Monday, December 28, 2009

A lotta history - KOTGARH

- Millie Thakur Vanjape

The Nalwa family legend passed down through the ages by word of mouth from father to son, dates back probably to medieval India, the time of the Muslim invasions. Raja Nal was the ruler of a Kingdom in Bharat Varsh, in the Indo - Gangetic plains. He lost his empire in a gambling session. Unable to bear the ignominy of his folly Nal sought refuge in the Himalayas. During the course of his wanderings he reached Narkanda.The locals adopted and offered him land & built him a house at Marni, below Narkanda (batnal), and the Hatu peak, facing Kotgarh. The rani gathered her valuables and decided to follow her husband. They had two sons the elder Bhim Singh and the younger Dhian Singh. Dhian Singh and the rani, perished in a flash flood caused by a cloud burst. A grieving Bhim Singh moved and settled down at Baghot, a place above village Bhareri.The ruins of the house he built are still there. However, in recent times the forest department has built a range hut & damaged the ruins considerably.

Bhim and his descendants lived at Baghot till the onset of the Gurkha invasions. The invaders were called 'Garhias'. Fed up with the daily looting, the lone descendant of Bhim sought the advice of 'Kot Guru', a rishi revered both by the locals and Garhia's alike. The rishi advised him to move down from Baghot to a spot below the ashram, where Gorton High School and the post office is located. This is where the descendant of Nal set up his abode and raised his family.Guru Ka Kot, the rishi's ashram, was situated in Pichla Danthala. The people were in awe of him and feared his wrath. With the passage of time the area of ' Kot Guru ' came to be known as Kotgarh and the residents are till date referred to as ' Kotguru ' The family members have adopted different surnames as Bhaik, Thakur, Kaith and Nalwa. The Mehta's of village Kirti in Kotgarh are also from the Nal Gotra.

Sometime in 1998 my grandpa had met Mr. Anil Bhaik, a petition writer at Rampur Bushahar and learnt from him that several Bhaik families were living beyond Rampur in 15 Bish and he is one of them. Nobody knows from where and when they migrated. Ram Singh Kaith was the Patwari of Outer Siraj in Kullu District. The Deputy commissioner was pleased with his services and rewarded him with the huge piece of land known as Village Koel.

The Bushahar State boundary extended from Kinnaur to Kalka. Raja Shamsher Singh, grandfather of Virbhadar Singh the state congress president,was the ruler during the 19th.century.The state was further parcelled out into small pricipalities governed by local Rana's. Kotgarh and Kotkhai was ruled by one such Rana.The Rana spent most of his time at Kotkhai and just a couple of summer months at Kotgarh. In his absence his representative the 'Mukhia' or chief,looked after Kotgarh.

It is believed that THALADU or his son PALLU ( Dada's grand father) was the Rana's Mukhia at Kotgarh in 1845 AD. During his annual visit that year the Rana saw a young beautiful woman carrying a pitcher of water from the 'khobli ba' to her house in Laptari. The Rana ordered his guards to bring the woman to his chamber that night. The guards immediately went to the womans house and ordered her father in law, Mhashu, to send his daughter in law to the Rana. The woman was the newly wedded bride of Mhashu's son and this proposition was unacceptable. The old man went to the Mukhia and sought his advice. The Mukhia assured Mhashu that he will persuade the Rana to desist from his desire.

However,when the Rana refused to listen to reason the Mukhia asked Mhashu to arrange a feast at his home that evening and invite all the male members from near by villages. The Mukhia had a plan. That night when the woman did not turn up the Rana was furious and ordered his guards to go and bring her immediately. The Mukhia was waiting and when the guards came they were caught and killed. The villagers then attacked the Rana but he managed to flee and reached Kumarsain via Chimla during the night and requested the Rana for help.

The Rana of Kumarsain only helped him to reach Kotkhai. A humiliated and furious Rana plotted and set out to take revenge in early 1846.The Mukhia was prepared and ambushed the raiding party at Hatu and repulsed the attackers. Another attempt met a similar fate. The Rana went to Kalka and asked the British Political Agent for help. The British were always on the look out for such opportunities and immediately dispatched soldiers under the command of a captain to help the Rana. The captain ousted the Mukhia who moved to Danthla. Three months later when the political agent visited Kotgarh and learnt the truth he apologised to the Mukhia and offered him back his land but was not accepted. The Agent then made out a document according to which the British would run a charitable school and hospital on the land.

If ever these institutions were closed down the property would revert to the descendants. Thus a hospital, church and Gorton Mission High School came to be set up - and are still there.

This was narrated by my grand father (Late Shiv Ram Thakur) to my father (Avninder Thakur) on the 1st of January 1999.


I was born into (woke up one day belonging to) the Nalwa Family!!

I am from Kotgarh... Need I say more

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting to KOTGARH

Driving Distance from Delhi: 10 Hours.

Route: Delhi - Ambala - Chandigarh - Kalka - Kandaghat - Shogi - Shimla - Theog - Narkanda - Kotgarh.

Time to visit: Throughout the year

Temperature: It vary with the seasons.
May to September have pleasant days (light woolens) and cold nights while April & October have pleasant days. The night temperature may dip to 5 degrees. During winters, there may be snowfall and temperatures dip sharply.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christianity in Kotgarh

On 22nd February 1910, at the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection in Lahore, Bishop George Alfred Lefroy (1854-1922) inaugurated the Brotherhood of the Imitation of Jesus. Reverend Samuel Stokes (1882-1946), an American missionary, became the provisional Minister-General of this Franciscan Brotherhood. Reverend Frederick Western (1880-1951) of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and Reverend C. F. Andrews (1871-1940) possessed loose personal associations with the Brotherhood. Its intent embraced service to the sick and education for the young.

The Brotherhood was located at Kotgarh in Punjab. It had ties with the Church Missionary Society and the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. The Brotherhood collapsed in 1912 when Stokes left it to marry an Indian woman; the later phase of Chritistian religious and missionary activities started to take on a dramatic turn their on.