Magnificent 180-year old Panj Mandir screams for help/ Rashmi Talwar / The Tribune SPECTRUM

Magnificent 180-year-old Panj Mandir screams for help
Rashmi Talwar

Panj Mandir in Fatehgarh Churian, Gurdaspur, is a jewel of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign. It is the maternal hometown of Rani Chand Kaur, wife of Kharak Singh, son of the Maharaja

Straddling streets of New York, seeing the ancient melt so smoothly; antiquated churches virtually like “flowers” amidst sky-scrapers, I was gripped by shame. The scene reminded me of our callousness towards our rich heritage in India. Where graffiti defaces marvellous frescoes, a crude nail has gouged out an eye; a paan-spit splashed red blob is the depths of apathy towards our glorious past.

Glorious Panj Mandir

Glorious Panj Mandir

If the enthralling grandeur of Amritsar’s GoldenTemple is credited to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Panj Mandir is another marvellous jewel, ingloriously unrecognised of the Maharaja’s reign. It is some 30 km from the GoldenTemple, in Fatehgarh Churian Gurdaspur, the maternal hometown of Rani Chand Kaur, wife of Kharak Singh, son of the Maharaja.

Attributed to Rani Chand Kaur, the Panj Mandir’s structure below the dome is a unique zigzag, created by precision laying of specially made bricks, inspired by Solanki architecture and Baoli art of step-creation. Indo-Mughal, Sikh architectural confluences have amalgamated in this marvellous structure with four mandirs marking four directions and a sanctum sanctorum.

The inner and outer fort-like walls and the temple entrances are studded with jharokhas in bas relief, reminiscent of Rajasthani architecture. Remarkable, rare frescoes tell stories of yore in exquisitely carved niches, so resilient as to stand bright till today. “I am too scared to step on the brick flooring as I feel my shoes may erase some traces of rich heritage”, an American’s remark disgraced me once.

Our magnificent heritage could not only be made self-sustaining but its optimum utiliSation could accrue prosperity and income. “Tourism is created with ideas and here we sit on a virtual mountain of treasure and let it be robbed or crumble,” laments an expert.

Beautiful artwork

Heritage experts believe the temple may have been built around 1830 and is thus nearly 180 years old. Much of the lower portions of frescoes is white-washed, and the present caretaker Pt. Mohinder Kumar, who religiously cleans and secures it from encroachment, may beautify it with bathroom tiles and multicolours, out of sheer ignorance. The temple’s foundations are already being dug for new housing, emerging adjacent to it.

The wealth of resplendent frescoes comprises episodes of Krishan stealing bathing gopis clothes, Yashoda Maiyya churning butter with a madhani. Frescoes also show Guru Nanak with disciples Bhai Mardana and Bala, Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh, Saraswati-Lakshmi, Radha-Krishan, Shiv-Parvati-Ganesh, Kartikeya-on-Peacock, Ganga emerging from Shiva’s locks. Vishnu reclining, with Nag-chatri in ocean, Durga Mata aloft a lion, valiant horse-rider, episodes of Narsingh, Prahlad, Baba Balaknath, Hiranyakashyap. These splendid frescoes-artifacts are facing erosion, their ruination imminent, if timely protection evades them.

Tertiary temples are devoted to Surya, Durga, Shiva and Kartikeya. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Ram with Sita, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughan share space with Krishna-Radha.

This combination of gods goddesses on one pedestal is rare. Dr Subhash Parihar, an expert on historical structures, comments, “People were secular, many ancient gurdwaras-temples have frescoes displaying episodes of Hindu gods-goddesses.”

The frescoes resemble Chamba’s famed Rang Mahal paintings in Pahari style, ones in Sheesh Mahal near Ramnagar, Jammu, also seen in Dera Sahib Gurdwara, Lahore and temples around Katasraj in Pakistan.

The Baradari entrance with symmetrical twin Jharokas on both sides of angular walls open to the road, are in ruins. The rampart walls are embellished with exquisite Jharokas, geometrical patterns, flowers waves, carved canopies in bas relief complete with exquisite corbels. But the outer wall is wearing, as entire area is speedily coming up with housing.

Dr Balvinder Singh HoD Guru Ram Das School of Planning in GNDUniversity, comments: “The mandir resembles Konarkin Orissa and South Indian temples. The use of Nanakshahi bricks makes it unique.”

Mandirs are conjoined by a fort-wall with steps and walk-ways throughout the terrace, are peeling. One is covered with green climber and a syntax-watertank supplying water to a tiled bathroom constructed inside the ancient complex. Locals wait for a collapse, to grab the land. There were seven mandirs, two of which were outside the main complex, of which one exists in a dilapidated condition, locked and other, erased.

Panch-mukhi lingam

A rare five-headed or Panch-mukhi lingam in the temple represents five elements, five senses, five organs, five powers and the five temples of Panj Mandir. The five heads also signify the five aspects of Shiva corresponding to five holy places in Hinduism.

