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Pur Suroor and Parsu Ram


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Once upon a time, there was a princely state with the name, Amber. Long before Hawa Mehal and Jantar Mantar became the icons of this pink city, Man Singh of the Kechwah dynasty was a reference to this place. Akbar, pleased with the acumen of this prince, granted him a fiefdom, which lied on way to Kashmir. Man Singh knew Moghuls too well, so he decided not to stay away from the court. He gifted this land to his Jain beneficiaries, who had financed many of his campaigns. The Jains happily moved from Rajasthan and settled here. They would have excelled as tillers but the inherent art of knitting compelled them to take up weaving as an alternative source of income. Soon, the Jain Chaudharies were famous as producers and traders of hand-made apparel, which was so profound a source of revenue that it found place in the gazetteers. Jehangir passed through this land on his way to Kashmir and was mesmerised with it’s serenity. He named it Pur Suroor, full of joy. The name eventually deteriorated to Pasroor. There are opinions that the name is derived from one Parsu Ram but that is another story. The town is either mentioned as the resting place for Moghul caravans or their hunting site and that is good for the rest of sub-continent.

The city has two gates, Tehsil Gate and Kakazai Gate, and the old settlements are covered in the folds of the city wall. Broken from many places, the wall indicates antiquity. The shrines of Jalal ud din Shah Bukhari, Imam Ali ul Haq’s brother and Mian Barkhurdar are located within the convenient distance of the faithful in various parts of the city. An octagonal pond and a garden also exist on one side. The ruins of a canal can also be traced. Darashikoh, who ordered this canal, was the Moghul prince who was murdered by pious Alamgir, as he represented the change. The shamshan ghat lies on one side and mentions of Peer Muradya, on the other. This completes the landscape of the city.

The walled city contains mohallah Vesiali, mohallah Patti and mohallah Khokhran. A 12th century mosque sits in mohallah Kakay Zaiyan, another old dwelling. The old buildings of the city are haveli Muhkam Chand and the baradari of the ruler, Sangat Rai. The haveli has lost its glory and the baradari has been demolished to construct the residence of the local principal. A temple constructed by the Maharaja of Jammu, known as Gainda Mandir, was also located inside the mohallah. It was demolished by the faithful on this side as the faithful on the other side decided to discover the origin of a mosque. Another temple has moved inside a school to escape mob madness, a lesson for all those who think schools and religious places cannot coexist.

When the Jain merchants expanded their cloth business, they carried the bundles on horseback and sold it in neighboring villages. Baba Dharam Das was one such trader. One day when he left, his horse returned bareback. Baba Dharam was popular due to his piety in the local Jain community so they built a Samadhi in the outskirts of the city to honor this murdered saint.  After the August 1947, the Jain community left Pakistan for India.

With riches came nostalgia and after a few prosperous years, they started missing their homes. Years later, the devotees of Baba Dharam Das would visit Pasroor, find a brick or stone of the Samadhi, take it to India and construct a whole new Samadhi with the remains of this stone. The two Samadhis, constructed by the devotees of Baba, in Meerut and Dehli carry the dust of Pasroor. How accurately says the Bible…

“Both thorn and thistles it should bring forth, for us. For out of the ground we were taken for the dust we are, and to the dust we shall return.”

Alongside the railway track, there is an old pond. It was called Deoka Nullah. On its bank, Baba Nanak met Mian Mitha, a local saint, while coming back from Hajj. Mian Mitha had a word with Baba Nanak. He recited a verse implying the importance of the Kalma and Baba Nanak replied with equal logic, the importance of good intent. The two, though disagreed, departed in good faith. Later, a Gurudwara was constructed and was named as Gurudwara Manji Saheb. There are many Gurudwaras by this name dispersed throughout Punjab but this one is in the most dilapidated condition. All that remains is a dried bed of the pond and crumbling walls. Frequent travelers in the district refer to this place as the ‘Jungle’ and agriculture authorities have constructed a research extension here.

The city has now taken a new look, a cadet college is much more well-known than the octagonal pond. Gurudwaras, temples, old buildings and the Samadhi have been lost long ago. And while they were sinking in the sand of time, on the other side of the border, a strange ritual was practiced every evening. All the siblings from the Bhabhra family listed the railway stations that fell on the line between Pasroor and Lahore. Mr Bhabhra, a Jain, had migrated from Pasroor. The others were taken up by routine but one, Surinder, of those siblings is compiling the history of Pasroor. He has penned down the lives of Pasroor in general, and Bhabhras’ in particular. It enlists the brackish wells of Pasroor and the irrigation regimen. It also recalls the chimes that were hung in the direction of the wind and gave the warning of rains and were shifted twice on equinox. Bargaining was a way of life in Pasroor and they did it for engaging each other as conversations used to drift to other avenues. The only time for premeditated haggling, Surinder remembers, was when the Taziya was placed in the lawn and the money demanded was given with a smile.

