Anthropology

Historic Narali

The village in Gujar Khan Tehsil is home to many historic monuments.

A sizeable population of Sikhs lived in Narali village in the seventeenth century.

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

Narali is located about 12 km south of Dalutala town in Gujar Khan Tehsil. It is one of the historic villages in Gujar Khan Tehsil. It is home to many historic monuments. I recently revisited Narali village to take photographs of the collapsed temple of Radhe Shyam. I first visited Narali in 2008 and later revisited it in 2009. I also made a quick visit in 2015 to take photographs of the Maaris of Lal Singh and Heera Singh, and some other havelis in the village.

According to Rai Zada Brijnath, the author of Persian manuscript “Waja Tasmia Dehat Pargana Dangali wa Pharwala,” Narali was founded by Naro Hindu in 1089. In fact, “Waja Tasmia Dehat Pargana Dangali wa Pharwala” is a good source of the history of the Gakhars. Later the village became known as Narali Chohad Lal after Gakhar chief Sardar Lal Khan son of Chohad Khan in 1515. During the Gakhar dynasty in Pothohar, the village retained its original name as Narali Chohad Lal.

According to Habib Shah Bukhari, during the Mughal period, the Pothohar region was divided into four districts namely Pharwala, Dangali, Tarkh Parri (Takhat Parri near Rawat, Islamabad) and Narali. In fact, Narali was the main headquarters of Narali district. Today no monuments of Mughals and Gakhars are extant in the village.

Haveli of Dr. Sarban Singh
Haveli of Dr. Sarban Singh

A sizeable population of Sikhs also lived in Narali in the seventeenth century. The Gurdwara of Guru Hargobind Sahib (1595-1644) was located in the village. It is believed that the father of Harbans ji was a devout follower of Guru Hargobind Sahib. Guru Hargobind Sahib stayed in Narali while coming back from Manshera. Some scholars believe that the gurdwara was earlier famous as Tapa Harbans Ji and later became famous as the Gurdwara of the Sixth Patshahi. Some scholars have written that the Samadhi of Bhai Harbans Singh is built like a temple under a banyan tree near the gurdwara.  Actually, it is not a Samadhi but the temple of Radhe Shyam Santan Dharam Sabha, built in 1945 (Vikram Samvat, 2002). The mason Muhammad Akbar of Dhoong village near Narali constructed the temple. The gurdwara of the Sixth Patshahi does not exist in Narali village now. The remains of the walls of the gurdawra can be seen southeast of the Maari of Lal Singh and Heera Singh near the house of Shaikh Mumtaz Shaheen in the village. Samadhis of Hindu ascetics are located south of the village and are locally called Dehri.   There was a structure over Dehri (samadhi) probably of a Nath Yogi. The building was constructed over a double plinth. Today only the double plinth of the Dehri of an ascetic is extant. There are four other Samadhis near the Dehri. The remains of a chamber are also seen near the Dehri. All the samadhis now lie in a dilapidated condition.

Debris of Radhe Shyam temple
Debris of Radhe Shyam temple

The temple of Radhe Shyam, which was under a banyan tree on the bank of a water tank, collapsed on 31 August 2020. The debris of the temple is lying on the site. The Maari (mansion) owned by two Sikh brothers Heera Singh and Lal Singh is located on the other side of the tank. This is a three-story building – now only two stories of the structure are extant. This Maari is noted for carved wooden doors and a wooden ceiling. And this Maari is erroneously called a gurdwara by some scholars. The construction work of this Maari started in 1915 and was completed in 1919. Two masons Sardar Ali and Muhammad Wali from Natha Chhatar village near Daultala built the Maari.

Haveli of Budh Singh
Haveli of Budh Singh

Heera Singh was a government contractor by profession whereas his brother Lal Singh ran a business of brick kilns. There are also some other Maaris (mansions) in Narali which are either two or three-storeyed. The third and second story of some of the havelis have collapsed now. And the Maari of Munshi Gopal Singh alias Munshi Pala, which is a three-story structure, is also noted for wooden doors and its balcony. Munshi Gopal Singh was a schoolmaster in Government Junior Vernacular School in Narali. In the same street is the haveli of Dr. Sarban Singh which was a two-story haveli and was decorated with wooden balcony. This haveli was constructed by the mason Ameer Ali of Narali village. The second story of the haveli is collapsed and so is the balcony.

