Author: Mohinder Singh
Photographer: Sondeep Shankar
Publisher: UBS Publishers
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174764631
Panjab, literally land of five rivers, has been the cradle of the world’s oldest civilization dating back to BC 2500. It was on this land that the oldest scripture of the world, the Rigveda, was written and some of the best centres of learning developed. It was also in Panjab that some of the epic battles, including that of Mahabharat, were fought. Because of its geographical location, Panjab has been the gateway to all invaders entering through the North-West Frontier.
It was because of the frequent invasions and conflict over possession of territories that some sort of regular armies came into existence, which necessitated building of forts for protection of the kings and their armies in times of crisis. Establishment of rule by different chieftains, kings and emperors also resulted in building of places for the royal families and havelis for their chiefs and the ruling elite. While most of the impregnable forts were built on the North-West Frontier in West Punjab, which now forms art of Pakistan, we find many forts, majestic palaces and havelis in Eastern Panjab too, including areas which now form part of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Most of the important forts in Panjab lost their strategic and military importance with the British occupation of Panjab and sea routes replacing the traditional land routes through North-West Frontier.
As a result of independence of India and merger of princely stats with the Indian Union, these chiefs of princely India suddenly lost their glory and grandeur. While some of the palaces, like the Jagatjit Palace, Kapurthala, and the Motibagh Palace, Patiala, were converted into Sainik School and National Institute of Sports, some others are being used as police training centres and government offices, with the result that their maintenance and upkeep has gone to the back seat. Through pictures and narration, an attempt has been made to provide a glimpse of the endangered heritage of Panjab and create the needed awareness for conservation.