Saturday, April 17, 1999
A town replete with religious &
THE historic city of Kaithal has a rich past. Its history is replete with religious, cultural and heroic incidents which have had a bearing on Indian history. As per the Hindu mythology, the present Kaithal was once known as Kapisthal (the habitation of the monkeys). In various mythological texts, it is stated that Lord Hanuman, the Vanar king who helped Lord Rama to gain victory over Ravana, was born here. A mound named after Anjani, mother of Lord Hanuman, exists in the town. Panini, the great Sanskrit scholar, in his book Ashtadhayayi mentioned Kaithal as Kapisthal. Varahmihra, a great astrologer of ancient India, in his book Brahama Samhita too mentioned Kaithal as Kapisthal. In recent times, well-known historian Al-beruai in his book Kitab-Ulhind referred to Kaithal as Kavital. It is believed that during the Vedic period, two great habitations, namely Manush and Elaspad, existed here. At present, these habitations are called, Manash and Shergarh.
The town was once considered a stronghold of the Shaivites. Even today there are 108 Shiva temples in Kaithal.
As per mythological texts and folk tales, the present town was set up by King Yudhishthira. In the town, one can find remnants of ancient temples, maqbaras, bawaris, sarovars, gurdwaras and other buildings. In the olden days, the town was surrounded by eight gates. Today these are known as Kothi Gate, Keorak Gate, Mata Gate, Siwan Gate, Dogra Gate, Partap Gate, Chandana Gate and Railway Gate. Chinese historians Hieun Tsang and Fa-hsien visited Kaithal during the reign of King Harshavardhana, which was considered the most glorious period of the town. After Harshavardhana, Kaithal was ruled by various kings, including Chandels, Khiljis, Balochis, Tuglaqs and Afghanis.
Chenghiz Khan, the Mongol invader, and Timur had invaded Kaithal from the Punjab side. Both these invaders were accompanied by a number of educationists. All these people are reported to have made Kaithal their permanent home. Kaithal is also associated with the first woman ruler of India Razia Begum. She was the daughter of Mughal King Altmas. She was reportedly murderded here on November 13, 1240, along with her husband Ikhtyar Din Altumia. The ruins of Razia Begums maqbara exist on the western periphery of the town. Muhammand-Bin-Tughlaq had ruled this area from 1325 to 1351 A.D. People of the area had revolted against his oppressive ways by not paying taxes.
In 1709, the Sikhs annexed Kaithal under the leadership of Banda Bairagi. But in 1710, they were driven away by Farukh Sayr.
Later, Sikh Guru Har Gobind patronised one Bhagtu, the brother of then king Raja Desh Singh, with the title of Bhai. After that the rulers of Kaithal came to be known as Bhais. The Bhais ruled in Kaithal till 1843. During their regime, the literary and cultural activities received a tremendous boost. Kaithal was considered as a prosperous area of the country. French traveller Jackaia Mont had stated that Kaithal had its own Taksal during the regime of Bhais.
Famous poet Bhai Santokh Singh had written his mahakavyas here. He was a poet in the court of Bhai Udai Singh. His writings comprise over one lakh couplets. He had translated Amar Kosh and Atam Puran and written Nanak Parkash in 1823. In Balmiki Ramayana, there is a mention of the glory of Kaithal in the words of Bhai Santokh Singh.
After the death of Bhai Udai Singh on March 14, 1843, the Britishers took steps to merge Kaithal in their territory. When the English invaded Kaithal, the people of the area fought valiantly under the leadership of Tek Singh. But the combined forces of Maharaja Patiala and Commander Grithind of the British army annexed Kaithal. Tek Singh, who was taken into custody, was ultimately banished to Kala Pani. People of Kaithal participated in the First War of Independence in 1857 and stopped paying taxes to the British regime. The British forces under Captain Macknol suppressed the revolt with great difficulty.