Ancient sarovar

About 120 yards from Panj Mandir stands a massive sarovar alongside Talab Wala mandir, believed to be built by Rani Chand Kaur to mark the birth or dastargiri of her son Kunwar Naunihal Singh. Some say, Nanakshahi bricks used for the mandir and sarovar were brought from Lahore via a human-chain. Almost 15 feet in depth, with 10 running steps throughout, the sarovar, 225 feet by 230 feet, has arched exit-entry water-points, and lies neglected.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE TRIBUNE ON AUGUST 25TH 2013 

URL:http://www.tribuneindia.com/2013/20130825/spectrum/society.htm

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22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rashmi Talwar on June 17, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Wo Lawrence road ki sham ,
    Wo Service club ka jaam
    Wo Mall road ki hawa🌌
    Wo dr sidhu ki dawa
    Wo puniye ka paan
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    Wo wardrobe ki shopping
    Wo mobile ki talking
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    Wo Ahuje ki Lassi haye
    Wo company bagh ki walk🏃🚶
    Wo bakewell ke finger
    Wo bikes pe jaana
    Wo ghar shikayton ka aana
    Wo ladai me pademukke
    Wo telephone exchange ke tikke
    Wo motichoor ke ladoo
    Wo kanhaya ki poori
    Wo durge ki fruit cream🍨
    Wo hall bazaar ki Kulfi
    Wo southland ka dosa
    Wo udho ram kasamosa
    Wo girls ka BBK college Wo unke baare me
    knowledge
    Wo maqbool road ki gedi🚘 jahan roz nai ladki chedi
    Wo mathura ki chaat
    Wo gur da halwa
    Wo university ki treat
    Wo mangal dhabe wali queens rd
    Wo archies gallery di geri
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    Wo roz raati late aana
    Wo rani ka bagh ki sadke jaha kitne DIL dharke..
    Wo neenoo bar ka chilly chicken n ginger
    Wo masti ki batein
    Wo sukh dukh ki mulakaatein..aisi hai kuchh
    humare AMRITSAR ki baatein…DEDICATED TO ALL
    THE AMRITSARIS😀

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  2. Posted by Gunbir Singh on August 29, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Well done Rashmi … Gunbir Singh

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  3. Posted by Kvps Hundal on August 27, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Great news, congrats for taking up this case to preserve the heritage structure. Hopefully ASI will restore and preserve the monument for posterity

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  4. Posted by Shantiveer Kaul on August 27, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Shantiveer Kaul Way to go, Rashmi!

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  5. Posted by Aalok Aima on August 27, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Congratulations Rashmi !!!!
    Thats a great achievement to your credit.

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  6. Posted by Roopinder Bhinder Gill on August 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    We can only talk of our heritage but can,t exibit much as gradually our heritage sites are dwindling due to the lack of maintenance. Look at Greece how well they,ve preserved the ancient city of Athens. Superficial India!

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  7. Posted by Cherry Chandi on August 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Feel ashamed!!

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  8. Posted by Harry Rakhraj on August 27, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I wrote out my Comment and put my heart into it because it’s a subject that concerns me very deeply. Alas, Word Press wouldn’t publish it: They always find some reason (password, user name etc), whatever…
    Anyway, let me just say that it’s very well written and succeeds in spreading awareness about our rich cultural and historical heritage.
    And Rashmi! Your writing has improved tremendously! It’s almost as good as a professional’s. Maybe the all-knowing Cosmos had a different plan for the little girl who missed out being a world-class athlete. You’ll be a world-class journalist, yet. My blessings are with you, always.-Harry Rakhraj

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    • Posted by Rashmi Talwar on August 27, 2013 at 5:37 PM

      Thank u Harry .. I look forward to ur comment everytime and I feel encouraged from discerning people like you and ur good wishes have gone a long way in making me improve my hand … I am glad Some Almighty power holds my hand and makes me do something fruitful in life..Thanks once again ur comment means loads to me

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  9. Posted by shantanu singh on August 27, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    i hav read ur maximum artical …. Plz contact on my mail id ..madam talwar.. I ll b wait fr ur fead bck bcoz i would have intrest in ths feild so plz .. I m waiting fr ur rply ..

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  10. Posted by Chandresh Kumari Katoch on August 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    UNION MINISTER FOR CULTURE TAKES NOTE OF MAGNIFICENT PANJ MANDIR
    Rashmi Talwar
    AMRITSAR – AUGUST 27, 2013 —-“Union Min for Culture Ms Chandresh Kumari Katoch, in a call this morning, stated that the formal procedures for notifying the Panj Mandir as a Heritage Structure by ASI has been done. Following this step, the department would invite objections and all efforts would be made to get the Panj Mandir declared as a Heritage Monument”. The Union minister pointed that she had taken this step following the publication of the article titled “Magnificent 180- year old Panj Mandir screams for help” written by Rashmi Talwar that was recently carried in the Tribune Magazine.
    The matter of Panj Mandir was taken up with the Union minister for culture for many months by the writer. Earlier too The Tribune had highlighted the issue of Panj Mandir in its columns.

    The site Panj Mandir, Fatehgarh Churian is declared to be in a sound state of preservation. Its art and architecture, reflects the regional artistic style and temperament of the eighteenth century. It is an effective amalgamation of the Mughal, as well as Sikh architecture with artistic inputs of the Pahari miniatures and is a monument that is matchless in the parts of Punjab, say experts……“Union Min for Culture Ms Chandresh Kumari Katoch

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  11. Posted by Dinesh Sibal on August 26, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Such an apt reminder of how when you care, you find so many pearls to defend. Hats off Rashmi. So, when I am next in Amritsar I go visit the place.

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  12. Posted by Subhash Parihar on August 26, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Hello Rashmi,
    Just read your beautiful article on Panj Mandir. Thanks a lot.

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  13. Posted by Prof Joginder Jogi on August 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    After reading your article on Panj Mandir, I gauge the depth or height of my ignorance. Mam you write so well

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  14. Posted by Poonam Nanda on August 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    This is a great heritage. if we all gave a of donations instead of buying a branded handbag we can help to some extent. Europeans preserve their monuments and Romans and Greeks their ancient history, why can’t we…Poonam Nanda Honk Kong

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  15. Posted by Amar Chandel on August 26, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Has come out very well ! Regards Amar Chandel – Former Editor of ‘middle’ in The Tribune

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