Gurgaon Heritage

  • Atul Dev
  • India
  • Nov 23, 2012

The current Heritage Week being celebrated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is a reminder for us to take stock of our own heritage sites in Gurgaon. Unfortunately, we are living in that part of the National Capital Region where not many heritage properties or natural heritage sites exist.  Gurgaon is quite outside the area where the Muslim or Mughal rulers set up base; and is also away from the erstwhile Rajputana belt (of Rajasthan), where the ruling houses of yore built forts or palaces.


Yet, with efforts put in by active Members of INTACH, a fair number of heritage sites in the Gurgaon area have been located and listed. We have located valuable heritage sites in Farrukhnagar, Sohna, Badshapur, Pataudi – and of course in Gurgaon city itself.

The town of Gurgaon came into prominence in the 19th century, when it was occupied by a cavalry unit posted to watch over the army of Begum Samru of Sardhana (a small township on the outskirts of Meerut), who maintained a mercenary Army and whose principal cantonment was in the village of Jharsa (just off NH-8). The buildings of heritage significance in Gurgaon are Aliwardi Masjid, the Kaman Sarai (built in 1925), the Church of the Epiphany and a few British-period residential buildings in the Civil Lines area. The Church and the Kaman Sarai (Officers' Mess) mark the period when the British stationed a garrison in Gurgaon, soon after 1857.


The Baoli in Badshahpur, and the 400 year old Mosque in Bhondsi, are two important structures that throw light on the populace of this area. An interesting monument in Sohna is the half-completed wall built by the Jats of Bharatpur. Also in Sohna is a well preserved, but unknown, tomb of the 15th century, and the Dargah of Nazam-ul-Haq (built in 1461).

Farrukhnagar, a small town 21 kms north of Gurgaon, is home to some very fascinating monuments. Like all such settlements in Northern India, Farrukhnagar was a walled village. It had five gates. Of these just two remain – the Delhi Gate and the Jhajjar Gate. The design concept and positioning of the Gates clearly indicate a paranoia for security. Within Farrukhnagar is a beautiful palace of the ruler – Sheesh Mahal, built in 1733. Although under the charge of Haryana Tourism, this very pretty monument is suffering from neglect. Three more monuments make a visit to Farrukhnagar a very fascinating experience – a well repaired three storied Baoli, a neglected Chhatri – with very beautiful frescos on its ceiling, and the Sita-Ram Mandir/Jami Masjid – where Hindu, Muslim and Sikh rites are performed simultaneously!


A very unique heritage property has been lost – the 14.7 km narrow gauge railway line, that connected Garhi Harsu Railway Station to Farrukhnagar Railway Station. This line was laid by the British to transport salt from Farrukhnagar to Garhi Harsu, where it was trans-shipped to the main line of Western Railway (earlier called Bombay, Baroda & Central India (BB & CI) Railway). It had two steam locomotives; one of them is currently displayed in the Steam Locomotive Rail Museum in Rewari, and the other outside the main entrance to Baroda House (near India Gate). Unfortunately, in recent years the tracks have been ripped out and sold as scrap.

In Pataudi we have the well known Pataudi Palace, currently run as a resort hotel by the Neemrana Group. Nearby is the Akbar Manzil, built after 1857 as the official residence of the then Nawab. Later this building was converted into a kachehri (judicial complex), and is now used as a godown (store).


No narrative of our heritage properties in Gurgaon can be considered complete without the mention of Dhaoli Piao, which existed just outside the entrance to Garden Estate, and had been restored by INTACH. It was demolished overnight by the bulldozers of Delhi Metro, when they were constructing the Dronacharya Metro Station. A story best forgotten, though with a heavy heart... 

(Atul Dev is a Gurgaon based senior freelance journalist)


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