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Old July 2nd, 2008, 06:06 AM   #1
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RDB Fort/Doraha Sarai - Doraha, Punjab

A fort like structure in Doraha near Ludhiana in Punjab was shown in the Bollywood movie Rang De Basanti. From what I've gathered, it was built during Sher Shah Suri's rule and used to be a sarai - a place where travelers met and exchanged views. Officially it is known as the Doraha Sarai but it is popularly known as the RDB fort amongst tourists and photographers.


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Old July 2nd, 2008, 06:10 AM   #2
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 06:19 AM   #3
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Old July 5th, 2008, 03:52 AM   #4
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Interesting History. Doraha means "where paths cross". Fort is in a real bad shape BTW.
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Old October 15th, 2008, 05:03 PM   #5
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Is this actually a Serai rather than a Fort?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hindustani View Post
Interesting History. Doraha means "where paths cross". Fort is in a real bad shape BTW.
Hello,

Looking at the photos of this building with its rows of individual rooms in along the interior of the walls of this fort, I wonder if this is not a caravanserai.

This is also suggested by the translation of the name you give, "where paths cross".

I believe that although this building is undoubtedly fortified its purpose was to shelter trading caravan's over night, and the vast interior was required for all the camels and cattle used to carry trade.

It's very size suggests that some huge trading caravan's came through this route.

Does anybody know which the two major roads were that crossed here?

Can anybody give me this buildings co-ordinates so that I can find it on Google Earth?

Regards

Nick
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Old October 16th, 2008, 07:14 AM   #6
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Maybe there is some confusion about the site of Rang De Basanti:

Doraha Sarai

http://www.india9.com/i9show/Doraha-Sarai-45070.htm

Doraha Sarai is located at Doraha Village in Ludhiana District.
Built by the Mughal ruler Jahangir, it is a huge rectangular sarai with rooms and verandahs on all sides. Though in a dilapidated condition, its ancient grandeur can still be viewed from the two massive double-storied gateways, which still stands intact. One of the gates is beautifully decorated with blue and yellow glazed tiles. The second gate is different with its façade divided into panels and furnished with carved brickwork. There is also a mosque and a well in the courtyard.

Mughal Sarai At Doraha - the video matches the photos above.



I also read that it is do-raha because of two entrances.

A youtube video shows that Sarai Lashkari Khan is the site of Rang De Basanti. This looks more like the one shown in the movie.

Quote:
Sarai Lashkari Khan is a Mughal era caravan sarai located on N.H.1 near Khanna in Ludhiana district of Punjab. It was the site where many critically important parts of the bollywood blockbuster 'RANG DE BASANTI' were shot.
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Old October 16th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #7
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Google earth (the coordinates are in the lower half) - my guesses

Doraha Sarai



Sarai Lashkari Khan

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Old October 16th, 2008, 04:32 PM   #8
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Impressive Serai's

Hello Suncity,

Thanks for posting those pictures. Whilst I have been to Serai in Iran sadly I have never been to ones in India. You obviously had some very impressive ones too.

Am I correct in assuming that there were similar buildings in India called Choudries before the Muslim's arrived?

Does anybody have pictures of one of those?

Nick
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Old October 16th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #9
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Nick >

I haven't heard of Choudries rest houses in pre Mughal era. Maybe you can google and found out.

Here's another interesting article that I found:

Sarai Amanat Khan: Mughal era caravan sarai

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/...ow/3081141.cms

Quote:
Down the ages, human beings have sought and created some incredible places of residence for themselves. Apart from the regular houses and apartments – both of which are of relatively recent history— humans have resided in caves, on trees and in the absence of anything else, under the open sky.

Given this gene of adaptability, it comes as no surprise to a history lover that a Mughal era caravan sarai should have become home to hundreds of people.

Welcome to Sarai Amanat Khan. Geographically 29 km south-west of Amritsar, it’s a lifetime away if the distance was to be measured in terms of people’s awareness. It is one of a chain of caravan sarais built at regular intervals on the Grand Trunk Road by the Mughals to make the otherwise difficult Lahore-Agra journey an easier one for travellers.

To the Mughal empire builders, road communications were critical. Huge armies might have to be moved to counter an invasion or rebellion at any given moment, vast quantities of goods had to be continuously moved by merchants and the royals were themselves fond of travel.

WRIT LARGE

To facilitate this, a vast road network came up mainly during the reign of Jehangir in first three decades of the 17th century. The blueprint for the Grand Trunk Road, however, had already been created on ground by Sher Shah Sur during his brilliant but brief reign. Jehangir, however, is credited with improving the road, creating the first caravan sarais and building highway distance markers in the form of “kos minars”, the remains of which still dot the countryside in Haryana and Punjab.

