A visit to Sheesh Mahal reveals how grand the architecture of the building was. Built in red sandstone and Mughal bricks of small size, the back, upper and the underground portions of the Mahal are in complete shambles. Broken wine bottles, plastic packet, tattered condom packets, cigarette packets etc. are strewn all around at the backyard of the Mahal. Due to the presence of thorny bushes it is almost impossible to enter backside of the building. The state archaeological department has recently renovated the front portion a little bit few years back.
The fort was built for the queen of Farrukh Shah. The queen used to visit the Baoli for taking bath and she used to come from Sheesh Mahal through a tunnel. The officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) refuse to affirm that the tunnel connecting Sheesh Mahal and Baoli ever existed. It is now completely closed and abandoned. The tunnel has been closed with walls. It opened on to a large courtyard with water channel in the centre.
The Mahal was built in such a way that no enemy could enter inside the Mahal. There were special outlets at the underground section for passages of fresh air. Villagers say there was another three-kilometer long tunnel connecting Khurrampur village with Sheesh Mahal.
“Once Khurrampur was one of the most populated and prosperous areas of Farrukh Nagar. Now there are only families. But this tunnel is no longer traceable,” says Ajit Singh, a resident of Farrukh Nagar.
Though a protected monument under the Archaeology Department of Haryana, the Sheesh Mahal is nevertheless in a state of mess. “We have written many a time to the state government to hand it over to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) but ironically there was no correspondence from the side of State government,” says Bhanu Pratap, the officer in charge of Ali Gosh Khan Baoli (Stepwell), which is few hundred metres away from Sheesh Mahal - a monument of national importance restored by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Look Back to History
The State of Farrukh Nagar was founded by Faujdar Khan, its first Nawab and a governor of Mughal Emperor (1713-1719) Farrukhsiyar in 1732. Faujdar christened himself the Nawab of Farrukh Nagar and named the town after the Mughal emperor as a mark of gratitude. The town of Farrukh Nagar flourished for two hundred years on the strength of the salt trade which is now totally defunct.
“At that time it had population of more than fifty thousand and it was basically a Muslim-dominated locality. At present, the population of town is around fifteen thousand. During the Partition, all the Muslim population migrated to Pakistan and Hindus from Pakistan settled here,” says Sohan Lal Sain, retired teacher from Government Secondary School.
Salt was one of the major sources of government's revenue. It was extracted from nearby saline wells. This salt was called Sultanpur Salt.
“The whole salt trade was under the dominion of one particular Seth. History is silent about his name. He had 360 wells from where salty water was extracted using bullocks,” says Vinay Kumar Sharma.
Present Sultanpur National Park was the centre of salt production for use in Delhi and its vicinity state, United Provinces till late 19th century. The region produced more than 680,000 maunds or 18,350 tons from these 360 wells, say local residents. The state flourished because of the revenue generated from salt production.
As the British started importing cheap sea salt the slat industry here suffered heavy loss and production went down to 65,000 maunds or 1,750 tons. Finally in 1923, the British shut down salt industry and office of the salt superintendent at Sultanpur, leading to severe economic crisis of people. People lost their jobs. Due to heavy loss, the Seth also left this place without informing anyone, locals told this citizen journalist .
Hero of Freedom Movement
Nawab Ahmad Ali Khan who was descendent of Faujdar Khan took part in the India’s First war of independence in 1857 along with the rulers of neighbouring states Rewari, Ballabhgarh, and Jhajjar. The British hanged all the rulers of this state and confiscated their property. He had an adopted son name Kallu. The British Government used to oppress him and he eventually left for Nizam of Hyderabad. There is no written record about him.
“Though people recognise Ahmad Shah as state hero and remember his sacrifice but unfortunately there is no memorial or signage of Ahmad Ali today in whole Farrukh Nagar,” grumbles Jagrup Singh from Khurrampur khera.
Jama Masjid has been preserved a little bit. At least a gate is erected and boundary walls are put in the surrounding areas by devotees. Deities of Sri Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman have been installed and people regularly come here for worshiping. But all the three tombs are decaying and the walls need urgent renovation, otherwise it will collapse at any time.
Dilli Darwaza (Dilli Gate)
Dilli Darwaza or the Delhi Gate is one of the five entrances of the town and opens towards Delhi. It is an important attraction of the Farrukh Nagar Fort. The gate is in ruins and needs urgent repairing. It has come to know from a definite source that from MP’s local area development fund more than nine lakhs rupees have been granted. But repaired walls are again damaging, the material used for repairing is very low in quality.
“We suspect foul play by the contactor and BDO of this area, only ten percent money has been used here, rest of it has gone into the pockets of the contactors and government officials,” alleges Satpal Yadav, a resident.
Sethani ki Chhatri
Lying unattended few yards away from Baoli, Sethani Ki Chhatri is now in utter neglect. The structure is surrounded with wild weeds and encroached upon from all sides by people who built their houses.
This memorial was built by famous salt trader in memory of his mother. Now the place wears a deserted look. Wine bottle, Cigarate packets are strewn all over the place. Encroachers have erected their house just near the Chhatri. “I still remember the place was surrounded by gardens and we used to play here thirty years back,” says Desraj Yadav, another resident.
The walls are finished with lime plaster and polished to give a marble like finish. There are eight arched openings on each floor and floral decorative motifs are used decoratively. In typical Mughal style, the colourful paintings depicting the life of Lord Krishna is really mesmerising. The Stones and bricks works are decaying. But the mesmerising paintings and art work are still looking fresh, but there is no effort from the government to preserve them.
Baoli Ghaus Ali Shah
The octagonal baoli is a Mughal era monument built around 1730s. The four-storey Baoli Ghaus Ali Shah as renamed by the ASI looks like an ordinary structure from outside as only a small circular wall is visible but the grandeur of the place built nearly 300 years is revealed once you enter inside.
This Baoli can be reached by descending several steps. The central well at the bottom step was also dry and unfortunately also littered with rubbish, though the remaining part of the baoli was clean. Contrary to the dilapidated condition of Sheesh Mahal, Baoli is quite well maintained, at least, and work done by the ASI needs to be appreciated.
“Visitors can enter the baoli via a tunnel above which lies at the Jhajjar Gate where the vehicular traffic to and from Jhajjar passes posing a grave threat to the baoli as well as the gate. The vehicles going over the tunnel have eroded the Jhajjar gate enormously. This route should be shifted from here so that Baoli can be protected,” demands Sohan Lal Sain
Sethani ki Mahal
Local elderly people say Sethani Ki Mahal was located near the present Goshala. There were cases regarding ownership of the Mahal.