History & Culture

Martial Kapurthala

Martial KapurthalaThe former Princely State of Kapurthala, located in the Jalandhar Doab of the Punjab, between the Rivers Sutluj and Beas, is said to have been founded in the early part of the 11th Century, in the time of Sultan Mahmud Ghazni by Rana Kapur, the mythical ancestor of the Ahluwalia Family, and a cadet of the Royal House of Jaisalmer. After the death of Nawab Adina Beg, the Mughal Governor of the Jalandhar Doab, in the middle of the 18th Century, Rai Ibrahim Khan, a petty Rajput chieftain of some local influence, established himself in an independent position in Kapurthala. He was dispossessed in 1780 by Baba Jassa Singh, the recorded founder of the Ahluwalia Misal or Clan, and the ancestor who founded the Ruling Dynasty of Kapurthala. Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, (1784 - 1836) the Ahluwalia Chief, was a contemporary and equal of Sardar Ranjit Singh as the Maharaja was known before his ascendancy to the throne of the Sikh Kingdom in 1801. Both these historical figures were co-signatories to the Treaty of Amritsar in 1806, when the Sikh Chiefs entered into a treaty with the East India Company, to halt the burgeoning Marhatta influence.

The Kapurthala Dynasty and the people of Kapurthala, have a hoary martial tradition, commencing with the military prowess of the legendary Baba Jassa Singh who was also known as "Bandi Chhor" or the "Deliverer from Captivity", after his exploit of rescuing hundreds of young non Muslim girls, being taken as captive slaves by the invading forces of Nadir Shah, and then sending them to their homes duly escorted by his soldiers.

Coming to more modern times, this martial tradition was continued by Major Maharajkumar Amarjit Singh, CIE, MA (Oxon), (1893 - 1941), the third son of the late Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, the maker of modern Kapurthala, who served for over a year with the Indian Troops in France during the Great War of 1914 - 1918, and later became Commandant of the Kapurthala State Forces.

Though one of the smallest Districts in the Punjab, Kapurthala has not been found lacking in its martial traditions. The Kapurthala State Forces participating in the Tirah Campaign in the Khurram Valley of the erstwhile North West Frontier Province of undivided India, earned high praise for gallantry when in 1897, a column of 36 rank and file, under a Junior Commissioned Officer fought to the last man defending their position against marauding tribesmen. A memorial obelisk stands in silent tribute, near the former State Force Cantonment, to this indomitable band of gallant men who preferred death to surrender. A life sized bronze statue, depicting a Kapurthala Infantry soldier of the Great War period, was cast in Paris, and occupies the place of honour in the Memorial. This Memorial is often associated with the memory of the late Captain Jhaggar Singh, who, with 13 Other Ranks, fought a heroic engagement to the last man at Marima in East Africa in 1916.

The Propagation of Dhrupad & Tabla in Punjab

The Propagation of Dhrupad & Tabla in PunjabThe Dhrupad form of singing was popularised by Raja Man Singh Tomer of Gwalior in the middle of the 15th century. This is a very old orthodox style of singing. Punjab played a vital role in propagating the Dhrupad form of singing. Swami Haridas ji, a saint musician and a great Dhrupad singer belonged to Punjab. Swami Haridas lived in the time of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Swamiji initiated the training of music to famous musicians like Baiju, Tansen, Gopal Lal, Madan Raj, Diwakar Pandit, Somnath Pandit and others'

Diwakar Pandit (Suraj Khan) and Sudhakar Pandit (Chand Khan), the disciples of Swami Haridas settled in Punjab and gave birth to four Gharanas of Dhrupad, Talwandi, Shyam Chaurasi, Kapurthala and Haryana. Talwandi Gharana is the oldest Gharana of Dhrupad singers from the time of Akbar.

From the time of Guru Nanak Saheb, Kirtan was sung in Classical Raagaas and the Shabads of the Sikh Gurus were sung in Dhrupad. It is therefore said, that the Sikh Kirtan has played a vital role in the propagation of Dhrupad in Punjab.

Kapurthala Gharana is also famous for Dhrupad singing. The first musician of this Gharana is said to be Sayeen (Sant) Illias.Before sixteeth century Tabla was not a very popular instrument as it was not considered suitable for the accompaniment of Dhrupad and Dhamar, prevent during those days. Later, when Kheyal, Tappa and other light varities of classical music were evolved during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Tabla became popular.

In the Punjab Gharana of Tabla, the 'Khule Bols' of the Pakhawaj is used as 'Band Bols' on Tabla which developed a new style, having all the characteristics of Pakhwaj.

In Punjab itself, we find three different Gharanas of Tabla playing-Punjabi Gharanas or Lahore Gharana, Kasoor Gharana and Amritsar Gharana or Naiyan-da-Gharana.

The sudden passing away of Ustad Allah Rakha has left a void, but his internationally known son Zakir Hussain is a distinguished Touch-bearer of the Punjab Gharana today.

Tradition of Music of Kapurthala

Tradition of Music of KapurthalaIn the history of Indian classical music, Kapurthala emerged as an important Centre for classical music under royal patronage and specially that of Kanwar Bikrama Singh and Raja Sir Daljit Singh. The known tradition began in 1858 when a descendant of Mian Tansen was brought to Kapurthala by Kanwar Bikrama Singh of Kapurthala.

Tradition of Music of KapurthalaUstad Vilayat Khan in an interview to the Times of India of 19th February 2003 said Patiala Gharana has been given a place of prominence to the pointed of exclusion of other gayakies like Kapurthala. People like you don ’t know that there is a Mazar of Mir Nasir Ahmed, the founder of Kapurthala tradition in Kapurthala.

Tradition of Music of KapurthalaPunjab has also given some Raags to Indian classical music, among the most well known are Kasuri Bhairavi, Sindhura, Multani Jaiyaiwanti, Jogiya, Asa Kafi, Pahari, Sorath and Varhans. The oldest Festival of India is the Harvallabh Festival of Music being held in Jallandhar for the 127 years. Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and Bhaskarbua Bakhle spent some years in the Punjab in the pursuit of there taleem. And so evolved a significant tradition which flows on in a never-ending stream.

Fairs and Festivals

Fairs and Festivals of Kapurthala reflect the social, moral, religious and patriotic values of the people. During the Basant Panchami, the Maharaja would ride the elephant caparisoned in yellow regalia and visit the Shalimar Gardens amidst the people all dressed in yellow. Even now, people converge at the river Bein to celebrate Baisakhi.

The Government of Punjab has ushered in a glorious era of cultural renaissance by organizing Heritage Festivals in Kapurthala, Amritsar and Patiala. The Baba Jassa Singh Kapurthala Heritage Festival is held under the aegis of the Kapurthala Heritage Trust, in collaboration with INTACH, (The Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) and supported by Government of Punjab.

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