A door in the haveli of Partab Singh
A door in the haveli of Partab Singh

All the havelis of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of Narali had ornate carved wooden doors. The doors of the majority of the mansions are still extant. The   Maari of Partab Singh has four highly carved doors. One does not find such refined wood carvings in the nearby villages. Even the nearby town Daultala does not have such wooden doors in any of the Maaris or building. Floral and geometric designs are made on the four wooden doors of the Maari. It had also a wooden ceiling but was removed by a resident when it started to weaken.

The havelis of Mangal Singh and Budh Singh are also noted for woodwork. The Maari of Mangal Singh has ornately carved wooden doors. It is also noted for having a beautiful wooden balcony.

There were also a few wells with inscriptions but all these have now disappeared. Even so, the inscribed slabs are preserved. One of the wells locally known as ‘Baboun wala Kuwan’ was commissioned by Sardar Natha Singh, Mangal Singh and Budh Singh sons of Sardar Mahal Singh Sethi in memory of their mother Mata Ameer Devi. Another well, now disappeared, was locally called ‘Sant Pura wala Kuwan’ – commissioned by Seva Singh and Lal Singh. Apart from inscriptions on walls of the wells, there is another inscription which is preserved on a wall of the village tank.

Apart from the gurdwara, temple, Samadhi (dehri) and Maaris, there was a small temple which was erected in memory of a woman who immolated herself with the dead body of her husband. This shows that Sati worship was once common in the Pothohar region. This small temple was located near the Bethak of Sultan Sakhi Sarwar. There is no documentary proof to confirm that Sultan Sakhi Sarwar, a 12th-century Sufi saint visited Narali village. His devotee might have established his bethak in the village, but is yet to confirm who his first devotee in Narali was. Apart from the Bethak of Sultan Sakhi Sarwar, there is another bethak of a Sufi saint which is associated with a saint from Qadirpur in Talagang tehsil. It is common in South Asia to mark a place in the name of patron saints which becomes a sacred space and a shrine over time. On can see several such sacred spaces which are associated with eminent Sufi saints in Punjab and Sindh.

Maari of Lal Singh and Heera Singh
Maari of Lal Singh and Heera Singh

Narali village also produced many Sufis and religious scholars. Some of the religious scholars and Sufis of the village include Hazrat Pir Muhammad Suchiar, Sain Muhammad Akbar alias Baba Daray Wale, Qazi Allah Ditta, Syed Ali Akbar Bokhari, Sain Muhammad Ashraf Qadiri, Khawaja Muhammad Nawaz Shah Suhrawardi etc.

Hazrat Pir Muhammad Suchiar (d.1707) was born in Narali village. Later his father migrated to Gujrat. The shrine of Hazrat Pir Muhammad Suchiar is located at Noshahra Miana in  Jalapur Jattan in Gujrat district. He was a deputy of Haji Muhammad Naushah Ganj Bakhsh Naushah Qadiri (d. 1654), the founder of Nasushahi branch of Qadiri Silsila. The shrine of Haji Muhammad Naushah Ganj Bakhsh is located at Ranmal Sharif in Phalia tehsil in the district of Mandi Bahauddin.

Qazi Allah Ditta (d. 1893) was an eminent religious scholar of Narali who translated the Holy Quran into Persian in 1863. The grave of Qazi Allah Ditta is located near the Qazian Mosque in the Rajgan mohalla of Narali.

Khawaja Muhammad Nawaz Shah Suhrawardi (1936-2018), whose shrine is located in Narali, was a disciple of Khawaja Muhammad Naqibullah Shah (1895-1995). The shrine of Khawaja Muhammad Naqibullah Shah is located in Bhalo village in Kasur district.

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Dr Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro - Sindh CourierZulfiqar Ali Kalhoro is an anthropologist and author of 12 books including ‘Symbols in Stone: The Rock Art of Sindh’, ‘Perspectives on the art and architecture of Sindh’, ‘Memorial Stones: Tharparkar’ and ‘Archaeology, Religion and Art in Sindh’. He may be contacted at: zulfi04@hotmail.com

Courtesy: The Friday Times Lahore

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