|Judge's Court, Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh. Courtthebetterindia.com|
Across India there are ever so many pretty old private residences (more than 100 plus years) built both in local style as well as various European styles. With the rapid urbanization in various parts in the past couple of decades and craze for modern dwelling, such time-honored old structures are either demolished to replace it with multi-story buildings or left in a poor state because the owners do not want to keep such white elephants; regular maintenance is a menace cost-wise. To cater to the increasing tourism and mushrooming 3 to 4 star hotels at many important tourist destinations, many rich families pool the money and convert them into attractive hotels, retaining the old charm and heritage features. The surprising fact is countless foreign tourists prefer to stay in these hotels with heritage elements. with hidden modern facilities.
Located at an altitude of 2000 feet in the midst of 12 acre lush green land in the district of Kangra is a 101 year old heritage building called Judge's Court, a private residence of an erstwhile lawyer and High Court justice Sir Jai Lal (believed to be second Indian judge appointed by the British India government).during the colonial period.
|Pragpur, country side, Himachal Pradesh. outlookindia.com|
|Heritage village, Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh. thebetterindia.com|
The small town Pragpur is in the Kangra Valley of the state of Himachal Pradesh set in a quiet place with a beautiful backdrop of the Dhauladhar mountains with meandering rolling meadows. Established in the 17th century by the Kuthiala Sub-Clan of the prosperous Sud community, this small village, named after princess Prag Dei of the Jaswan royal family, carries the unique tag of' ''First Indian heritage village (recognized by the State of Himachal Pradesh in 1997) famous for cobblestone lanes, village tank, natural underground water springs and mustard fields. Sporting two story old buildings with tiled roof, the village is equally popular for skilled silversmiths and weavers. Visitors to this place go for handmade trinkets, hand-woven blankets , wool clothing, etc. The local handcrafted products are popular on the local market. The local village people never give up their traditional profession and skilled work, thus maintaining the continuity and the harmony among the members.
|Pagpur Judge's court. heritagehotelsofindia.com|
The Judge's Court (completed in 1918) is a beautiful European-styled building (one of India's fine heritage Haveli) with fine court yard and interior decorations - elegant light fittings, carpets and duvets, etc. The present owners stay here for just 6 months in a year In this residence the wooden cupboard, doors and etc., are antique and were handcrafted in the 1930s. The outer area overlooks the a big lawn that is well maintained.
|Judge's court, Pragpur, HP. audleytravel.com|
The builder of this residence is Rai Bahadur Jai Lal, the present owner's grand father and he had this house built for his eldest daughter as a wedding gift from his family.(1918). Jai lal was working in the court and was a trained lawyer. As he put in excellent services, in 1922 he was promoted to the covetous justice post in the high court at Lahore (now in Pakistan) when India was under the British Raj. In those days, (even nowadays), during the summer season, the court would be closed for 2 t 3 weeks so that the justices and lawyers could be free from the tedium of stressful court court work and rabble-rousing arguments over legal interpretations. Justice Jai Lal would visit this place on short holidays during the winter and go to near by Shimla on long summer holidays .
|Paragpur, Kangra dist, HP. allindiatourpackages.in/|
Sri Jai Lal's three well- educated sons after their father's demise in 1954, had an idea to sell this palatial house. However, they began spending more time here than in their home in Delhi and finally made up their mind to convert it in to a heritage hotel. Before starting the hotel business they took care of all repair and restoration work. Way back between 1914 and 1918, the main building and spacious reception hall came up. In the 1940s spacious kitchen and staff quarters were added. The house had a fine dinning area, also space for buffet and pantry, Initially there 14 big rooms with balcony. In the later years more rooms were built and in the recent past big chambers were added, each named after the well known colonial administrators like Curzon, Dalhousie, Mountbatten and ever Robert Clive. This was done to maintain the colonial flavor and charm.
As for the Judge's court, it is our country's first village manor with many rooms The hotel is accredited with 4-star rating and it offers personalized services and high quality Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisine. A visitor to this place, I understand, will get the feeling of being in the colonial era. Such old structures remain as vestiges of local legacy and heritage. The owners of such old colonial type building must do something to preserve such structures and put them to use - hotels, restaurants or banks. This way they can get enough money to maintain the old building and at the same time they can safeguard them for the posterity.