Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence

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Farruknagar- The inevitable response should one mention about places is, “where is it?” Well, it is a village in the district of Haryana, just ahead of Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. I read about it on the internet, and the New year’s eve decided to visit it. Faujdar Khan, in 1732, established Faruknagar. The first Nawab of Farrukhnagar was also the governor of the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar. And it flourished due to its salt trade until the late 19th Century. But the town was abandoned in the early 20th Century during the British Raj. Though I had never heard of it, I decided to give it a try & explore the town.

Old mouments in Farruknagar

Farruknagar is about 30 km from Gurgaon, a 45min drive. Hence on the cold winter morning of New Year’s eve, we drove towards Farruknagar. The sun shone at its best—the roads were covered with a thin mist layer with golden mustard fields on both sides. We drove towards a town of ruined monuments, with stories left unsaid; I crossed a few water bodies too. Also, looking at the vast horizon, I can see a few old monuments here and there, mainly through the domes standing out and staring at me.

History in mid of Field

Following google maps, we finally reached Farruknagar. And narrow lanes bustling with chatter. And only three monuments mark the history of this place, a Chhatri, more or less at the entrance of the town. A Gol Baoli or Bauri opposite the Chhatri. And a Sheesh Mahal. Gol Baoli is the only maintained monument restored by ASI and was clean. Lately, they have started keeping the Sheesh Mahal too. And there still needs to be someone to look after the Chhatri. 

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Part of Sheesh Mahal

Faujdar Khan, a nobleman from Balochistan, ruled in the early 18th Century. He was part of the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar and later Muhammad Shah Rangeela’s court. As the governor of Farrukhnagar, named after Emperor Farrukhsiyar, he was a mighty man in the area. He built the fort surrounding the octagonal town, which has five entrances. His palace, known as Sheesh Mahal, was a notable structure in Mughal architecture. And around 1761, also the Jama Masjid and Dilli Darwaza (Delhi Gate). The successive Nawabs ruled for over 70 years until the Jat ruler of Bharatpur overtook the place.

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Sheesh Mahal

I had mentioned the Old City had five gates. Of these, two survive. One is Jhajjari Darwaza, the road through it leading towards the town of Jhajjar. But the condition is worn; it needs restoration.

Jhajjari Darwaza

A short walkway is the Sethani Ki Chhatri-  an abandoned monument with a double-storeyed structure with arched doorways. A memorial built in memory of a wealthy merchant’s wife. Though there were stairs to go up, the place was so dirty that it was impossible to take the steps. Here and there, the paintings chitter out on the light yellow background. An inscription within the ceiling frescoes dates to 1861 AD. The inner chamber is open, and there is nothing visible inside. Some fire may have taken place in the monument at some point, as it carries a burnt look.

Sethani Ki Chhatri

I walked back to the Jhajjari Darwaza, and a short flight of steps took me to a magnificent octagonal 300-year-old stepwell sunk into the earth. But the door was locked & the caretaker was not to be seen. My driver & mom had to get hold of a few localities to find the caretaker. The town was friendly, and I found the locals extremely hospitable. They finally caught hold of the caretaker, who took us around the Stepwell.

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
300 years old Baoli

Ghaus Ali Khan Baoli is an octagonal shape on the inside and round shape from the outside. Interestingly the shape, grandeur, and concealed location- as the entrance to this is through a tunnel below the state highway add to its uniqueness. It was built by a local chieftain during Emperor Farrukhsiyar’s rule. And resembles an elegant Turkish hammam made of stone and bricks coated in lime plaster. 

The monument was taken over and restored by ASI in the mid-nineties. And the restoration work could be seen on pillared verandas with scalloped arches on all eight sides. I walked to the top floor of the Baoli to see the panoramic view of the town and the fields. However, the Baoli is connected with the Sheesh Mahal, though the passage has been closed now. The Baoli has become an oasis of peace despite flanking a history on the busy road of Farruknagar.

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Octagonal Baoli

The day’s final destination was Sheesh Mahal; driving through narrow lanes, honking at the cycle riders and even cows or bulls, we managed to survive. But what I saw while driving these narrow lanes was a few colourful, intensively carved and some a combination of both doorways to the old houses. There was diversity in size, shape, colour, and style. 

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Old houses in the city

The Sheesh Mahal, built by Faujdar Khan in 1733 AD, was his residential palace. The palace is a double-storeyed rectangular structure made of red sandstone, Mughal bricks and Jhajjar stone. I could see many arched openings, a wooden roof and a small water channel with fountains. A few hints of paintings can be seen on the palace’s walls.

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Entrance to Sheesh Mahal

There may have been an open pavilion or a Baradari, as the back arches seem to have been closed later. The main pavilion also has double-pillared hooks and was built on a high plinth. It had been covered with mirror pieces. These were placed in the wooden ceiling and on the backside of the wall in its distant past. This gave the palace its name, Sheesh Mahal or Glass Palace. 

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence

A fountain pool provided an artificial water channel in front of the palace. Sheesh, Mahal was connected by a tunnel to the Baoli. Along the boundary wall of the castle are rooms on two stories. And the walls carry a typical yellow colour of the region. 

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
The wooden ceiling that used to have mirrors engraved

The palace was a part of a fort whose bastions and walls can be seen when I walk in the town’s streets—made all the more poignant by the Jats and British’s structural additions, only to be finally overrun by time.

Farruknagar: Is an evocative of an era of opulence
Ruins of the Mahal

This old town has the ancient world charms of Havelis and a grand palace. The place was evocative of an era of opulence. I suggest a half-day tour to Farruknagar; if you wish, add the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary to complete the trip.


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