Sri Muktsar Sahib
|Sri Muktsar Sahib|
The main Gurudwara in Muktsar
|• Body||Municipal council of Sri Muktsar Sahib|
|• Total||12.66 sq mi (32.80 km2)|
|Elevation||648.52 ft (197.67 m)|
|• Rank||14th largest city in Punjab|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (Indian Standard Time)|
|Landline telephone area code||01633|
|Vehicle registration||PB 30|
Sri Muktsar Sahib (/ʃriː ˈmʊktsər saːhɪb/) (often referred to as Muktsar (/ˈmʊktsər/)) is a city and district headquarters for the district of Sri Muktsar Sahib, located in Punjab, India. The 2011 Census of India put the total population of Sri Muktsar Sahib municipality to 117,085, making it the 14th largest city of Punjab, in terms of population. Historically known as Khidrana or Khidrane di dhab, the city was made the district headquarters in 1995. Chronological evidence indicates that the city was named Muktsar after the battle of Muktsar in 1705. The government officially changed the name of the city to Sri Muktsar Sahib in 2012, though the city is still primarily referred to by its unofficial name – Muktsar.
The modern day Muktsar city was historically a semi-desert terrain named Khidrana or Khidrane de dhab, situated near a lake. Not much is known about the early history of the present area of the city. This may partly be due to the river Sutlej. The Sutlej is notorious for shifting its course, and it is stated to have flowed as far east as Muktsar within historical times. While shifting its course it is said to have leveled down everything that came its way, leaving behind ruins and mounds of earth and pottery debris. The present area of Muktsar is almost entirely destitute of ancient buildings and contains no places mentioned in early records. Legends connected with Raja Sálbán attach to one or two other ruined sites near Muktsar such as that at Sarai Naga, 10 miles (16 km) to the east of Muktsar. But the city does not date from an earlier period than the reign of Akbar.
The territory of which Muktsar now forms a part of was formerly ruled by the Paramara Rajputs who held it for a considerable period. Jiwa moved to the neighborhood of Muktsar where his descendants held a group of villages, and his grandson Abdulla Khan became the zaildar of Muktsar.
About the time of the first Muslim conquests of India, a colony of Bhati Rajputs, of whose stock the tribes of Manj, Naipal and Dogra Rajputs are branches, came from Jaisalmer under a leader, called Rai Hel, and settled to the south of the present town of Muktsar. They overcame the local Paramara chief and firmly established themselves. Burar had two sons, Paur and Dhul, the younger of whom held almost the whole of the region of Muktsar.
During the decay of the Delhi Empire, the country, which had apparently become almost depopulated, was occupied by the Dogras, a clan of Rajput origin, who are still prominent among the occupants of Muktsar.
The rulers, who were Islamic and called themselves converted descendants of the Chauhans of Delhi, emigrated some years ago to the neighbourhood of Pakpattan; and from thence, two centuries ago, spread for a hundred miles along both banks of the river Sutlej from a few miles above Ferozepur to the borders of Bahawalpur. At one time they were undoubted masters of Mamdot and Khai, as well as of Ferozepor including the present area of Muktsar; their seats were principally in the Khadir of the Sutlej, and their occupations pastoral and predatory.
In March 1504, the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad Dev, was born at Matte-di-Sarai (now called Sarai Naga), about 6 miles from Muktsar. His father Bhai Pheru was a Trehan Khatri merchant, and mother, Ramo, a housewife.
In 1705, after battle of Chamkaur against the Mughals, Guru Gobind Singh started looking out for a suitable place from where he could defend himself. Assisted by an experienced guide of a Brar chief, the guru reached Khidrane Di Dhab where he finally decided to meet the enemy. He then received news that he was being pursued by the imperial troops, at least 10,000 strong, under Wazir Khan, subedar of Sirhind. Earlier, in 1704, when the Guru Gobind Singh's Army in Anandpur Sahib had run out of provisions, 40 Sikhs from Majha deserted him, where they signed a declaration saying they were no longer the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh and he was no longer their guru. Now, those 40 deserters came back to join the guru's forces, realizing their mistake of deserting him, under the motivation of a woman fighter, Mai Bhago. The Sikhs engaged the Mughal forces. Guru Gobind Singh also sent reinforcements, though the number of Sikh soldiers is disputed. Historians like Latif have put it at 12,000, though the Sikh chroniclers say they were far fewer, some say as few as forty. They showered arrows from his strategic position on the mound, down upon the imperial army, killing a number of them. The resistance of the Sikhs became fierce. The enemy became restive for want of water. It was not possible for them to reach the lake of Khidrana. As it was semi-desert terrain and the summer heat was reaching its peak, the guru knew of its importance and based his defenses around the water reservoir. The only water they could get was fifteen miles behind them. Thirst and oppressive heat, and the tough resistance offered by the Sikhs, compelled the Mughal army to retreat. Guru Gobind Singh won this last Mughal-Khalsa battle, which had resulted in heavy casualties. At the end of the battle, when he was looking for survivors, Mai Bhago, who was lying wounded, told him how the forty deserters had laid down their lives fighting in the battlefield. Mai Bhago recovered and remained in the Guru's presence after the battle of Muktsar. When Guru Gobind Singh, along with his Sikhs, was collecting the dead bodies for cremation, he found one man, named Mahan Singh, still clinging to life. On seeing the Guru, he made an effort to rise; the Guru at once took him in his embrace, and sat down with him. Mahan Singh, tearful and exhausted, requested the guru to destroy the document disclaiming his being a Sikh of the Guru. Before Mahan Singh died, Guru Gobind Singh took the document and tore it up. It is a legendary belief that this gave "mukti", meaning freedom, to those 40 Sikhs and hence, the city got its modern-day name Muktsar, where the word "sar" is derived from the word "sarovar", meaning reservoir, with reference to the Kidrana reservoir.
