Dogra History Being Revived

Dogra History Being Revived

1 September 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Sumit Hakhoo

Jammu: Jia Pota, on the banks of river Chenab in Akhnoor where the coronation ceremony of the founder of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, took place about 192 years ago is becoming a centre of attraction for the urban youth of Jammu, who want to know more about the erstwhile Dogra rulers. Although, several palaces associated with the dynasty like the Hari Singh palace, have been converted into hotels or commercial centres by Dr Karan Singh, the Dogra heir who has maintained little link with his ancestral land, young generation here is trying to dig into the history to revive the glory of the past rulers. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest among the youngsters to study the history of Dogra rulers, who gave present shape to the Jammu and Kashmir by extending its boundaries up to Russia in the north and Tibet in the east. The state also remained the largest princely state in British India up to 1947, when India attained independence. “Democratic rulers may have forgotten the erstwhile rulers, but every year on June 17, the day when Gulab Singh was coroneted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1822 AD, students and professionals celebrate the day,” chairman of Raj Tilak Committee K P Singh said. He said that it was about a decade ago when the committee, which arranges several events at the site, started to organise an annual function on June 17 to commemorate the day. On weekends, several families visit Jia Pota, about 25 km from here, and efforts are being made to build a library-cum-museum at the site, Singh added. “Official history of J&K projects erstwhile rulers as autocrats. But in Jammu, several market places have been named after them and statues of Maharaja Hari Singh, General Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh and Ranbir Singh grace various parts of the city along with other national heroes. It conveys a message about separate political aspirations of Jammu youth,” said historian Prof. Hari Om. In Jammu, the Dogra rulers are seen with pride. “We need to be proud of our forefathers, who founded the present Jammu and Kashmir state. Their days should also be declared as state days, like being done with other political personalities of J&K,” said Pratap Singh, a member of the National Panthers Students Union (NPSU). “We need to remember our ancestors, who fought with bravery and made the Dogras proud,” he said. Meanwhile, demands are being made to rename Kunjwani chowk on the Jammu-Pathankot national highway after Gulab Singh. Some sections of the society are asking for installation of former ruler’s statue at the chowk, which is the entry point to the city. A statue of Gulab Singh is also being erected in Samba, which has a large Rajput population to which the erstwhile ruler belonged. remembering the past Jia Pota is located on the banks of the Chenab in Akhnoor where the ‘Raj Tilak’ (coronation) ceremony of Gulab Singh was performed Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the powerful Sikh ruler of the 18th century, anointed Gulab Singh as the King of Jammu for his bravery and effective court management