Shiv Kumar Padha
In the words of one French traveller who visited Basohli between 1835-39 describes Basohli and its Palace; “Basohli contains a large and good-looking bazaar, and the palace would hardly, as far as I could judge, be worth the traveler’s notice, were it not for the baronial appearance of the palace of the old rajas, which I thought the very finest building of the kind I had seen in the East. And I think the grandeur of the palace not inferior to that of Heidelberg.”
Basohli town, now a sub division head quarter, is the old and historical town of Duggar Des.It is situated on the western bank of river Ravi at a distance of 72 kms from Lakhanpur the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir State. It is one among 24 states of Duggar Des and occupies an important position .Though a small and forgotten kingdome, has contributed a lot in the field of fine art and architecture to the world. The kings of Basohli claim their descent from the Chander Vanshi Pandvas of Mahabharata and remained under the Billaweria Rajput kings.Basohli state was spread over 1750 sq.miles with its territories touching Bhadarwah and Ramnagar in the north,Nurpur in the south,Chamba in the east and Ramkot in the west.
Raja Bhog Pal was the first king from Candervanshi Tomer Rajputs who initiated the process of foundation of Basohli.Raja Man Shakia eight generations after Raja Bhog Pal laid foundation of old Basohli Kingdom (Source:Th.Kahan Singh Billawria, M. S Randhawa and Narsingh Dass Nargis) on the bank of river Ravi where he constructed a palace for himself which was washed away by the successive floods in the river. Man Shakia annexed many villages and expanded its territories. It was Raja Bhoopat Pal who founded the present Basohli town 2 kms above the river level by cutting the forests and clearing the land. According to available sources it was founded in the middle of seventeenth eg.1630. As the kingdom was designed by one architecture Vishavkarma, its original name was Vishavsthali which latreon changed to Basohli. Raja Bhoopat Pal started the construction of the Basohli Palace which had got its no equal in Pahari and Duggar states.
Later on the successors of Raja Bhoopat Pal, Sangram Pal, Hindal Pal, Kirpal Pal, Dhiraj Pal, Medni Pal and Amrit Pal made successive additions from time to time. Raja Mahindra Pal added the Rang Mahal and Sheesh Mahal, which were decorated with mural paintings depicting the Nayika and other themes. The postures from the Kook Shaster and glamour were also depicted on the walls of the palace. The palaces of Basohli were so famous that the visitors from other countries especially from Asia recoganised it as the rarely available specimen of architecture in Asia.The Palaces was spread over thousands of sq.meters and were centrally air-conditioned. The procedure of cooling was based on the fact that evaporation causes coolness. To make the whole palace cool, the earthen pipes were circulated in the walls of the structure through which water at normal temperature was made to flow. Due to the evaporation in the concealed pipes the interior of the Palace used to become cool. Similarly hot water was used to make the interior warm. There were turrets circular and square built on the four sides of the palace which had beautiful open parapets around. The Rajas, with their families used to sit there in order to watch setting sun in the evening and enjoy cool breez in the morning. There was also a big water tank built adjoining to the southern wall of the palace, which served as the source of water and that of a moat for the palace. The tank was divided into three segments.two for the consumption of the public and one for the drinking of water for the animals. At the northern side of the tank there were separate bathrooms built for the use of royal family. The bath rooms were internally connected with the palace in order to provide free and concealed passage to the queens and princesses. An old Neel Kanth Temple is also the part of the palaces. In the Temple there is Shiv Lingam which is purely a diamond and weighs app.4-5 kgms. The legend goes that this diamond was studded in the bracelet of a Mahabharat warrior Candervanshi Raja Bhoorishrabha whose hand was chopped by Arjuna. A vulture lifted it alongwith the arm of the dead warrior in its paws and dropped in a well at Kishatwad from where it was recoverd as consequences of dream to the queen at night. The Lingam can be seen today also.The local people have unshakable faith in the Swami Neelkanth ji Maharaj.
The palaces are in a ruinous condition these days because no agency took interst in the care and maintenance of the palace. Still two to three floors remain buried under the debris of the collapsed parts of the palace.Threre are still valuable articles, material jewelry and other documents, which are lying buried. If the Archeological Department takes the control of this ruined monument and excavates the ruins, many secrets of the past history of Dogras will be revealed, which will go a long way in revising the Dogra history with new chapters on culture mode of living and governance in olden days. Still there is time that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir should entrust the safety maintenance and decoration of the ruins to some agency lest, these monuments become a hiding place for gamblers.These ruins can be made an asset of the State if:
1 The Tourism Department of the State maintains properly the ruins, renovate water tank, makes arrangements for filling it with water for boating purpose, constructs fastfood, snacks and cold drink corners on the wide railing of the tank and develops musical park.
2 The Sound and Drama Division develops light and sound programme based on the excerpts of Duggar and Pahari history related to their wars, aesthetic senses, songs and dance.
3 The excavation of the ruins is carried out so that many facts.
4 Information becomes available about the past.
If the suggested measures are adopted sincerely, thousands of Visitors from the nearby states will throng at Basohli to watch the unique programme and will add to the income of the State and the town.
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© 2016 State Times Daily Newspaper