Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Doraha Sarai: RDB Point

Old and crumbled buildings fascinate me to the extent of a passion. Visiting such places transports me into another world of realm and reality. This sarai on the Ludhiana-Khanna roads always use to attract my attention. Standing amidst the fields behind Gurudwara Manji Sahib on the south of Ludhiana-Khanna road it has today become favourite hangout place for the youngsters.

I am talking about the Mughal Sarai, built by Sher Shah Suri in 17th century A.D at Doraha. Once it was the most sought-after place for fatigued travellers during Mughal rule and today youngsters go there to be themselves, to spend some quality time with their friends.
The Mughal Sarai, the symbol of our ancient glory, stands in the heart of the village. The Aamir Khan starrer “Rang De Basanti” has once again brought this historical sarai into limelight. All those who have watched the movie recognise the dilapidated building in which a group of friends meet and they make plans to get themselves heard. The sarai has become a favourite stopover for passers-by, especially youngsters who want to have a closer look at the structure.

On one sunny day I planned to visit this sarai and explore the un-explored side of this chronological inn. It is a beautiful sarai of approximately 168 square meter. There are imposing gateways in the centre on the northern and southern sides. These are pointed on the inner sides. The northern gate has remains of floral designs while the southern gate has floral and formal paintings. Both the gateways are connected by a kutcha pathway. The northern and southern sides of the sarai have 20 rooms each and the eastern and western sides have 30 rooms each with a suite of three rooms in the centre.

On the north-east corner of the sarai, there are some rooms which might have been a hammam. Many rooms have ceilings specially designed for light and ventilation. The walls and the ceilings of these rooms were richly painted with designs executed in bright colours, the traces of which still exist.

Each corner of the sarai comprises a central room. All the rooms as well as galleries are provided with slanting ventilators. On the western half of the sarai, now in ruins, is a mosque with a dome. There is also a single storey structure adjoining the northern wall of the mosque, now in ruins, probably meant for the mullah's residence.

The big compound is now being maintained as a lawn by the Department of Archaeology. The sarai is protected under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Movements Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964. The fashion of decorating buildings with coloured designs and glazed tiles was prevalent particularly during the reigns of Jahangir and Shahjehan. The Doraha sarai also seems to have been constructed during the period.

As I was quietly exploring the sarai, the loud music jarred my ears as I turned back it was a group of youngsters in their open gypsy who had come to the sarai. I decided to talk to them and know what made them to be here. Interacting with them I came to know that they all were MBA final year students who had come from Ludhiana to spend some time here. The group told me that they had been visiting this sarai since they first saw the movie “Rang De Basanti”. Earlier they use to pass their free time by sitting in some restaurant of by watching a movie but now this sarai is their favourite place.

Amanpreet, adds, “the solace and peace they get after coming here is un-match able. After college everybody will become busy in their own lives but the time spend here will always remain close to our hearts”. We are so busy in our lives that we hardly get any time to be ourselves so we decided to visit this place once every month and just relax and be ourselves. We bring some eatables along with us and the music playing in the background just calms our minds, he quips.

Adding in his friends Ramandeep said, “We enjoy spending time here. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, this place gives us comfort. But it is sad to see this place in neglect and it has lost its original glory due to the non-preservative attitude of the authorities concerned. If maintained in the true spirit it can become a major tourist spot and attract even foreigners in great number,” he adds.

According to a villager, “The efforts on the part of the authorities concerned and the general public are almost negligent. Busy in their own pursuits, no one has time to give a thought to our eroding history. Even the villagers care-a-fig for what becomes of the building and its crumbling monuments.”

Another villager Sadhu Singh who was working in fields inside the building, said earlier the place was used for shooting of Punjabi video songs, but ever since Aamir Khan shot his film here, the place had become a favourite spot for film and ad makers. The release of the film has further enhanced the popularity of the sarai.

As I was seeing this group enjoying, laughing and cracking jokes I was happy that atlest there are some who visit such places. Although the credit goes to the film that had shown the sarai but I am not complaining against it. I am happy that the youngsters have started recognizing their past glory.

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