Manauli Fort A dying slice of history

Wedged in a legal battle between the Punjab Government and descendants of Nawab Kapoor Singh, who are contending the declaration of the fort as a protected monument, the fort has decayed alt beyond restoration.

The grand gate that guarded the entrance of the fort has perished and only two of the four corner towers are still standing. These are, however, fissured and it is just a matter of time before the entire structure becomes a large heap of bricks.

It is among the few forts that is made of bricks and hails from an era when stone was largely used.

The small bricks, known as the Sirhindi brick among the locals, are hanging loose from alt every wall of the fort today telling a depressing tale of splendour lost. The villagers too rue the fact that the fort is dying.

"Had it been maintained, it could have been a tourist attraction. Also considering the fact that it was won by Nawab Kapoor Singh himself from the Mughal kings, it is a picture of the state's historical glory," said Mr Amar Singh, a resident of the village.

The Punjab Archeology Department officials have nothing to say about the fort and why is it being allowed to decay.

"The matter is in the court and a comment at this stage would not be advisable," said Mr K.K. Rishi, a surveyor with the department.

One of the t powerful of the Sikh leaders after the death of Banda Singh Bahadur, Nawab Kapoor Singh had organised the Sikhs first into the 'budha' and the 'taruna' dals and then into the Dal Khalsa.

Other than being a great leader, Nawab Kapoor Singh was considered to be a good warrior.

The last battle he fought was the battle of Sirhind in 1763 when he gained control over an area t of which forms the Ropar district now.

Founder of the Singhpuria misl, Nawab Kapoor Singh died childless and his nephew Khushal Singh succeeded him as the leader of the misl. Sardar Khushal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the misl.

"Khushal Singh was succeeded by his son Budh Singh after whose accession the misl's power began to decline. He divided his territory among his seven sons. Gopal Singh got Manauli. Gopal Singh's son Jai Singh succeeded at Manauli and finally it came into the hands of his son Umrao Singh," related Mr Gurdev Singh of the Archeology Department, Punjab.

"We have heard about Umrao Singh from our parents. He was a generous man who did a lot of good for the village," recalled Mr Amar Singh.

Hundreds of acres of land around the fort was within its boundaries. "At least 400 acre of land was directed controlled by those who controlled the fort. There was a small gurdwara built inside and the largest gate of the fort was known as the hathi khana,"said Mr Amar Singh.

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