Next is the tale of three brothers and the forts they established. Deedar Singh, Mian Singh and Sobha Singh. Whenever the construction of Sobha Singh fort started, some natural calamity prevailed. A fortune-teller advised the Maharaja to have Muslim blood drained in the foundations. Maharaja, as they usually were wise men, consulted Bulaq Shah, a local saint, who confirmed it and devised a method. A Muslim was called and his finger was pricked. The drop of blood that left the finger fell into the foundations and the construction started. The ruins merely serve as a reminder of the fort now, however, the school constructed in the fort is functioning.

The train stops at Sobha Singh for a while. Everything is the same, the white washed walls, the bell, the railway line, the ticket counter but something is different. Since the train halts for a little while, before the whistle blows, it realises that the name of the place has been changed … from Sobha Singh to Ahmed Abad.


The author is a federal government employee.



The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Muhammad Hassan Miraj is a federal government employee.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (42) Closed

Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:47am
Thanks Surinder Saheb,
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:48am
Avtar Saheb, it was sattire
arvind Nov 05, 2012 01:57pm
one the most rich community too
Anshu Nov 05, 2012 07:33pm
Good one. Nostalgic...
Binu Nov 06, 2012 11:16am
Moreover.... they do not believe in existence of 'THE GOD'
malaydeb Nov 05, 2012 12:11pm
Great quote, Abdus. You made my day.
malaydeb Nov 06, 2012 12:07pm
If it was meant to be a joke, its poor. If humour, its pathetic.
Avtar Nov 05, 2012 07:07pm
Nicely done. I do object to the use of word pious for Alamgir Aurangzeb. He murdered not only his brother Dara but other brothers as well not to mention hundreds of non-muslims. Aurangzeb reintroduced Jaziya after Akbar abolished it. I guess in Pakistan different Mughal rulers are preferred than in India. For instance, Akbar is well regarded as a secularist.
malaydeb Nov 05, 2012 12:07pm
Great read in a long time. You are blessed. You can hear the unspoken words that floats around the air you breath.
varinder Abrol Nov 06, 2012 08:01pm
I did read the story of Gunna Kalan, what a story and so Nostalgic. Wish I could fly and be there.
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:45am
Pakistan...and it was real...
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:50am
Vishnu Saheb, I checked up with lot of old locals. Though you do not infd chaudharies in Jains but strangely, in this locality they were referred as Chaudharies
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:27am
Lucky country down under.... This is about a place in Pakistan..
Sudhir Nov 06, 2012 09:46am
capture in words, some of your Nani's memories and write down
John Farnsworth (Australia) Nov 06, 2012 07:22am
Is this a story about India or Pakistan? I am a history teacher and since my grand father was a Colonel in the British India, I try to learn about our Raj over you. But this article had me confused.
Cynical Nov 06, 2012 06:45am
No. You are wrong. Muslims are the most peaceful community in the world. We don't create trouble for anybody, but everybody gives us trouble
malaydeb Nov 06, 2012 12:01pm
It is about an area which was part of India before partition, when the country was divided into two parts, namely Pakistan and India. Now this area falls within Pakistan. Hope, it helps.
Varinder Abrol Nov 06, 2012 05:29am
since 1970 and currently living in Mclean Virginia, suburb of Washington DC Miss and talk about Pasrur most every day amongst my family.
Varinder Abrol Nov 06, 2012 05:26am
I was born in Pasrur. I was two years old when we had to leave and run for our lives. We lived near the Railway station right across the Govt. High school where we had a Rice Mill. I was the youngest .I have been in the USA
Varinder Abrol Nov 06, 2012 05:20am
I was born in Pas
P.R.Koduri Nov 06, 2012 01:07am
Held me spellbound. Mesmerizing writing. It is like a relaxed visit to the past. I am not from Pasroor but I can see how much more riveting it could be if I were. This is humanizing archeology and great story-telling.
Shilpa Nov 05, 2012 12:16pm
My Naani was from Pasrur......I live in New delhi now and hope to visit my roots some day.
Prak Nov 05, 2012 06:10pm
