In a nutshell : A 180 km, 3 hour (each side) drive from gurgaon, to Narnaul , haryana, a place that has both mythology & history attached to it.
1. Mention in Mythology
2. Brief History
3. How we reached Narnaul – the roads
4. Current state of the historical monuments
5. Places to eat
Mention in Mythology – in epic Mahabharata, the area around Narnaul is referred to as nara rashtra & pandav brother Sahadev gained control over this town.
Brief History –
• Rajputs of Rathor family used to rule this place about a thousand years back. Not much written facts have been found about them.
• In CE 1137 (Islamic rule in delhi started 1192), a Muslim saint warrior Hazrat Turkman, came to Narnaul, fought many battles with the Rathods & was killed in battle.
• When delhi was ruled by the Lodis, the city of Narnaul was a residency of a commissioner to the delhi ruler. Ibrahim khan, grandfather of sher shah suri (who commissioned the Grand Trunk Road from today’s bangladesh to Afghanistan, started rupaiya etc), held the position of commissioner of Narnaul.
• During Akbar’s time Narnaul was a flourishing township & had a Taksal (mint). The famous Jalali coin (square shaped) was issued from here during Akbar’s reign.
• Nawab shah quli khan was appointed governor of Narnaul.
• Jal mahal – standing in the middle of a large water body was built as a pleasure house by shah quli khan.
• Marathas ruled Narnaul for some time till it went on to be a part of British india & eventually india.
• The Battle of Narnaul (also called Battle of Nasibpur) was fought on 16 November 1857, between the British & the Indian rebels, led by Pran Sukh Yadav, Rao Tula Ram (chieftain of Rewari) and Kushal Singh of Auwa. They put up a major offensive against the British initially but later had to retreat. Rao Tula Ram escaped to Kabul where he lived for another decade.
How we reached Narnaul – the roads
While Google maps can show you the route, it will not give you nuances about the journey:) so here it is-
We started from gurugram on NH 48 (that goes till mumbai from delhi). The traffic was as bad as always due to many overloaded trucks of different shapes & sizes at different levels of low speed were at different lanes at different pints in time, often forcing cars to overtake from the extreme left. We travelled on poorvanchal expressway, delhi lucknow expressway earlier this month – if quality of drive on those expressways are 9/10, NH48 driving experience was 3/10.
Long after we crossed Bhiwadi on NH48, we took the delhi Rewari road. It was an old highway with 2×2 lanes, no animal barriers but almost negligible truck traffic. There were occasional cars, buses & two wheelers & it was a rather nice drive.
There were mountains on both sides. The scenery was very nice often.
We touched the outer limits of Rewari city & after that the highway became excellent- new, smooth, cattle barriers & low traffic. Few places flyovers are being made & of course there were diversions.
Within Narnaul city it was normal sized roads without a divider.
In some places, to reach the historical monuments we had to take some really narrow roads in the city. That needed some good driving skills & a lot of patience.
Current state of the historical monuments
Hazrat Turkman’s tomb – We went to see his tomb & a mosque built centuries after Hazrat Turkmen lived. Part of the structure had broken off. The structure was made of brick & there was a smooth plaster coat.
Some pillars were made of marble.
The tomb was being treated by the people of the locality as a sacred place & was maintained very well. People offered ‘chadar’ on the main tomb. We heard people come from far away as well.
Next to Hazrat turkman’s tomb was ibrahim khan’s tomb, commissioned by the emperor sher shah suri. We had been to sher shah’s tomb earlier this month in Sasaram, Bihar & that’s when we planned a visit to Narnaul.
Narnaul is where sher shah is believed to have grown up & spent many years of his life.
Houses have been built all around Ibrahim khan’s tomb & one has to reach here thru narrow roads…… & then this beautiful monument unfolds itself.
The monument is very well maintained.
We saw shah quli khan’s mausoleum in the middle of an agricultural field (the monument has no approach road for either cars or pedestrians, yet it is very well maintained by the agencies of the government).
We saw another centuries old tomb in the middle of the agricultural land that was now being used as a place to stack cow dung.
Jal mahal was built as a pleasure house by shah quli khan. It was situated in the middle of a huge water tank. We did not see any water in the tank but just grass.
Once again, the monument was very well maintained. The 400 year paintings on the ceiling are still intact. The security guard here was being a pest – he was probably seeking entertainment to beat his boredom. So he came to tell us that ‘you can be in the monument for only 10 minutes’ which is not as per any ASI / state government heritage board rules. He had probably invented it himself or someone higher up instructed him to do this for some silly reason.
Must also mention that while the monuments are more or less well maintained, the write-ups on metal panels about the monument had the following challenges:
1. In some cases it was written only in Hindi
2. Very poorly maintained. Most metal plates had rust on them & parts of the write ups were illegible.
We also spent some time walking around the old city.
We saw a centuries old bawri (step well) whose water was not clean but the structure stood well. The covered water tank with Bengal style chhattris was beautiful.
We saw many buildings in which people stay – 100-150 years old.
A school building from the 1857 sepoy revolt era had now been converted to a cattle shed.
Another person had built a house gobbling up part of a centuries old gateway!!!
It was so nice to speak to people who stayed in the area. Everyone whom we spoke to, was very warm & told us, strangers, as much as they knew.
We are amused at the names of two chicken shops – आँसू (tears) chicken shop & gandhi (a devout vegetarian) chicken shop.
Places to eat in Narnaul
A day before reaching Narnaul we looked up Zomato & found a list of many sweet shops in Narnaul, who sell sweets & vegetarian savoury food. There were few fancy named ‘Chinese’ & other cuisine restaurants as well. None in the list sounded promising.
We were however super lucky to have stumbled upon Ram Singh samose wala’s shop that has been around since 1958!!! The third generation of the family is running the shop.
We are right in time for the samosas – they had just started frying them. The samosas were super crisp, low on salt, had a very tasty aloo filling & was served with a dry & a wet Chutney. The reason it is made low on salt is that it is suggested to be eaten with the Chutney.
The Chutney was uniquely flavoured & had a nice sour tinge. They said this was due to a seed that they get from the mountains. Loved the samosas. Rate them 4.5/5
They also had Kala jamun & gulab jamun on display.
Both were really very good & better than 95% of gulab jamuns & kala jamuns in delhi NCR. The balance of not so sweet ‘sweetness’ & the hint of salt made the magic. Rate gulab jamun 4.5/5 & kala jamun 4.25/5
Overall rating of food at Ram Singh samose wala’s averages out to 4.4/5. I will definitely look forward to eating there again.
Loved the trip. Look forward to going back again to explore more places in Narnaul & also in Rewari.