Historical Fort : Chingus Sarai, Rajouri - watsupptoday.com
Historical Fort : Chingus Sarai, Rajouri
Posted 21 Feb 2017 05:39 PM

Jammu and Kashmir is a land of rich heritage, culture, monuments and tales. And for this the state makes a hotspot for holidays and vacations. Situated in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, Chingus Fort or Chingus Sarai, is one of the oldest fort that dates back to 16th century. Built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir, this fort is also called one night fort as Mughals used it every year to stay for a single night while on their way to Kashmir. While poorly maintained, this fort offers a panoramic view of the valley and it lies on the banks of Tawi River. Chingus is a small yet historical village and Chingus Sarai is located about 2,000 feet above sea level on a nallah.

- Historic Factor
As with all ancient monuments, Chingus Fort also carries an interesting tale. The word ‘Chingus’ is a Persian term that signifies intestines. Inside the fort rests one of the two graves of Mughal Emperor Jehangir, who died while on his way to Kashmir in 1627 AD. It is said that in order to avoid war and make way for safe passage to Delhi, his Queen Noor Jahan decided to bury Jehangir’s intestine and other abdominal parts inside the premises of the sarai. His other grave lies in Lahore, Pakistan.

Chingus Sarai is one of the most important Mughal Monuments on old Mughal road constructed by an Iranian engineer Ali Mardan Khan on the orders of emperor Jahangir in between 1605to 1621 AD. This Sarai was the fifth halting station for the royal carvans on Mughal road which was 170 miles long from Gujrat (Now in Pakistan) to Srinagar and divided into 14 halting stations. The monument is surrounded by natural atmosphere located on the right bank of Sukhtao river in between Nowshera and Rajouri which is about 131 KM away from winter capital Jammu and 255 km from summer capital Srinagar via Mughal road. C.E. Bat who visited this sarai in 1867 AD writes in his book ‘The Gazetteer of Kashmir’ that Chingus Sarai complex is constructed on a flat table land about two hundred feet above Sukh Tao river. The Sarai is Located at 2000 feet above the sea level. The whole village is known as Chingus and famous for this Mughal monument. Apart from this the village is also known for a prominent Hindu Bawali, ancient stone sculptures with figures of snakes and small lingams under Pipal trees.

The sarai complex is surrounded by thick pine forests, scattered Pacca houses The original name of the village was Khanpur which was established by Jaral Rajas of Rajouri. However, after the burial of entrails of emperor Jahangir in the Sarai the name of the Sarai and village was changed to Chingus Sarai. Chingus is a Persian word for entrails.

The overlooking view of snowy peaks of Pir Panchal range is marvelous from this station. There is a tourist cafeteria, small dhabas, tea stalls and tourist guest houses for the convenience of tourists. During summer season there remain great hustle bustle at this spot. From 2012 onward, with opening of Mughal road, the passengers and tourists start avoiding the journey from Srinagar to Jammu via national Highway due to rush and on the road and prefer to travel from Srinagar to Jammu and vice versa via Mughal road instead of Jammu – Srinagar Highway.

The Mughal Sarai Chingus is about 300 years old monument which had remained center of hustle bustle of royal carvans during Mughal period from 1586 to 1751 AD. With the downfall of Mughals in Kashmir, the renowned Mughal road and monuments constructed at each halting station also got severe setback and no attention was paid towards the maintenance of these monuments for centuries together. R. C. Kak writes in ‘The Antiques of Rajouri and Bhimber’ that Mughal Sarai Chinguswas in dilapidated condition in 19th century AD. It was only in 1997 when the local MLA and the then forest Minister Mohd Sharif Tariq had taken a bold decision for the restoration of old glamorous and glorious Mughal monuments. Initially he got the restoration work started through his Community Development Funds. Later on, he prevailed upon archives department and got the whole Sarai complex restored in its original shape up to 1999.

