Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Apr 2, 2014

ROHILAS IN INDIA 2014: 5 Punjab

February 3-7, 2014

Located on the fertile plains irrigated by Rivers Beas and Sutlej, Jalandhar area has been inhabited since the Indus Valley Civilization (3300-1300 BCE). For quite a while, the city of Jalandhar has been an important industrial and commercial center in the area, on the Grand Trunk Road (National Highway 1).

Also Jalandhar is where two of my nephews live. We spent February 3 and 4 with them and their families. Besides we used the opportunity to visit the Ghadr Party Martyr's Memorial Hall. It is a two-story monument to all patriots, who, at the cost of their life and/or freedom, had dedicated themselves to liberation of India from the British rule.

Ghadr Party Martyrs'Memorial Hall, Jalandhar

The Memorial Hall houses a display of photographs of 212 of these heroes, as well as artifacts and publications related to them and their struggles.     

Public Relations Secretary Gurmeet with displays and library in the background, GPM Hall

The organization undertakes preservation, translation and publication of their writings  and memoirs. 

Punjabi language memoirs of Ghadrite Jawala Singh

A page from Jawala Singh Memoir

The material displayed and preserved at the Hall include that relating to the brave Indians, who had helped form the Ghadr Party, at Astoria, in the U.S. state of Oregon, in May 1913. Some of them, along with other Indians from USA, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong, had left for India in 1914, to wage an armed struggle against the British rule. However, most of them were arrested upon their arrival in India. After a trial at Lahore, some of them were hanged, others sentenced to life imprisonment at the Cellular Jail, at Port Blair on the Indian ocean's Andaman& Nicobar Islands. The rest were confined to their native villages.

Some arrested Ghadr Party participants at Amritsar Railway Station in 1938
Hanging post  at Lahore Central Jail around 1915
Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

To our surprise, the Hall also had an original copy of the Proclamation regarding the Centennial of the founding of the Ghadr Party. The Proclamation had been issued on March 18, 2013, by Mr. VAn Dusen, Mayor of Astoria, Oregon.

Announcement of Ghadr Party Centennial at Astoria, Oregon USA, in 2013

When I told the Hall officials that Kundan and I had participated in the Centennial celebration held at Astoria, Oregon on October 4 and 5, 2013, they decided to take our picture with them, and the Proclamation. The picture and the related story were published on February 5, 2014, on the front page of the Punjabi language newspaper, Nawa Zamana.

Punjabi Daily Nawa Zamana, February 5, 2014
On the morning of February 5, we left Jalandhar for Patiala, where we spent three nights with my younger brother, Sushil and his wife, Rekha.

On February 6, From Patiala, we traveled to Rupar, where my family had lived for ten years (1945-54), and where three of my younger siblings, including Sushil, were born.
Like many other places I had lived at and visited in India before coming to the United States in 1967, the town had expanded, and its streets and roads were crowded. It was difficult for me to find some of the  old landmarks, and our way around..

At Rupar, we visited the high school, and college, which I, and my two older brothers had attended  until our respective graduation with a Bachelor's degree.

Government College, Rupar

Next we went to the Head Works on the Sutlej River, the source of the Sirhind Canal, one of the area's oldest and the largest irrigation systems, which had opened in 1882. During our stay at Rupar, I often went for walks, picnics and mango parties there, with friends, during my teen years.

Sirhind Canal Headworks, Rupar

From there, after lunch at a roadside Dhaba, we proceeded to the Sikh holy site of Anandpur Sahib. Founded in 1665, the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh had created Khalsa, as a martial Sikh group, for the protection of Hindus and Sikhs from the atrocities that were being committed against them by some Mughal officials. Shri Kesh Garh Sahib is a magnificent gurdwara that  stands on the site.

Shri Kesh Garh Sahib Gurdwara, Anandpur

Next morning we left for Fathegarh Sahib. On the way there we passed by green fields and witnessed jaggery being made from sugarcane juice..

Green Fields of Punjab

Making jaggery from sugarcane juice

 Fateh Garh Sahib is another important Sikh holy site, where, on December 12, 1705, the Sirhind Governor Wazir Khan had two sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Zorawar Singh, age 9, and Fateh Singh, age 7, entombed alive, for their refusal to forsake their religion.

Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib

Guru Gobind Singh's sons Zorawar Singh & Fateh Singh with his mother

Walls (Black) where the two boys were bricked alive

Next morning (February 8), we were ready to take off by car to Delhi.


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