Pul Moran, a historic bridge that stands the testimony of the love between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and nautch girl Mooran Sarkar, has now become a hot spot for wedding photoshoots : The Tribune India

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Pul Moran, a historic bridge that stands the testimony of the love between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and nautch girl Mooran Sarkar, has now become a hot spot for wedding photoshoots

Pul Moran, a historic bridge that stands the testimony of the love between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and nautch girl Mooran Sarkar, has now become a hot spot for wedding photoshoots


Neha Saini

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s grand ode to the courtesans in Netflix’s Heeramandi has everyone swooning over the ‘gajgamini walk’, the aesthetically brilliant visuals and supremacy of the royal courtesans during the time. At the peak of their prominence, these royal courtesans were known for their artistic brilliance, etiquette and power, which had their royal patrons in a chokehold.

Numerous stories, documented and undocumented, throughout history stand as a testimony to the influence of royal courtesans over the political, cultural and historical landscape of the country.

One such testimonial of a story of love and rise of a woman from being known as a ‘nautch girl’ to a queen is Pul Mooran.

A historical monument situated 35 km outside of Amritsar city and close to the Attari-Wagah border, Pul Mooran was historically known as Pul Kanjri (kanjri was the word used to refer to the dancing community and considered derogatory). Known as the Taj Mahal of Punjab, Pul Mooran was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a bridge on a canal, while crossing the Ravi, and reach the resting place he had built in between the twin cities of Amritsar and Lahore. In popular culture and literature, it’s believed that Maharaja Ranjit Singh built this bridge as a symbol of love he had for Mooran Sarkar.

Story of love

Mooran was a Muslim dancer, hailing from the street dancing community in village Makhanpur, who became a royal courtesan. Once, as she was coming to meet the Maharaja for their rendezvous at the baradari, he had built near the village, she lost her silver slipper in the Hansali canal. Upset, she refused to perform for him that day and that’s when the Maharaja ordered construction of the bridge, now known as Pul Kanjri/Mooran. She won the king’s heart with her beauty and intellect, and was a medium between the common villagers and the royal court. Maharaja Ranjit Singh later married Mooran, despite the opposition from Sikh religious scholars and it remains a historical fact that their marriage was a way to uplift the community of street dancers, who were later rehabilitated in local Hussainpura and Sharifpura localities. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at Mooran’s request, also built a mosque called as Masjid-e-Tawaifan in 1824, which was renamed in 1998 as Mai Mooran Masjid in Lahore.

Conserved and renovated

Its history might have begun with a love story, but Pul Mooran became an important centre for trade in later years of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s regime. Post Partition, the structure was captured by the Pakistani army during the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, but was recaptured by the Indian Army later. The baradari, used as a home stay for Maharaja while travelling from Amritsar to Lahore, has been conserved and renovated with concerted efforts by late Manveen Sandhu, founder of Spring Dale Educational Society and School. The school continues to engage locals as well as visitors in the history behind the hauntingly beautiful monument. The baradari has 12 gates, a vast courtyard, a sarovar, and temple made of Nanakshahi bricks, with beautiful fresco work depicting various Hindu deities on the ceiling and side walls. The courtyard was used for cross-border cultural programmes till a few years ago, which was initiated by Manveen Sandhu who had also written a play, Mooran Sarkar, directed by eminent theatre-person Kewal Dhaliwal and saw a collaboration between artistes from India and Pakistan.

Manveen Sandhu was also instrumental in renaming the place from Pul Kanjri to Pul Mooran, as kanjri is a word in Punjabi used in derogatory context. The place is now maintained by ASI, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board and Springdale.

Today, the historic structure provides a great backdrop for soon-to-be married couples as a popular destination for wedding photoshoots.

#Maharaja Ranjit Singh


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