Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"France honours Chandigarh's M. Mac Sarin with Chevalier de l'ordre National du Merite"- by K.J.S.Chatrath

 "The French remember his b’day:Noted advocate and social activist Mac Sarin is honoured with Chevalier de l'ordre National du Merite, the second highest French award http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/life-style/the-french-remember-his-b-day/162368.html

Felicitations M. Sarin. 

Pssst: I hope someone remembers my birthday too!

. . . . .
May I invite you to visit my websites & blogs?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sad! So very sad! by K.J.S.Chatrath

Source: Livres Hebdo

So very sad!

Thank you for sharing it Monica Bhatia. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

“Two graves and Maharaja Ranjit Singh's samadh in Lahore, Pakistan” by K.J.S.Chatrath


"I was happy to read in the papers last week (i.e. September 2012) that India and Pakistan have decided to liberalize the visa regime between themselves for citizens of their countries. One of the new initiatives appeares to be to  grant Senior Citizens above 65, a visa on arrival.  Touching 70, I welcome this move as I would love to visit Pakistan again to try to locate the house where I was born in Sialkot.

I did visit Lahore and Sialkot a few years back but could not find the house. So I want to try again before I die. The other news item which caught my eye was the visit of our Foreign Minister to the ‘Samadh’ of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore, which I had visited during my visit. These two points brought back the memories of my last visit.

But this piece is only about  the ‘samadh’ of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his grand daughter’s grave  and the grave and tomb of the daughter of one  of  his French Generals, all in Lahore, Pakistan.

A few years back, I read an article  mentioning that one of the French Generals of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, named Jean-Francois Allard had played a substantial part in getting the French ‘Fables’ of La Fontaine illustrated by an Indian painter in Lahore – Imam Baksh Lahori. Incidentally, there was an exhibition of the paintings of Lahori organized by the Alliance Francaise of Chandigarh later. Since I have been working on “The Inscriptions on French Graves in India” for some time, the first thing that came to my mind was to try to know about the place of death and location of Allard’s grave.

So I decided to make a trip to Pakistan, something which I had been wanting to do for a long time to visit my birthplace Sialkot and of course luscious Lahore. After experiencing the usual sights and sounds of Lahore, I set out to find about General Allard’s grave. I could locate two European, nay British cemeteries in different parts of the town, but there was no sign of any French grave, much less of General Allard’s. A helpful shop keeper gave me an invaluable clue – there is a French grave in “Kuri Bagh”, he said. ‘Kuri’ in Panjabi means a little girl/daughter and ‘bagh’ means a garden. So perhaps I was getting closer, I thought. After a few auto rides, I did reach an area where a panwala nodded at my query on the “Kuri Bagh”. It is behind the “Munshi Chambers” he told me and gave a rough direction.

On reaching the place explained, I seemed to have got lost and could find nothing. And I asked yet another shopkeeper for help. He was a fair, tall bearded person with very chiseled features – perhaps in his late twenties and wearing a shining clean kurta-pajama. He promptly noticed the small Indian flag that I had pinned on my shirt, and said ‘Ah so you are from India’ and for the next few minutes asked me questions about India in general and the Hindu system of cremation in particular. He knew about the grave of a French girl which was quite near from where we were chatting. If you can wait for about five minutes, I will take you there, he said helpfully and added that he had to go and fetch his child from the school. In any case you would find it very difficult to locate the place on your own, he added. I gratefully accepted his offer and we talked for another five minutes.

The suddenly he said   ‘Let’s go” and jumped on his motorbike. I was 63 then and not  a mobike buff.  My thoughts also drifted away momentarily to my late father “Sardar Sahib” Gurbux Singh Chatrath, who had studied in Government College Lahore and my grand father had bought him a new ‘Indian Chief’ motor cycle since he did well in his studies. These are the streets where my father used to roar along on his motor bike in 1920’s, I said nostalgically to myself. I quickly came back to present and occupied the back seat of the mobike. The short ride took just about five minutes and he stopped in front of a big arched gate. I could not see any garden. My benefactor showed me the small, almost narrow path leading towards the back of the building where the grave lay. Then suddenly he saw his watch and said, ‘The school time’, bade a quick ‘Khuda Hafiz’ and boomed away on his bike.

And there I was standing in front of a small building at an elevation in which lies quietly the grave of a French girl. Unfortunately, today, there is neither any garden nor even any remnants of a garden. Instead there is a good deal of construction all around. And very few local people know about it as I found out in my search. There are two graves inside the enclosure which has a steel door duly locked.