Mughal sarai Chingus is a spacious inn with a mosque, the burial place of the entrails of Jahangir, 44 small Hujras (Residential Cells) and three Dalaans. The outer walls are covered with coat of lime plaster, the surface of which is divided into large shallow rectangular panels and arches. It is believed that the Hujras located on the southern side were used by the family members of Emperor Jahangir and other Mughal Kings while going to Kashmir or returning from Srinagar. There is a Dalaan near the southern Hujras which was used by queens and their female attendants. In the middle of north wall there is another Dalaan believed to be used by the emperor. In the Centre of the Sarai, there is a mosque which was constructed later on and renovated during 1997. In the last edge of mosque premises there is a burial place of entrails of EmperorJahangir.

The main gate (Deodi) large in size is located on the western side. This main gate was used by Darbaries and royal caravans. There are two other entrances also in the Sarai towards the northern and southern sides. The northern entrance was used for the movement of royal families towards Sukh Tao River. The southern gate is opened towards the renowned Bawali. There was no encamping ground near the Sarai for royal carvan. It is believed that only personal families of Mughal kings halted in this Sarai while the Mughal carvan encamped on the opposite side of Rajouri River where there was a plain area which is now converted into agricultural fields.

As per Iqbal NamaAkbri, Emperor Jahangir visited Kashmir 13 times, Akbar two times and Shahjahan and Aurangzeb once. Jahangir visited 11 times via Mughal road in between 1605 to 1627 AD and stayed in the Sarai for few days during each journey. In 1927 emperor Jahangir while returning from Kashmir fell seriously ill at Behramgala in Poonch area. He was advised by Physicians for complete rest of few days.

Therefore, the royal caravan halted at Bharmgala. During this period the king started recovering. One day he decided for a hunting trip. He came out from his camp along with Queen Noor Jahan, sat on a terrace near NooriChambwater fall and started waiting for a dear to hunt. At that time an attendant was trying hard to bring a dear in front of the king on the opposite hill so that he could shoot him. When the attendant reached on a dangerous spot exactly on the opposite side of the emperor, he abruptly slipped from a stone, fell in front of the emperor and died on the spot. His mother who was present there started crying and weeping badly on the death of her son. This was very shocking scene for the king and affected adversely his health and his condition became critical. Therefore, Queen Noor Jahan immediately decided to rush towards Lahore.

However, Emperor Jahangir passed away at next halting station Rajouri.In order to avoid possible confrontation of succession among the princes, Noor Jahan kept the fact a secret from the people and the carvan and to avoid decomposition of the body the entrails were buried at Chingus Sarai while the rest part of the body was taken to Lahore where it was buried at Shahadara Lahore. After the burial of entrails this Sarai came to be known as Mughal SaraiChungus.

- Architecture and Legacy
Built in Mughal architectural style, Chingus Fort holds two apartments. Well planned, this fort comprises a residential complex and an open yard. There are separate passages to enter both apartments. However, from inside, both of them are connected. The residential complex within Chingus Fort is surrounded by walled enclosure. There are arched cells that open towards the courtyard.
There’s a central chamber at the entrance in the western wall with arched roof and a small guard's room on either side. On the outside, there are shops on both the sides. The fort is constructed of rubbles, large pebbles and lakhauri bricks in lime surkhi mortar.

- Destruction Due to Low Maintenance
However, today, this fort rests in an untidy condition with broken walls and heaps of garbage all around and therefore is not much of a tourist spot. Because the fort is not well maintained, a cell on its northern side has collapsed.

- How to Reach
The only way to reach Rajouri is via road through NH-1. Rajouri is situated at a distance of around 154 km from Jammu. The nearest airport is at Jammu, which operates regular flights from major Indian cities. Regular bus and taxi services operate from Jammu to Rajouri at regular intervals all through the day. Chingus Fort is around 35 kilometers away from Rajouri.
The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi railway station that’s well connected with cities such as New Delhi, Goa, Chennai, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Jalandhar, Bhopal, Agra and Nagpur.

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