In the days of persecution of the Sikhs, Jassa Singh often took refuge in the jungles of Muktsar.
The territories of Muktsar, Kotkapura, Mari and Mudki together with the Faridkot State, formed originally one territory, with its capital at Kotkapura. In 1807, Dewan Mokham Chand conquered the whole of this territory from Tegh Singh, and added it to the Lahore demesne. Mohkam Chand established thanas at Muktsar, Kotkapura and Mari and since that time the villages subject to these thanas have been known as separate territories.
Ram Singh, leader of the Namdhari sect, visited Muktsar in 1861 on the occasion of Mela Maghi to deliver his message. However, the priests of Muktsar Gurudwara refused to pray for Ram Singh, unless he agreed, by way of penalty for his "un-Sikh" ways, to pay the entire cost of masonry for the local tank.
After India gained independence from the British in August 1947, there was an aggressive exodus of the non-Muslims from West Punjab and that of Muslims from the East Punjab. A large number of refugees from the Bahawalpur state and from Montgomery and Lahore districts entered India through the border along the Firozpur district, of which Muktsar was a part of. According to the 1951 Census, 349,767 refugees from Pakistan settled in the Firozpur district including the erstwhile Muktsar and Moga tehsils.
The Muktsar city remained a tehsil of Ferozepur district from August 1947 to August 1972, and then it became a teshil of the newly carved out district, Faridkot. In November 1995, Muktsar became a district city. In February 2012, the city was officially renamed Sri Muktsar Sahib.
Muktsar is located in the south-western part of the Punjab state in north India. The city is spread over an area of 12.66 square miles (32.80 square Km). The geographical coordinates of the city are 30° 29' 0" North, and 74° 31' 0" East. Nearby cities include Bathinda 33 miles (53 km) to the south east, Ferozepur 32 miles (52 km) to the north, Faridkot 31 miles (50 km ) to the north east and Abohar 35 miles (56 km) to the south west. The state capital, Chandigarh, lies 249 km (155 miles) east to Muktsar. The city of Ludhiana is 92 miles (148 km) and Amritsar lies 104 miles (167 km) away. The Indian capital, New Delhi, lies 247 miles (398 km) south east to Muktsar.
The average land elevation of the city is 648.52 feet (197.67 metres) above sea level. Lithologically, Muktsar is a part of the vast Indo-Gangetic alluvial plain, composed of alternate bands of sands, silt and clay with pebbles. Sandy plains, sand dunes and topographic depressions are the common landforms.
The soil of Muktsar varies from sandy to loam in texture, and is low in organic carbon, phosphorus, zinc and other micro nutrients, but high in potassium. The salt affected soil of Muktsar has been categorized as sodic soil and saline sodic soil. The villages surrounding the city produce high yields of cotton, wheat, paddy and seed oil.
Climatically, the Western Himalaya in the north and the Thar Desert in the south and south-west mainly influence the climatic conditions. Since the city lies far away from the Sivalik Hills, and any of the major rivers, it experiences an extreme climate situation. Summers are extremely hot, and winters very cold. The city experiences four distinct seasons - spring (February - March), summer (April - August), fall/autumn (September - October) and winter (November - January), along with the monsoon season setting in towards the later half of the summer. Summers, from early April to mid October, are typically very hot and humid, with an average daily June high temperature of 104 °F (40 °C). The season experiences heat indices easily breaking 110 °F (43 °C). Winters are very cold and foggy with few sunny days, and with a December daytime average of 37.4 °F (3 °C). The Western Disturbance brings some rain in winters that further adds to the chill. Spring and autumn are mild and pleasant seasons with low humidity. The monsoon season usually starts in the first week of July and continues till August. Thunderstorms are not uncommon during the Monsoon. The mean annual rainfall fluctuates around 425 mm. About 71 per cent of the annual rainfall in the city is received during the monsoon season.