In their prime, the caravan sarais must have been a blessing for many a weary traveller. Uniformly square in design and built around a large open courtyard, the sarais had smalls rooms built into their outer wall for people to rest the night in. There was a mosque to pray at as well as food and drink for both the people and their animals. A sort of medieval motel! But Emperors and provincial governors ensured that a strong garrison protected the sarais from brigands.

Sarai Amanat Khan, I learnt, was built when the Mughal economy was booming and the architectural glory of Agra, Delhi and Lahore was unsurpassed in Asia. In fact, the sarai has a direct link with the building which occupies the central position in that architectural pantheon, the Taj Mahal. Amanat Khan was the legendary calligrapher of the Taj! His work – elegant in form and precise in design - still amazes millions at India’s premier heritage site. Yet, history is full of ironies and the sarai is the site of one of the more bitter ones....


SIGN OF THE TIMES

Amanat Khan is the man who beautified India’s most stunning spectacle but, tragically, the sarai which served as a dwelling for him and later became his final resting place has been ravaged beyond repair. The sarai has been encroached upon and is now the home to nearly 400 families, who are obviously unaware or uncaring about its provenance.

During my visit there, conversations with some locals revealed that some families had been settled here for over 150 years and some even longer than that. While it is quite difficult to verify these claims, the first families most probably moved into the garrisoned confines of the sarai for protection during the late 18th century as the Mughal Empire weakened and times became increasingly anarchic.

This pattern of helpless people moving into walled compounds for protection was echoed throughout north India in those troubled years. Families probably continued to move into the sarai throughout the 19th century into the 20th with the final lot of settlers coming in after Partition.

While acting as the refuge for frightened people, the sarai that has suffered. Rooms built for travellers have become houses for people, who have demolished walls and widened the space for their convenience. Windows that would originally have been made of delicately carved stone-lattice work have been defaced with ugly iron grills, arched gateways have been lost to plywood doors and the battlements have been converted into support structures for upper floors of houses.

Amazingly, despite all this, the place retains traces of its former glory. The two gateways of the sarai are still in place. More importantly, they retain their fantastic blue tile-work as well as elegant Islamic calligraphy. Inside the sarai is a mosque, also with its blue tiles intact. Seeing that magnificent remnant of artistic brilliance is what made my journey there worthwhile.

After seeing Sarai Amanat Khan’s fate replicated all over north India, I still cling to one slender thread of hope. If the authorities can convince residents of the importance of the site they are sitting on, the sarai can be incorporated in a chain of heritage sites across Punjab. That would create economic opportunities for the people while preserving the monument for all of us.

There can be no better tribute to Amanat Khan – a man whose signature calligraphy has made India so proud.
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Old October 16th, 2008, 11:32 PM   #10
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Where these all built as a standard size?

Hello Suncity,

Thank you very much for posting the Google Earth pictures, as I would not have found them myself without your help.

These sarai are interesting because they both have very similar dimensions.

Sarai Lashkari Khan measures 164 m in each direction, (as measured on Google Earth,) and Doraha is 170 m in ether direction.

I have no idea what this would translate to in Mogul measurements of the time, but it does argue for some standard being applied.

It is interesting that they are 8.0 km or 5 miles apart. This seems a very short distance. It suggests that these caravans where ether going at a very steady pace, or that there were a great many of them leap frogging each other. I know that East India Company baggage trains reckoned to make between 10 and 14 miles per day, and moving them must have been similarly difficult to moving a large trading caravan.

This suggests that this stretch of the route might have been particularly difficult.

It is interesting to measure back along the main road 8 km in ether direction to see if other Sarai can be seen. When I looked I couldn't find obvious Sarai, but what I could see were two villages with very interesting layouts. The one to the North of Doraha is at 30 degrees 5' 23.23"N 75 d 57' 50.89" E, and the one to the south of Lashkari Khan is at 30 degrees 42' 56.22" N 76d 08' 41.24" E.

Living in Britain, I obviously have a Eurocentric view of town planning and development, but if those two villages were European, they look to have had early walled perimeters, which are preserved in the existing street layout, and they could well be much earlier than the Serai.

At roughly 24 k or 15 miles apart they were probably at the limit of the distance acheiveable with a caravan in a day. The area in between looks like it has been drained in the last hundred years or so. Was it previously a swamp?

I wonder if the Mogul authorities were trying to improve the route, and that these two Sarai were built to aid travellers through a particularly tough bit of the route.

Do you live close enough to these great buildings to know what the ground is like there?

Is there perhaps a Mogul bridge site near Doraha?

The co-ordinates on the bottoms of the pictures from Google Earth posted above are a bit misleading because they appear to be the coodinates at the theoretical observers position, not the buildings.

The actual co-ordinates are Doraha 30 d 47' 52.71"N 76d 01' 19.06" E
Sarai Lashkari Khan 30d 45' 17.67" N 76d 05' 24.78"E

Regards

Nick
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