KAPURTHALA; The Paris of Punjab
Kapurthala, the capital of the former Princely State of the same name, was in its day, known as a city of Palaces, Mosques, Temples, Gurudwara and gardens. The extent of the French influence in the architecture of the main Palace, and some of the other buildings, its wide streets, the Indo-Saracenic influence in the other prominent buildings and the well co-ordinated aesthetic layout of most dwellings, being set amidst a front of an acre of lawn and gardens, earned this small Principality the sobriquet of the “Paris of the Punjab”.
Founded in the 11th century by Rana Kapur of Jaisalmer, from whom the town derives its name, Kapurthala is today the capital of a district of the same name.
Since its inception, Kapurthala has been a land of warriors and kings. The warrior king with whom it is most intimately connected is Baba Jassa Singh(1718-1783). The founder of Kapurthala’s Ahluwalia dynasty was a colossal figure whose strength, piety and courage have acquired a legendry status in the annals of history. The Afghan marauder, Ahmed Shah Abdali, was making repeated incursions into Punjab, each more rapacious than the last. Punjab, was meanwhile divided into Misls, fragmented kingdoms; and it was Baba Jassa Singh who made the various Misldars turn in time of crisis. Hew inspired in them the kind of valour that create heroes; and instilled in them a spirit that remained unbroken regardless of victory or defeat.
Thus after the sack of Sirhind in 1764, Baba Jassa went out immediately with the traditional Chaddar- a symbolic sheet in which to collect contributions Baba Jassa Singh gave himself Rs 9 lakhs towards rebuilding the sacred Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.
In generations to come, Baba Jassa’s son, Sardar Fateh Singh, would fight and lead alongside the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his great grand son, Randhir Singh would earn laurels in the uprising of 1857.
Thereafter Kapurthala saw more peaceable times, Randhir Singh’s grandson, Jagatjit Singh (1872-1949) inherited the throne at the age of in 1877 and assumed ruling powers in 1890. he holds the distinction of having occupied the throne as a ruling prince and then as a sovereign for 71 years. It is the Kapurthala he designed that the visitors to the town will see today.
Kaputhala acquired modern sewage and water systems; a telephone system in 1901; an improved judiciary in 1904; a state assembly and state council in 1916; free and compulsory primary education in 1918; agricultural cooperative credit societies in 1920 and much more.
PLACES TO VISIT
Sainik military school
Formerly the Jagatjit Palace; This imposing edifice was built in 1906 by a French architect, Monsieur M Marcel. Inspired by the Palaces of Versailles and Fontainebleau in France, its statuary and painted ceilings represents the finest features of French art and architecture. Expert Indian and European workmen carried out the interior decoration of this Palace. The great Durbar Hall, is one of the finest of its kind, done entirely in the Indian style, appropriate for the ceremonial occasions that were once held under its roof.
The court complex
The present District Courts are located in the once magnificent complex of what was the former Kapurthala State Durbar Hall. Completed in 1889 it is an impressive structure, constructed in red bricks with stylised domes and stone lattice work. The door and window frames are in the Islamic style.
The state gurudwara
Inaugurated in 1915, and originally in red sandstone, this building is a scintillating epitome of a harmonious blend of the Saracenic style and Hindu temple architecture with its characteristic marble domes and interior.
The war memorial
Commenced in 1923, this red sandstone building is a splendid example of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, housing in its interior, a most remarkable bronze statue of a soldier of the Kapurthala State Forces.
The Moorish mosque
This unique building, constructed in 1930, is one of its kind in South East Asia. Very stylized, it is typically Moroccan in form and substance. Considerable specialised assistance from bodies such as UNESCO or INTACH, would be required to restore it to its former glory. Limited conservation efforts are however being made.
Mausoleum of peer yau-udin sahib(peer chaudhri)
This mausoleum stands testimony to the secularism and tolerance of the Punjabi people, specially the populace of Kapurthala. This Muslim Saint was reputedly the benefactor of the Royal House of Kapurthala. His “Dera” or residence used to be in the forecourt of the erstwhile city Palace (now defunct) of the then Rulers. When the Court moved to the new Palace, Peer Sahib was given this piece of land for his use by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala in 1902, not far from the new Palace. To this day, devotees of all persuasions, throng the mausoleum with offerings of oil and kind. This mausoleum is tended and cared for, by the local populace.
The jagatjit singh club
An interesting building situated on the main Mall road. It has high Grecian style columns and a bell tower. The building once housed a Church in the early nineteenth century. Later it was converted into a cinema hall in the 1940’s and after the integration of Kapurthala State with the Dominion of India, in 1948, it became the location of the local Club.
The bein rivulet
This picturesque and fragile ecosystem is being progressively revived, so as to provide a unique water body for recreational and conservation purposes, in this part of the Doab. Its tree lined banks and calm water, provide many possibilities for imaginative and gainful development of ecological and aquatic conservation, and recreational activities. There is no other equivalent natural asset anywhere in the Doab.
Rail coach factory complex
This complex is an interesting study of, and tribute to, the success of a high technological undertaking, succeeding in what is essentially a rural agricultural area, occasioned by the cross fertilization of traditional skills and abilities, adapting to modern training and methods.
Shalimar Gardens is a breathtaking site of cenotaphs of the former rulers of Kapurthala. Some of these cenotaphs embellished with exquisite Filigree work are a visual treat. The gardens also locate “Baradari”-a historical building which was the meeting point of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharaja Fateh Singh. The entrance gate is splendid and the gardens have a pond, a park & a library. Every year, the Basant Panchi Mela is organized here.
Is the oldest and biggest market of the city where all the items of daily use are sold. In the past, it used to be a systematic market with identical buildings but today it hardly reflects the historic image.
Built by His Highness Raja Nihal Singh in the year 1840, the palace stood for architectural elegance. A beautiful Shish Mahal formed part of the palace earlier. Now only the remains of the palace exist and are famous as Jallowkhana.
In the serene vicinity of rivulet of Bein is located, the Kanjli Lake. It is a beautiful home of migratory birds in the winter. The place has the entire infrastructure for a great fishing and boating holiday for the tourists. The wetland extends over an area of about 50 acres and is a habitat for about 40 bird species. Kanjli was declared a wetland of national importance in 1992 for the rich biodiversity it supported.
It is among Punjab’s first education institutions and was set up in 1856 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Kapurthala. It started as a leading Sanskrit institute, to promote education in one of Punjab’s richest state. In 1896 it achieved the status of an intermediate college and in 1945 it was made a degree college. From time to time, various disciplines have been introduced in the college curriculum. English was introduced in 1968, economics in 1976, B.Com. in 1986 and B.Sc. in 1991. The Jublee Hall is the main attraction of college along with its lush green ambience and a feel-good environment.
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
S.No. Name of the Hotels/ Restaurants Telephone Nos. Rent of Rooms per Day.
A.C. Room Air cooled. Ordinary Room
1. Natraj Restauran and Beer Bar, Sat Narain Bazar, Kapurthala 30442 32559 32659 500/- 350/- 200/-
2. Ramnik Restaurant & Beer Bar, Sultanpur Road, Kapurthala 35490 35696 Under Construction
3. Kapil palace, Hotel & Restaurant Tanda Road, Begowal (Kapurthala) 48111 500/- 350/- 200/-
4. Shiven Hotel & Beer Bar Jalandhar Road, Kapurthala 32033 500/- 350/- 200/-
5. Ishaan Hotel & Restaurant Jalandhar Road, Kapurthala 31189 500/- 400/- 250/-