Phulgran's Heritage Is Part Of Islamabad's Story

Phulgran's Heritage Is Part Of Islamabad's Story
Apart from the watermill, which is called Jandar in the Pothohar region of Pakistan, a 400-year-old haveli is another marvelous structure that is part of the cultural heritage of the village of Phulgran. This haveli is known to the people as Dedhi Rajgan meaning “the mansion or the haveli of Rajas”. In Pothohar as well as Hazara, the Dedhis are very common and can be found in all parts of the region. The Dedhis are owned by wealthy persons having a socio-political standing in society, and they symbolise the status of owner families. Likewise, the haveli at Phulgran is owned by the notables of the Dhund Abbasi family of the village.

The garden and a niche in an old structure (in the foreground) and a port of the haveli (in the background)

Covering an area of more than 40 Kanal, of which the building alone takes up about 20 Kanal, Dedhi Rajgan is a three-storey building, including a basement, ground floor and first floor, with a well inside and gardens on all sides. According to Raja Kawan Shahid, an owner of the haveli, the original structure also had three portions and was entirely built of wood and stones. In the past, the haveli was renovated, rebuilt and enlarged several times by different heirs of the family during their time. Last time, the building was completely renovated thirty years ago, and, usually, after every five years the haveli is renovated as the structures are very old and require constant repairing. One of the interesting features of the architecture of the building is that in the later construction and renovation work the original structure was not removed, however the new constructions were made on the old structures that added to the strength of the building and, at the same, preserved the original architecture.

Inscription showing the names of the heirs to the haveli of Phulgran

About the construction of the haveli, the residents of the village believe that it was built in 1734, and an inscription on the façade of the building that bears the date 1347 AH (1928/29 AD) and mentions the names of the four owners of the haveli in descending order. It goes: Sikander, Mansabdar, Azpeer, Zabardast. On the basis of the inscription, we can suggest that the haveli was first built by Zabardast Khan and was later on occupied by his heirs. There is also another inscription on the wooden door of a room carving an Urdu couplet, the name of poet Inayat Haider and his wife (?) Ruqaya (her second name is illegible) and the date 12 August 1909. Raja Talib, a close relative of haveli’s owners, said that their Peer once stayed in that room. The inscription starts with an Islamic prayer بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم. Following that is the couplet:

عنایت اس بحر فنا میں کشتےء عمر رواں

جس جگہہ پر جا لگی وہی کنارا ہو گیا

Both these inscriptions date to the time of Raja Sikandar Khan. It shows that the present structure of the haveli was built by Raja Sikander, although many of its parts are newly constructed. Raja Sikander was the elder among the five sons of Mansabdar Khan and the names of the other four sons are Zeldar Raja Muharam Ali Khan, Raja Yar Muhammad Khan, Raja Iqbal Khan and Raja Abdul Aziz Khan. Mansabdar Khan was a very prominent Dhund leader and was a Tahsildar and also a Sub-Registrar of Kahuta during the British Raj. It is mentioned in the Gazetteer of the Rawalpindi District 1893-94 that he had “jagirs of Rs. 1080, including the whole of four villages and part of another.”

Like his father, Raja Sikander also had a special position among Dhunds and held the

Underground cells of the haveli

position of a Tahsildar during the British Raj. Raja Adeel, one of the heirs of Raja Sikander Khan, informed that the foundation stone of haveli was laid by Syed Abdul Wahab Shah, who is their family Peer (saint) and his shrine is located in Billot Sharif in the Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Overall, the watermill (Jandar) and haveli (Dedhi Rajgan) of Phulgran, being a part of the rural cultural heritage of Islamabad, show the traditional lifestyle of the people of the area, and these structures are of vital importance in reconstructing the cultural, social, political and economic history of the village – as well as Islamabad itself.