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Mughal Sarai at Doraha, Ludhiana

Time has taken off the ostentatious exuberance and esteemed magnificence of the Mughal Sarai of Doraha. Still much could have been preserved and another retained but for the indifferent attitude of the government, which has proved to be more devastating than the onslaught of time that the Mughal Sarai had to suffer.

Sarai

Mughal Sarai, built by Sher Shah Suri in 17th century A.D, was a much sought-after place for fatigued travellers during Mughal rule . The respite offered by the sarai was unmatchable. But today, for a few inquisitive Ph.D. research scholars and several Muslim devotees, the sarai carries little significance for the dwellers around. On a casual visit to the place, one finds a small group of people playing cards, a fatigued worker resting under the shade of a tree or a gardner working.

The Sarai is approximately 168 m. square enclosure of battlement walls with octagonal bastion at each corner. There are imposing gateways in the centre on northern and southern sides. The northern gate has only remains of floral designs while the southern gate has flora and fauna paintings. Both gates are connected with a kachha pathway. The northern and southern sides of the sarai has 20 rooms each whereas eastern and western sides has 30 rooms each with a suite of three rooms in the centre. On the north-east corner of the sarai, there are some rooms which might have been a ‘Hammam.’ One can enter this Hammam, through a barrel- vaulted corridor. Many rooms have ceilings specially designed for light and ventilation. The walls and ceilings of these rooms were richly painted with designs executed in bright colours, the traces of which are still visibly.

Each corner of the sarai comprises a central room. All the rooms as well as galleries, are provided with slanting ventilators. On the western half of the sarai, now in utter ruins, is a mosque mounted with a dome. The front view of the mosque was richly painted, the traces of which still survive. There is also a single storeyed structure adjoining the wall of the mosque, now in ruins, probably meant for mullah’s residence. The big compound is being maintained as lawns by the department of archaeology. The sarai is protected under the Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments archaeological sites and remains Act, 1964.

The very entrance of the sarai holds a defaced notice board that itself defies the instructions being put on it. It warns a penalty of Rs 5,000 or 3 years of rigorous imprisonment to anyone who destroys, removes or impairs any part of the sarai. The inner building is crushing more and more with each passing day. The lack of maintenance and upkeep speaks volumes of government apathy through its failure to allot any budget for the purpose. The paste coming out of the walls, the vanishing wall paintings, the faded carvings on the ceilings are a proof of the ‘neglected’ glory of ancient India.