The tomb of Charlotte Allard. I understand that this structure has since been renovated and given a new look.
This tomb was got built in 1827 by Jean Francois Allard (1785-1839), who was one of the European adventurers employed by Ranjit Singh to train his troops. He married Bannou Pan Dei (1814-1884), daughter of Raja Menga Ram of Chamba and Banni Panje Dei, in March 1826.  Dr. Jean-Marie Lafonte, the reknowned French academician has narrated the story of the life of Banno in an amazing piece of research “Bannou Pan Dei Allard” published in the Journal of Sikh Studies, Volume 2, Amritsar, 1978.  Subsequently Bannou Allard went to St. Tropez, France, along with her husband and children and two female attendants one of them named Darana. (See text & photos of the amazing collection of clothes  belonging to Dei at http://eurindia.pc.unicatt.it/english/download/VG%20-%20General%20Allard%27s%20Textile%20collection.pdf)
This grave is of Jean-Francois Allard and Bannou Allard’s daughter – Marie-Charlotte. It was then located in the garden attached to his house, which came to be called Kuri Bagh since in Punjabi “kuri” means girl or daughter. The following inscription is on a wall behind the grave:

“Cette tombe a ete construite en 1827 sur l’ordre du
Chevalier General Allard Sahib Bahadur
pour sa fille Marie Charlotte que dieu 
lui aporte sa benediction au paradis”.
The rough English translation of the above would be: “This tomb was constructed in 1827 on the orders of the Chevalier General Allard Sahib Bahadur for his daughter Marie-Charlotte whom God took in his charge in the paradise.”


There is also an inscription in Urdu on the top of the main entrance to the structure housing the tomb.
It is said that on his death, Allard’s body, was brought with full ceremony from Peshawar, where he died, with salutes being fired at every principal station through which the cortege passed on its route. On arrival at Lahore, the three mile stretch from Shahdara to Anarkali was lined with troops who fired guns during the movement of the cortege to the burial spot. Allard also lies buried in the same enclosure.

  Allard (seated) & his family – copy of a contemporary painting (Source: internet)
Above is the copy of a painting showing Allard and his family – wife and five children, sitting in their garden in Anarkali. On either side is a maid in attendance. Since this painting shows only five children, it is safe to presume that Marie-Charlotte is not in this painting as the Allards had seven children, and two of them, including Marie-Charlotte had died in Lahore. I did not succeed in finding about the grave of the second deceased child.

The second interesting tomb that I visited was of Princess Bamba Sofia Jindan Duleep Singh, daughter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Duleep Singh.  He left behind three sons and three daughters from his wife Bamba Muller, whom he married at Alexandria in Egypt on June 7, 1864.  Sofia Bamba was born on September 29, 1869.
Princess Sofia Bamba Sutherland
(Photo source: http://www.info-sikh.com/RRPage2.html)
She married Colonel Sutherland, a known physician and Principal of King Edward Medical College at Lahore (Pakistan).  She suffered from parylsis in 1955 and was bed ridden. She died issueless at   Lahore on March 10, 1957.
Besides the cemetery in which this grave is located, there is another large cemetery in the heart of Lahore waiting to be explored for throwing light on the lives and deaths  of the British in India.



In a highly informative article “The Kohinoor, Duleep Singh and his Descendents” published in The Tribune, June 27, 1999, Gurmukh S. Sandhu gave a detailed family tree of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  Incidentally Maharaja Duleep Singh, was taken away from Lahore on December 21, 1849 to Fatehgarh (U.P) and then to England in May, 1854. He died in Paris (France) on October 22, 1893, and was buried in the church at Elveden on October 29, 1893. Incidentally his second son, Prince Fredrick Victor Duleep Singh too had a “French Connection”. He had held a Commission and served in France during the First World War.


The ‘Samadh’ of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839) overlooks the Fort in Lahore. It was constructed at the spot where he was cremated.

The architecture is mixture of Mughal and Hindu styles. This building was got built in 1848 A.D by Kharak Singh son of Ranjit Singh. Inside the building is an impressive painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

On one of the outer walls of the complex is a panel showing Lord Ganesha.

 Yes, I am very excited at the possibility of making another trip to Lahore, Sialkot and hopefully some more cities."

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

'France wont dine without wine cancels dinner iran'- Incroyable mais vrai by K.J.S.Chatrath