Rohtak District - Art and Cultural Heritage

Art and Cultural Heritage

The art and architectural heritage of the town is in utter neglect. Till a decade ago the old city alleys and Railway Road had about 50 havelis (mansions) built in traditional architectural styles. Many stone facades with beautiful carvings and motifs were stripped from the walls and sold to heritage traders for paltry sums. Muslim masons did all the decorative work in stone and fabricated woodcrafted door sets in these havelis. The rise of commerce and paucity of space forced the owners to demolish the fine old structures for building shopping complexes. There is no policy with the State Government or City Fathers to protect the heritage of the city. In spite of a local chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) functioning in the district, not much except listing of valuable properties could be done because most heritage properties are in private ownership and INTACH's local chapter does not have funds or the infrastructure to carry out listing and conservation work. However, Mr. Ranbir Singh, a cultural historian and formerly Co-convenor of State Chapter of INTACH, functioning from Rohtak, has documented extensively in the last 25 years the art and architectural heritage not only of the Rohtak District but also the entire Haryana on his own. He has a large collection of brilliant photographs of the heritage properties besides documenting history of the heritage value buildings, historical villages and towns of the district. Early in 2009 Mr. Ranbir Singh completed detailed profiles of about 40 heritage value properties both in private as well as public domain with photographs and handed over the documents to the Convener of the Haryana Chapter of INTACH. This documentation, appreciated both by architects as well as art historians, has also been placed for reference in the archives in the central library of INTACH Headquarters located at Lodi Estate, New Delhi. Architectural descriptions of several properties including many topics that belong the life and culture of the people of Haryana have been published in an illustrated book viz. Traditions of North India -Art, Crafts and Architecture of Haryana authored by Bhup Singh Gulia and edited and contributed by Mr. Ranbir Singh. A couple of illustrated articles on the old skills of woodcrafts persons of Haryana are under consideration of publication in 'Marg', a magazine on art and culture. This magazine also published his illustrated article on the antiquity of Farrukhnagar (dist. Gurgaon) in issue No.63(2).

The famous 12th century Asthal Bohar Monastery has also been modernized by its present Mahant Chand Nath. The oldest shrine at this place was built above the Smadh of Sidh Baba Chaurangi Nath (Bhagat Pooran Mall son of Raja Shalivan of Sialkot, now in Pakistan) under which also lay the grave of Sidh Baba Masth Nath who lived in the mid-eighteenth century AD. The shrine of Sidh Baba Tota Nath, in this campus, had beautiful frecoes painted in the early nineteenth century and done in Rajput style. Some of these, near the dome had the colors chipped off and are fading fast. The present Mahant was indifferent to the preservation of these fine frescoes, very important for art historians. In the month of January 2012, Chand Nath, the present Mahant of the Mutt, had got all the old memorial chhatris that belonged to Siddh Baba Mast Nath, Tota Nath, Megh Nath, Mohar Nath and Chet Nath demolished in one go to create way for a fabulously planned temple structure to be raised on the same lines as that of Akshardham at Delhi. Along with these, the old vestiges of frescoes in the chhatris too are gone. It is heartning to note the monuments and frescoes were preserved as images by Ranbir Singh, the renowned cultural historian of Haryana. Similarly, in the year 2007, the beautifully carved stone facade of the Digambar Jain Mandir in Barra Bazar was stripped off and sold just for Rs.1 lakh (about US $2500) in the year 2006. It was a precious piece of art. Several havelis situated in the old city and Railway road are giving way to modern buildings thus depriving the city of its traditional and beautiful character. Many large villages around Rohtak city could boast of many fine buildings that had decorative elements and traditional architecture. Now, these are in bad condition and crumbling.

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