Slice of history from Tarn Taran

Slice of history from Tarn Taran

Delhi DarwaZa (Serai Amanat Khan): The two-storeyed arched gateway facing east has been recently reconstructed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The specimens of calligraphy designed by Amanat Khan can be seen on the front side.

Tracing the footprints of travellers, Tribune correspondent Manmeet Singh Gill & lensman Vishal Kumar travelled on the Sadak-e-Azam, originally built by Sher Shah Suri and later rechristened as Badshahi Sadak by the Mughals. The remnants of the past, though in a shambles, can still be seen alongside the stretch from Serai Amanat Khan to Serai Noordin.

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The roughly 2,600-km long Kabul to Kolkata Sadak-e-Azam built by Sher Shah Suri passed through towns as Serai Amanat Khan (colloquially Saran) in Amritsar and Serai Noordin (Nurdi) in Tarn Taran district.

During Sher Shah Suri’s brief stint at power after defeating Humayun in 1540, the Mughals strengthened the road, which was finally completed during Akbar’s reign. The remnants of the Kos Minars and serais still exist on the stretch, which is presently known as Attari-Tarn Taran Road.

Kos Minar: A completely restored and preserved Kos Minar can be seen half a kilometre on the east of Serai Amanat Khan. Another one, which has not yet vanished, can be seen west of Serai Noordin.

The serais (rest houses) were built during the Mughal period on a distance of roughly 18-20 kilometres and served the purpose of night shelters for traders and officials of the darbar. A Kos Minar (mile stone) was built at roughly 1.8 kilometres each and helped travellers as markers of distance.

These minars were also central to the efficient post-delivery system developed by Sher Shah as each one had a rider ready with a horse for relay of horses to deliver post. While most of these Kos Minars have withered, a few have survived the onslaught of time.

Standing the test of time: The facade of the surviving wooden balcony of the Serai Amanat Khan. However, its design and style seems to have been built in the British period or even later.

Of the two serais, Serai Amanat Khan has been under renovation by the Archaeological Survey of India for decades now. Of the Serai Noordin, only a dilapildated gateway and a tomb are remaining.

Deodhi of Serai Noordin: The serai was built on the initiative of a senior revenue official in the Mughal court, Nawab Amirudin, in 1654. It was used by government officials and traders of the time. Amirudin named the serai after his father Noordin. Apart from the tomb, it is the only existing structure of the serai.

Mughal Darwazas: The old wooden gate for the quarters of the officials at the Serai Amanat Khan. A similar design had been used for all gates but only a few have survived to date.

Stables: A portion of the stables for the horses has also been reconstructed.
In ruins: While the Archaeological Survey of India has managed restructuring the two-storeyed gateways with arched entrances, portions of cells for travellers, the masjid, the central verge connecting two entrances and a few other areas, most of the building is still in ruins.
Noordin’s tomb: The octagonal tomb of Noordin can be seen on west of the serai. The murals inside walls and on the roof have already been washed. The two-storeyed building is in a shambles.
Amanat Khan’s tomb: To the west of the serai is the double-storeyed tomb built by Amanat Khan. He is believed to have been buried here.
Watch tower: A view of the watch tower over the Delhi Darwaza, the only accessible darwaza.
Lahore Darwaza: Facing west towards Lahore, the reconstruction work on it by the Archaeological Survey of India is still going on.
Calligraphy: A specimen of Shirazi’s calligraphy inside the masjid.
Murals (inside masjid): A view of the murals which have now faded inside the renovated masjid in the Serai Amanat Khan.

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