Muktsar is the 14th most populated city of the Punjab. According to the 2011 census of India, Muktsar urban city has a population of 117,085, of which males constitute 61,725 (52.87%) and females 55,022 (46.99%). The total number of households in the city is 23,644. The population under the age of 6 is recorded as 13,981, of which 7,646 are males and 6,335 females. The total number of literates in the city are 78,606, with 44,089 males and 34,517 females. 36,084 people work full-time in the city, of which a majority of them are males, constituting at 31,081 (86.14%) and only 5,003 (13.86%) females. The number of marginal workers is 4,213. The number of non-workers in Muktsar is 76,450. The city has a Scheduled Caste population of 38,381, of which 20,118 are males and 18,263 females
The contemporary lifestyle of the city is still strongly grounded in the traditional Punjabi culture, though the residents have customized the modernization, retaining the elements of their original culture. People often tend to be conservative in thoughts, opinions and clothes as compared to bigger cities. Since Muktsar lacks any major industry interaction or activity, it is largely not impacted by the modern cosmopolitan culture. The city has a share of troubles as small towns are low on priority list of everyone. However, the traditional Punjabi culture in Muktsar is rich, emphasizing family values and respect for elders. Regional as well as national festivals - Lohri, Holi, Gurpurbs and Diwali - are celebrated with great fervor. Weddings in the city are an elaborate, expensive arrangement, with the rituals extending for days, accompanied with songs, music, dance, traditional dresses and food. Traditional dance forms include bhangra and giddha. Muktsar is well renowned for Muktsari kurta pajama and Muktsari jutti.
Punjabi is the main language spoken in the city, and is spoken with a Malwai dialect. People also understand Hindi, though it is spoken with a Punjabi accent. Rajasthani is another dialect spoken in the city because of its proximity to the State of Rajasthan. Since some migrants from other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar come to Muktsar for manual unskilled jobs, the number of Hindi speakers has increased. A small segment of the city's population can comprehend English.
Wheat, in the form of rotis and parathas, forms the staple food of the city, which is eaten with cooked vegetables or legumes, usually in a spicy curry, using cooking oil. The common vegetables include potato, cauliflower, eggplant, okra and carrot. The popular legumes often cooked in the form of curry are lentil, chickpea, pigeon pea, black gram, peas and beans. Rice and dairy products are also an important component of the local food. Paneer - milk solids pressed under a weight and cut into cubes - is an expensive dairy food, eaten as curry with peas or other vegetables. The food is often supplemented by dairy products, such as yogurt or clarified butter, chutneys, pickles, papad onion, cucumbers or tomatoes. The local cuisine is well classified into two categories: vegetation and non-vegetation. However, meat is expensive, so most people cannot afford to eat meat or fish everyday, and even affluent people eat relatively little meat by western standards. Western style breakfast of toast, eggs, or prepared breakfast cereals is gaining popularity in the city compared to traditional Punjabi cuisine. The most popular method of cooking is using LPG gas stoves and traditionally, the household cooking is done mostly by women.
The city has many restaurants that serve the local cuisine, Chinese food, South Indian food, fast food, pizza and ice cream. The prominent local restaurants include Chawla's 2, Cafe Aroma, Hot & Fresh Canadian pizza, Baskin-Robbins, Vadilal and Havmor. Chai, samosa, golgappa, dahi bhalla, aloo tikki, pakora, chow mein and kulcha are cheap fast-selling items here, that are sold by both unlicensed and licensed food vendors, including mobile vendors, though the hygiene of the food is sometimes questionable. Burgers have managed to creep in as a cheap street fare, though it is very different from a typical American burger. Muktsar does not have any significant presence of a major international food chain store or a fine dining restaurant.
Entertainment avenues are virtually non-existent in Muktsar. The city is not exposed to western culture of nightclubs, pubs or clubs. In July 2015, the first multiplex was opened in Muktsar. With 3 screens and 590 seats, this cinema is being run as a franchise from SRS Cinemas by Rajpal theater. There are other 3 single-screen movie theaters in Muktsar - Cine Payal, Karnail and Ajit. There are no museums or performing arts centers in the city.