Both Kaithal town and the district is dotted with historic temples and dargahs. The dargah of Baba Shah Kamal Kadri situated in Jawahar Park here is a symbol of Hindu-Sikh-Muslim unity. Baba Shah Kamal had come to this city about 425 years ago from Baghdad. On every Thursday, thousands of devotees pay obeisance to the Baba.
The Sheetla Mata Mandir situated on the banks of the Suraj Kund dates to ancient times. Before the Partition the Muslims were the main priests in the temple.
The Kapil Muni Temple in nearby Kalayat town speaks of the architecture of the olden days. It is believed that sage Kapil Muni had written Sankhya Darshan here.
The Gyarah Rudri Temple of Lord Shiva in the town is also famous for its architectural beauty. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna had constructed nine kunds to appease the navgrahas of the Pandavas during the Mahabharata war. King Yudhishthira is believed to have prayed here with Lord Krishna.
A rich past but miserable present
THE town of Kaithal, with a more than one lakh population, presents a neglected and dirty look. It faces a number of problems which have not been seriously tackled by the administration. It is distressing to note that the town, with such a rich heritage and historical past, has not been able to preserve its antiquity and glory. Dirty and unclean drains, choked system of sewers, unlit lanes, narrow roads full of potholes speak their own tale.
A major problem faced by residents is that the drinking water supplied to them is not potable. In certain areas in the old city there is an acute scarcity of drinking water during the summer season. In the HUDA colony, sewers and water lines have not been properly laid. So far the administration has taken no steps to solve the drinking water problems of the people. The problem is becoming more acute as a number of people from rural areas are shifting to the town. Moreover, unplanned growth of the town and haphazard construction of unauthorised colonies, have added to the woes of Kaithal residents.
The choked sewerage and poor drainage of storm water call for a serious thought.
According to Parmanand Goyal, president of the District Saw Mills Association, the sewerage in the town is wrongly planned. There are very few outlets and the sullage overflows from sewers in certain areas. A nullah near Chandana village is full of filth. Besides, it is not connected with any drain. Consequently, it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes during the rainy season and leads to the eruption of malaria in a number of localities in the town. A pond called Widhkyar, near the bus stand, in the olden days stored rain water of the town and its surrounding areas. But over the years, at least one-third portion of the pond has been filled, reducing its capacity to store water.
Another sore point is the encroachments made in different parts of the town. A large amount of area around the old Anaj Mandi, where the cost of land is about Rs 2500/- per yard, has been encroached upon. Encroachments have also been made on area along Jind road, Anaj Mandi road and around Jakholi adda. It is estimated that about 5000 sq yard has been encroached upon in the town. Further more, it is estimated that aboriginal tribes like Sansis and Dehs have encroached upon over 20,000 sq yards of HUDA land. The price of the encroached upon area is about Rs 20,000 per sq yard. These encroachers have constructed shops on the land. Not many people deny that these encroachments have been made with political patronage.
The administration has taken steps to remove encroachments in the old Anaj Mandi area and other parts of the town. But the problem is too gigantic and cannot be solved overnight.
The town faces traffic bottle-necks at a number of places because of its narrow roads. The problem of traffic-jams has mounted because of lack of proper parking lots in the city. The main railway-line crossing in the centre of the city, is the biggest traffic hazard here. The vehicles have to halt for long to cross the railway line. The town needs proper parking lots for easing traffic congestion.
Poor lighting of streets and roads is another problem faced by residents of Kaithal.Residents say that civic body employees do not attend to their complaints.
The functioning of the Telecom Department draws flak as well. Although an 8,000-line exchange is ready, connections have not been given to all applicants as yet. The faults in the telephone system are frequent. About 500 telephones remain out of order in the town daily.
For depositing telephone bills, there is only one office that meets the needs of 8000 telephones subscribers. The complaints regarding postal authorities are no less. The post office started functioning here about 50 years ago when 13 postmen were appointed.While the towns population has increased manifold, the number of postmen employed has remained the same.
Roads in the old town area, particularly in the Amargarh Gamri area, are dilapidated. A stupendous effort is required both on the part of the civic body and the district administration to provide proper civic amenities to this historic city of Puranic age.
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