St. John In The Wilderness

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After visiting the Atari-Wagha border daily ceremonial parade, we (Tanveer and me) resumed our journey to Dharamshala. When you move and go around  these places, you never feel that you are away from home.

As I just love street food, I was craving to have a lot  and my dear friend said,  let’s go tiger and we had all kinds of paratha by visiting  a different dhaba (a highway restaurant, serving authentic regional dishes at throwaway prices) and enjoyed  Patiala peg of lassi.

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After a long journey, we reached a wonderful place in the woods and that  was a church folks, standing alone in the wilderness St. John, since 1852  made up  of black stone.

The story of this church is very interesting. This church survived an earthquake in 1905. This very earthquake killed somewhere close to 20000  people and destroying many historic buildings in and around Dharamshala and Kangra area.

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Thankfully St John’s suffered marginally losing only the bell tower and its spire.

St. John in the wilderness church was built for John the Baptist, Located 1.2 km from the main Mcleodganj. It is located  in a very dense forest and the way to the church is very cold and foggy.

If you love walking, this will be a heavenly experience for you! In  the church, there is  an information board which tells the story and  it’s been recently  installed.

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This Church was the main  center of attraction during  the pre-independence era. This was very powerful in the northern region. St. John the wilderness is built using  neo-Gothic architecture, the church is known for its Belgian stained-glass windows donated by Lady Elgin (Mary Louisa Lambton), wife of Lord Elgin.

There is a bell which was cast in 1915 by Mears and Stain bank of England.

Most of the time here in the Church, I spent looking around and taking a  glimpse of the structure. There is a grave there,  lot actually a lot, but a grave caught my attention.

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This was the grave of Lord Elgin or you can say James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin. He was the Viceroy of India (1862–1863) the Governor General of India, apart from Governor General of the Province of Canada and High Commissioner in charge of opening trades with China and Japan.

He became Viceroy of India in 1862, and was the first to use Peterhoff, Shimla as the official residence of the Viceroy. He died in 1863 of a heart attack while crossing a swinging rope and wood bridge over the river Chadly, on the lap between Kullu and Lahul.

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Lord Elgin was so attached with the Deodar grove that surrounded the church that he wished he would rest in peace if he was buried here in the church premises. The place reminded him of Scotland. According to his wish, he was buried in the premises of the St. John’s Church in Dharamshala.

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In the same premises is also the grave of the Lieutenant General of Punjab David Mcleod after whom the place Mcleodganj is named.

It looks like a hidden treasure and it has that element to turn you into a tireless traveller. You just can’t ignore the urge to visit it once that you have heard of it. In my opinion, you should give it a try and visit this beautiful  piece of history, the Church of St John in the Wilderness morphs as a camouflage into the natural surroundings of the Himachal deodar forest. Surviving 150 years of varied weather, intense earthquakes and yet standing tall,  this structure deserves one visit for sure!

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Thanks guys for reading the post! Cheers!!!

I will return soon with another fascinating account of another place of historical importance!

The Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb

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As the name suggest, in my opinion, everyone here knows about Mr. Sheikh Chilli. I used to read his stories in my school days and  somehow  used to connect to these tales!

But  I never know I will get the chance to visit  Sheikh Chilli’s tomb in reality. During  most of the school time, we had  a notion  whether these stores were actually true or just for fun!

So guys, today  at least I learned  that Mr. Sheikh Chilli was real & not just  a character in the stories.

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As you people  know we have internet these days, so we can gather information about anyone in no time.

I will give you a bit of insight  introduction of Sheikh Chilli.

Sufi Saint Abd-Ur-Rahim, also known as Abd-UI-Karim, or Abd-Ur-Razak; popularly known by the name of Sheikh Chilli, was a Qadiriyya Sufi master of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh (A.D. 1650). There is a Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb located in Thanesar, Haryana, India, near Kurukshetra.

Sheikh Chilli, a famous character among children in the subcontinent of India, is notorious for his follies and simplicity. Quality that was attributed to Sheikh Chilli’s character was that he never cared about laws of nature.

He built castles in the air and in his imagination established great businesses, empires, became a prince, married a princes-and in the end of the story, the castle in the air vanished and Sheikh Chilli found him surrounded by the people laughing at him.

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Now let’s come to The Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb! While travelling from Delhi to Dharamshala, we took a stop in Kurukshetra and got to know about this place.   We started our journey in the morning and reached Kurukshetra by afternoon.

In the list to cover, we wanted to visit a museum in Kurukshetra which supposed to have artifact from the old, I mean very old times. We started to enquire about the museum after reaching this place but  could not find a way we  as we were clueless about this museum and so were the locals.

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Locals also never heard of this museum. The some locals suggested visiting Sheikh Chilli’s Tomb. We  had lots of time to kill before moving to our next location, so we thought  to see what Mr. Sheikh had  to offer.

The main tomb belongs to Sufi Abd-Ur-Rahim Abdul-Karim Abd-Ur-Razak, popularly known by the name of Sheikh Chilli. He was Qadiriyya Sufi master of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. There is one more tomb close to the main tomb and one of the members of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was there and he told us that it is his wife’s tomb.

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When we reached this place, and the gates of this tomb was about to  close. It took lot of efforts to get inside the tomb. The person there was very talkative and had a strong knowledge of the tomb.

For some time, we  explored the tomb on  our own and saw examples of  very beautiful Moghul  architectures spread all around this place.

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The grave was deep inside the tomb but had a source of light and very good ventilation system. I was  amazed with the peace it had  in but saw few more graves  adjacent to it. Now  this place has an Archaeological Museum run by Archaeological Survey of India, and is also situated within the complex. The monument was protected and declared as of National importance under section 4 of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958; Vide No. 8516, dated 27-03-1919.

It consists of archaeological finds, like seals and sealing, terracotta figurines, plaques, ornaments, and swords from sites in nearby regions of Kurukshetra and Bhagwanpura. These objects are notably from Kushana (1st -3rd century CE), Gupta period (4th – 6th CE), and from post Gupta period on Vardhana dynasty period (6th -7th CE).

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This complex is protected from all sides and  it’s huge in dimension. The green bed of grasses is all spread in the complex and it gives you a very soothing  feel. I was  surprised as this complex is right in the middle of the city & still maintained and untouched from the hustle & bustle of the city! Do visit this place and enjoy the Tomb with your perspective!.

This is it for now folks, wait for the next story till then,  bye=bye guys! Cheers!!!

(Some inputs with courtesy from Wikipedia)