Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Loharu Fort, an heritage site in Haryana that needs immediate attention; associated with great Urdu poets

Loharu Fort, Haryana, India. indianetzone.com
India is dotted with tens of thousands of historical religious and colonial monuments and they are being managed either by the state or central governments. Thousands of monuments are in a dilapidated state due lack of funds, wanton negligence and lethargic attitude of the officials.  A country without historical monument is just like a skeleton. Without them past history can never be retrieved.  Do we really care for the heritage structures? The answer is no, as no sincere efforts are made to restore the dying monuments The old Loharu Fort, an architectural heritage site  in Haryana, is in a bad state, slowly decaying. 
Loharu Fort.theweek.in
Once part of an  independent princely state Loharu in Bhiwani distt, Haryana, a  small nondescript town has a historical fort built around 1570.  Built by Thakur Arjun Singh, it was a mud fort, stretching over 6 sq. kilometre.  After a few battles over the control of this fort, it passed hands from Thakurs of the Shekhawati clan to Nawabs in the 19th and 20th century.and it was  in 1800 a major transformation took place.  The mud fort was  converted into a strong and  formidable, self-contained stone fort  by the Nawabs. They built the mansions and structures for administrative purposes. Included were the rich library and its Victorian  audiance chamber with arches and high ceiling Rooms of mirror, etc..
Loharu Fort, Haryana, India. 
It also included  a jail, masjid, zenana with kitchen (women's quarters) and a lake - a source of water.


The first  battle in 1671 A.D between Thakur Madan Singh and the Mughal Governor of Hisar, was fought over the issue of land revenue and the second one was between Thakur Kirat Singh and Raja Bhopal Singh of Khetri  over the control of the fort. Outside the Loharu Fort Raja Bhopal Singh was killed  and a Chatri in his honor  came up in the place where he was cremated; Loharu is just 1 km from the fort.  In 1893, the fort was part of  the state of Ferozpur Jhirka, ruled by Nawab Ahmed Baksh Khan. Until  1971 the other Nawabs of Loharu  had controlled it.  Later it was transferred to the  Government of Haryana by the last heir late Nawab Aminuddin Ahmed Khan.

Loharu For ttheweek.in
This fort is steeped in history and Poets like Mirza Ghalib and Dagh Dehlvi  adorned the court and produced prolific  heart-rending  Urdu poetry.  Umrao Begum, the daughter of the Nawab of Loharu  Ilahi Bakhsh Khan Maroof,  married Ghalib when he was just 13 years old.  
The fort  has buildings /structures built in a blend of  Rajput, Mughal and Victorian architectural style. Close to heritage hotel Surajgarh Haveli, 10 km from  BITS, Pilani and 40 km from Mandawa film city, Loharu has a hidden potential to become an exciting tourist spot. But, Loharu Fort  is not yet figured as a "key tourist destination" and this is very unfortunate. 

Ever since, the fort came under the Govt. administration, periodic maintenance has become a far cry and some parts of the fort are crumpling. No guards are posted near the gates and the fort and the  surrounding places look like a ghost town. This sleepy place is a semi-arid town where the main occupation is  agriculture. Until few years ago the state animal husbandry department had it office here and there was some semblance of life then. After they had moved out no body came here.

This fort was once home to a fine library  and Rampur Raza Library  now has  some 3,000 books donated from the library of Loharu. The Ghalib Institute  has artifacts and memorabilia from the poet who was a respected person in the past. Prominent people from various fields have stressed the need to restore the fort to its former glory, so that it will hold a prime place in the  heritage tourism map. Tourism positively would help this economically backward town, particularly the youths will get the benefits. 

The fort was in a good shape when the state department set up offices in 1971. Once tehsil offices  shifted elsewhere  it slowly fell into decay because of negligence, poor upkeep an lack of security guard, Further, the mansions inside the palace were not occupied and as a result, they were crumbling.   Many structures  in the  north-wing had collapsed  so were some parts of  the east-wing. Only the south-wing of the fort (containing the Farukh Manzil)  has survived and it is also slowly rotting. The east wing has Delhi-style haveli which is quite interesting.

OneAditya Sangwan did an 18 minute documentary film on ''Loharu Fort'' and is getting rave reviews. This film will be screened in Iraq and in Canada (Fake Flesh Festival) as part of film festivals. He has already won the lake city Film festival award, Madhya Pradesh. He made the documentary along with a team of 25 people. 
Like so many  smaller forts have been converted into heritage hotels, something must be done to preserve this historical fort for the posterity.  
https://www.theweek.in/leisure/society/2019/07/22/A-23-year-old-bid-to-put-Haryana-loharu-Fort-on-the-heritage-tourism-map.html

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jul/29/neglected-loharu-fort-hopes-for-restoration-courtesy-film-2010872.html