Jainism is probably the world's most noble religion. Forget eating animals, they are not permitted to kill plants for food. So fruits leaves and overground vegetables are fine, but they cannot eat root vegetables or anything to kill plants. Killing of any animal or insect for any reason is forbidden. Long may the Jains live- they represent the best of human morality
surrinder gill USA Nov 05, 2012 11:59pm
Miraj Sahib, God bless you. You are great job to introduce us to those places of my lovely Punjab which due to partition of this great land we may not see in our lives. I wish that if not united at least every Punjabi from both sides should be free to visit the places of their origin and ancesters without any fear and visa formalities. I always wait full week to read you article. I now understand the meaning of a couplet in Shiri Guru Granth Sahib which goes like that HAJI PUCHEYE WADA HINU KE MUSLMAN HOYE. BABE AKHIYA HAJIA SHUBH AMLA BAJOH DONO ROYE. It means that haji asked guru that who is superior Hindu or Muslman. The Guru replied that without good deeds (amals) both are worthless. In other words these are only your actions, the things you do which make you good and better human beings and not just blind fanatic faith. One again thanks for the article. If you have eamil or website. Let me know.
Cyrus Howell Nov 05, 2012 11:44pm
Peace be upon them.
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:53am
Varinder Saheb, is there anyone from the family alive who remembers the area and have you read the previous episode about Gunna Kalan
Koi-Kon Nov 06, 2012 10:51am
Cyrus Howell Nov 05, 2012 11:42pm
"...Another temple has moved inside a school to escape mob madness..." . We all know it will be perfectly safe there.
Jay Nov 05, 2012 11:45am
The Jains are known to be the most peaceful community in the world.
Gulbaz Mushtaq Nov 05, 2012 06:07pm
Let me comment on this article before I read it... "This is great."
saigandhi Nov 05, 2012 04:32pm
nice piece - nostalgic - this guy should be nominated for something - fostering friendship etc.
kamaljit Singh Nov 06, 2012 07:47am
Jain religion is said to be the oldest religion. Lord Mahvir is the god of Jains. It is nothing to do with Hinduism except the Jain first names are common to Hindu or Sikh names.
Kaustav Nov 05, 2012 02:17pm
Hassan, you are blessed with the gift of writing ! What imagery. Hope to see more from you. And loved Abdus' quote of Khayyaam.
varinder Abrol Nov 06, 2012 07:59pm
I have three older sisters and two older brothers still alive. My oldest brother died 2 years back. We actually hail from a village, Thro, which is about 3 miles from Chwinda. My father studied at Govt High school Chwinda, before going to college in Lahore. Bhagat Singh, after murdering the Judge ran and was hiding in the same Dormitory where my Dad was. My Dad started the Rice Mill in Pasrur and thats where we all were born. My oldest sister got married in 1943 when she was 16. She also lives ain USA with her son. All my family members , except me know everything about Pasrur. i was only 2 when we left for India.
Abdus Salam Khan Nov 05, 2012 11:25am
This wonderful snapshot of the past glory of Pasrur by Miraj and the current sad and dilapidated condition of the historical landmarks like the Havelis, the Gurdawaras, the Canal and the nearby Fort, Qila Sobha Singh, brought the following quatrain by Omar Khayyaam to mind: The lion and the lizard keep The palace, where Jamshed the Great drank deep; And lo! that Great Hunter of wild asses, Behram, Wild asses stamp over his head, whilst he sleeps!
Vishnu Dutta Nov 05, 2012 03:55pm
Great read, you have immortalized the unwritten history and stories. However there is a mistake, Jains dont have chaudharies in their sysem.
Amir Nov 06, 2012 02:43pm
My Mother was born and raised in Pusroor. Reading this article I suddenly feel the urge to go and visit. Oh how I wish pakistan was a safe sane country..
Koi-Kon Nov 05, 2012 07:16pm
Kamaljit Saheb, It was a typing error, and will be corrected shortly.
Amandeep Singh Nov 05, 2012 03:36pm
Nice work brother. I expressions take into these places and I smell the fragrance of my fore fathers. God Bless!!!
kamaljit Singh Nov 05, 2012 11:53am
Beautifully written. Jain is not a caste but it is a religion, as is Hindu or Muslim.
VIVEK Nov 05, 2012 01:15pm
jain is a sect withing hinduism
Koi-Kon Nov 05, 2012 01:18pm
Kamaljit Saheb, It was a typing error and will be corrected shortly.