of the State’ said Ranbir Phaugat , a cultural historian and also President of Society for People’s Advancement, Technology & Heritage and also life member of Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage. He added that Mahant Chand Nath had also previously got the ‘Chitrashala Bhawan’ demolished sometime in the mid-nineteen eighties that was also built to represent through frescoes the cultural life of the people of erstwhile Punjab and episodes from the life of renowned Nath Sadhus. Amongst the demolished memorials is a brick canopy over the Dhoona of Siddh Baba Chaurangi Nath, popularly known as Pooran Mull – the eldest son of Raja Saliwahan of Sialkot and elder brother of Raja Risalu about whom several legends were traditionally sung by the Jogis and Sangees of Punjab. The legend as sung by the Jogis was documented by Capt. R.C.Temple in the early nineteen hundred eighties of the Era. The brick canopy was built with large sized tiles in the twelfth century and engulfed inside the magnificent memorial building raised later over the Smadh of Siddh Baba Mast Nath. The other memorials that were recently demolished belonged to Siddh Baba Total Nath- successor to Baba Mast Nath, joint cenotaphs of Baba Megh Nath-Mohar Nath-Chet Nath and Pooran Nath. Due to the demolition of the buildings that provided cover, the grave built in lakhauri bricks at the time of actual burials of the Babas have been exposed. At the time of the recently held fair at the campus in reverence to Baba Mast Nath, the public felt shocked and anguished to find the chhatris demolished.

‘The current Mahant has done irretrievable loss to the built heritage of at Asthal Bohar Mutt campus in which act the frescoes in the rooftop chhatri of Baba Tota Nath, as last vestiges of the art heritage, were lost forever’, lamented Mr. Singh. He added that the memorials were demolished with silent support from certain influential politicians including a scion from the erstwhile ruling family of Alwar in addition to a well known religious and social personality as could be evidenced from the inscription stone installed at site at the time of Bhoomi Poojan. Not a single voice in protest was either raised or reported in the media against this silently completed operation.

The entire population of over 1.5 lakhs of the group of eight villages comprising Bohar, Baliana, Pahrawar, Kheri Sadh, Bhalaut, Garhi, Majra and Pakasma that have traditionally provided material support to the Mutt should have decried the act of demolition and wastage of huge sums of money needed to built a huge decorative building at the same site replacing old monuments, observed other people such as Prof. Manmohan Kumar, renowned historian in the Department of History and Archaeology, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak to whom Mr Singh had spoken. Dr. Kumar also expressed helplessness and said that the the Mahant never asked historians and conservationists about their opinion. The State department of archaeology seems to have forgotten its act of preserving the Chhatris, which were more than a hundred years old and covered under the Preservations of Ancient Sites and Monuments Act-1956 of Govt. of India. ‘Even the British could not have thought of demolishing the fine monuments had we been under their rule’ said Mr Singh and observed ‘that the trend indicates neglect of heritage properties in Haryana due to which a large number of monuments or buildings of heritage significance have been ruined’.

Incidentally, it may be mentioned that Mr. Singh pioneered the documentation of tangible heritage of Haryana State and first time in 2008 scientifically listed the heritage value properties of district Rohtak.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed a great loss of National Heritage. I am surprised, the people of the area remained meek spectators without raising a voice against this atrocity.

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