Glorious Gulyana

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on the elegant remains of a bygone era found in just one village

Glorious Gulyana
The tehsil of Gujar Khan is home to many historic villages and towns. A majority of these settlements still contain Sikh and Hindu monuments.

One such small town is Gulyana which is noted in Gujar Khan for its elegant temples, samadhis and splendid havelis. Gulyana is located about 10 km south of Gujar Khan. In the past, Gulyana was predominately inhabited by Hindus and Sikhs before the 1947 Partition. The old buildings that were erected before the Partition are splendid havelis, fabulous temples and a samadhi.

Defaced paintings

Before 1947 Diwan Prithvi Chand, Tek Chand and Bakhsi Moti Ram were the notable Hindus of the town who controlled the business of the village. Sardar Bali Singh and Tara Singh were also notables of Gulyana who belonged to the Sikh community. The haveli of Bali Singh known as Lal Haveli dominated the landscape of Gulyana. After the 1947 Partition, the people of Dera Bakhshian, a village that lies 5 km west of Gulyana, destroyed the Lal Haveli of Bali Singh.

Today many of the buildings built by the Hindu and Sikh inhabitants still grace the landscape of Gulyana. The Hindu buildings include temples and havelis whereas Sikh monuments include a samadhi, wells and havelis.

The haveli of Tara Singh still stands with its old grandeur. Sardar Tara Singh was a brother of Bali Singh. The haveli of Bali Singh does not exist now. There was also an imposing gurdwara attached to the haveli which does not exist any more.

Radha and Krishna depicted in Gulyana temple

After the 1947 Partition, the people of Dera Bakhshian, a village that lies 5 km west of Gulyana, destroyed the Lal Haveli of Bali Singh

In fact, the haveli of Tara Singh still dominates the landscape of Gulyana, which is noted for its wooden windows and ornately carved doors. The entrance of the havel is decorated with floral designs. Close to this structure is another haveli which is noted for the jharokas and carved wooden doors. Apart from Hindu and Sikh havelis, those of Muslim nobles of the village also dot the landscape of Gulyana. One of the prominent Muslim havelis still extant in Gulyana is noted for fabulously carved wooden doors. Locally this haveli is knowm as Qasr-e-Amir.

There are also two temples in Gulyana which lie 1 km east of the village. Of these, one is larger with a shikhara (superstructure) and it actually is a samadhi, but is locally called a mandir. From inside it is decorated with paintings depicting themes from the Sikh and Hindu belief systems. On the southern wall of the temple is the painting of Baba Guru Nanak with his two companions Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana. The depiction of Baba Guru Nanak with two of his companions was a recurrent theme in Potohari havelis, temples and samadhis. Both Hindus and Sikhs painted this theme in religious as well as secular structures. From the samadhis of Kot Fateh Khan in Attock district to the Khem Singh Bedi haveli in Kallar Syedan, every religious and secular structure depicted Baba Guru Nanak with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana.

Anantashayana Vishnu in Gulyana temple

On the western wall of the Gulyana temple are depictions of Rama and Sita with Hanuman and Laxman. Here, Hanuman is shown paying homage to Rama and Sita. The southern wall depicts the stories of Krishna with gopis and Radha. In one of the panels, Krishna is shown together with Radha. In another, he is depicted sitting on a tree after stealing the clothes of the gopis.  Gopis are shown pleading him to return them clothes. This theme is painted in many temples and samadhis of Potohar. The northern wall depicts Shiva with his consort Parvati. They are shown preparing bhang. It also depicts Anantashayana Vishnu reclining on the Ananta-Shesha (snake) with Lakshmi. Here, Lakshmi is depicted messaging the feet of Vishnu.

On the western and southern sides of the temple are three old wells. Of these two are still used by the people for irrigation.

On the northern side is a small samadhi. It is built on a square plan. It is believed that two Sikh notables were buried inside this samadhi.

Rama with his consort in Gulyana temple

Entrance to Tara Singh haveli

Temple complex at Gulyana

To the west of this temple and samadhi complex is located another Hindu temple. It is built square in plan. The inner sanctum (garbhagriha) is square. And the shikhara (the superstructure) is also square. From inside, it is decorated with depictions of Hindu deities. Krishna Lila decorate the western southern walls of temple. All these paintings have now been defaced. There are some inscriptions in the temple. Floral designs also decorate the interior of the temple. The temple is believed to have been built by Bakhshmi Moti Ram who was grandfather of Tek Chand. As it happens, Tek Chand embraced Islam after Partition. He had three sons, Roshan, Bhera and Shal. They also migrated to India.

At present all the monuments are in a deplorable condition. The concerned authorities should take serious note of the decay of this priceless cultural heritage and promote Gulyana as a potential tourism site. This will bring many socioeconomic benefits to the local community.

The writer is an anthropologist. He may be contacted at Excerpts have been taken from author’s forthcoming book “Reflections on the Potohar Heritage”

The author is an anthropologist. He tweets at: @Kalhorozulfiqar