A glimpse of Jhanda mela in dehradun


Whatever we may had called our Doon, but since two centuries we know it as “Dehra”. The name emerged from the Sikh word “dera” which means camping. In 1675, Ram Rai, the son of Guru Har Rai camped to Garhwal region of present uttarakhand, the area was known as the part of kedarkhand (abode of Shiva) ruled by the emperor of Garhwal Fateh Shah. Settling a dera was not a big challenge for Guru Ram Rai as, he was welcomed by the Garhwal emperor. Dehradun was an independent kingdom. As at that time most of the land was not used for agriculture in the region, Udasin sect of Sikhism were the main contributor to it. They bought food and other ingredients, which was the main reason that localities of eighteenth century started growing Basmati and sugarcane in such a vast amount that it became the most famous product of this town. The help by king Fateh shah was at such extent that the tomb in Dhamawala bazaar in Dehradun was planned and funded by him.

The architectural coding of the Jhanda Durbar still contains Mughal impressions at most of the places. Most of the roofs and tomb and pillars reminded us of the Mughal shrines and mazars. The colour blend and selection of the patterns also founded analogical to the tomb of Jahangir and shah jahan. Initially the jhanda sahib was gurudwara and a dera too. But at the end when English came to reign by defeating Nepal, the gurudwara got converted to shrine of Guru and his four wives. Since the establishment of the shrine “jhanda mela” (the fair) is celebrated as a sign of win and prosperity of udasin sect of Sikhism. Though the exact dates are not available but it can easily be understood that the tomb remained in construction during the well-established situations. Many of the walls were encrypted with Urdu and Arabic which might be the names of the person who served during the reign. The post medieval period India can be conclude harmonious as far as religion is considered.

Another part of the research that lacks for sake of Doon is why there is so much change in the name of the region from time to time. During Mahabharata it was called” Dronanagri” in Ashokan time it was called “Shudhnagar” while in Skanda Purana it was the region in KedarKhanda. This led us to another question that did the change in name was due to factors like extinction of human , time gap between different civilization, influence of the different religion or community. So, does the name “dera”, it was the influence of English in the region that renamed it to “dehra”.  The franchise of SGRR is the most famous part of Doon. But, it was not before the settlement of the British rule in India. Though setting of the Ayurveda based hospitals were the priority of guru ram rai but, the seasonal visit made it not much effective. It was the post-independence era that made the SGRR franchise in bigger mode and boosted the growth.

A glimpse of Jhanda mela in dehradun
A glimpse of Jhanda mela in dehradun

The literature like contemporary writings mention Garhwal as a very prosperous state during Fateh Shah’s reign.[3] Fateh shah was a great patron of art and literature. Like Vikramaditya and Akbar, he is said to have nine illustrious figures (Navaratnas) in his court: Sureshanand Barthwal, Revatram Dhasmana, Rudridutt Kimothi, HariDutt Nautiyal, Vasvanand Bahuguna, Shashidhar Dangwal,Sahdev Chandola, Kirit Ram Khanthola, and HariDutt Thapliyal.This was the main reason that fateh Singh focused too  much on the architectural aspect of the jhanda durbar’s tomb.

Influenced by the peacock blue from Persia the painting made were vibrant and symmetrical that some time creates illusion to one’s eye. Many dissimilarities can be drawn from the architecture of the shrines that stand tall enough that Sikh architecture also played an important role in construction. The octagonal towers on every side of shrines of queens is the toughest evidence that differs from Mughal architecture. The doors with hung chunaries was add-on to the monument. The establishment of jhanda every year at the front door of the durbar was adamant change that caused it to be recognised as a part of udasi sect of Sikhism. Many dera of Punjab still perform this action to establish its identity.

It was in 1757 that Najib-ud –dawlah invaded Dehradun for the Mughals and established it as an agriculture hub for Saharanpur. He also focused on conserving the heritage of the area. Najib-ud- dawlah is still given the credits of creating mango groves in Doon that still survive in heart of city.





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