The major park in the city is Guru Gobind Singh Park, which has a sidewalk in a circular loop, that can be used for jogging. Mai Bhago park, located just behind Guru Gobind Singh Park, is a war memorial as a reminiscence for the battle of Muktsar in the memory of Mai Bhago and 40 Muktas. However, the park is ill-maintained. The city has another small park in the Mukt-e-minar complex, which houses the world's tallest khanda. It is located along the District Administrative Complex.
The city is virtually non-industrialized, lacking any significant industrial unit or factory. Before independence, Muktsar only had a few units producing small hand-held agricultural tools. Today, the only large scale industry near the city is Satia Paper Mills Limited, which is located about 7 km from the city center in Rupana village. The city has well-defined trade unions for most of the professions. The paper & card board workers union was officially registered in Muktsar in February 1986, the plumber union and also the cycle rickshaw puller union in September 1996 and mistri mazdoor (general manual labor) union in June 1998.
Muktsar does not have any shopping mall and the retail industry is largely unorganized. Though three major retail chains have opened stores in Muktsar - Easyday, Vishal Mega Mart and Aadhar, the local population typically buys FMCG goods, groceries, fresh produce like vegetables, eggs, milk and meat from small unorganized retail vendors, including small shops and unlicensed mobile vendors, rather than from organized retail stores.
The city is based on a municipal council form of government The Municipal Council is an institution which acts within the frame work set up by the Punjab Government and draws its powers from legislative enactment. It is managed by persons elected from among the public. In many respects, these institutions are independent but work under the oversight of the Punjab Government. The sources of income of the municipality include house tax, toll tax, water and sewerage rate, license fee, building fee, professional tax, entertainment tax, liquor tax and some minor taxes. The Muktsar municipality was constituted in April 1876 by the British Raj. The civic amenities provided by the municipal council include water supply, street lights, drainage, brick pavement of streets, cleanliness of the town and disposal of refuse. The municipal council maintains 28 miles (45 km) of roads. About 75 per cent of the town has sewerage facilities. Street lights have been installed in about 90 per cent of the town. The municipal council runs a public library and a reading room. It also maintains two parks.
The city's administration is managed by a Civil Sub Divisional Officer, reporting to the deputy commissioner of the Muktsar district. This position is responsible for co-ordinating the work of departments, the development activities, the revenue administration and the law and order of the city. Also, this position responds to the grievances of the public and attends to the problems arising out of natural calamities. The job profile for this position is also to act as the assistant collector under the Punjab Land Revenue Act and Punjab Tenancy Act. The profile is the appellate authority in cases decided by the subordinate revenue officers. A Sub-Divisional Magistrate placed by the State Government is the Executive Magistrate of Muktsar, who reports to the District Magistrate and is responsible for the maintenance of law and order within the limits of local jurisdiction, and also hears court cases. The other administrative positions include tehsildar, naib tehsildar, kanungo and patwari.
The law and order situation of Muktsar is directly managed by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, also known as Assistant Commissioner of Police and is an officer of Indian Police Service cadre, who reports to the Senior Superintendent of the District Muktsar Police. Muktsar police, which forms a part of Punjab Police, functions from two police stations: Police Station - City and Police Station - Sadar.
The crime graph is on a rise in Muktsar. The rising concern is the increase in number of homicides, rapes, domestic violence, robberies, assaults, burglaries, and thefts, including motor vehicle thefts. The city is experiencing considerable rates of homelessness, drug abuse, gang violence and prostitution.
The main gurdwara in Muktsar is Gurudwara Tuti Gandi Sahib, which was built by the first Sikh residents of the city that settled in the city in 1743. The gurdwara has a large holy pool, and the darbar sahib is located on the western bank of the pool. The building has been renovated several times. The holy shrine was built in the memory of the 40 muktas who died fighting for the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Tuti gandi, which literally translated means "broken ties", which is referred to Guru Gobind Singh nullifying the document that he was no longer the Guru of the 40 Sikhs, in the context of the battle of Muktar. Though the gurudwara attracts several visitors a day, there is a massive devotee footfall on Mela Maghi, celebrated on 13 January every year. The gurudwara also celebrates other religious occasions like the birthdays of Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Gobind Singh and the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev and Diwali, when the gurdwara is often illuminated. Shri Kalgidhar Niwas with forty rooms is available here for the devotees to stay during their visit. In the same premises, near the southeastern corner of the pool, is Gurudwara Tambu Sahib, which was built by Maharaja Mohinder Singh of Patiala. 50 metres away from the sarovar lies the Gurudwara Shahidganj Sahib. Built by Raja Wazir Singh of Faridkot, it is believed that it was here that Guru Gobind Singh cremated the bodies of the martyrs. Gurudwara Tibbi Sahib is also associated with the battle of Muktsar. It was this strategic spot that the guru chose to get a good view of the area, as that spot was located on a small hill, or a tibbi as called in Punjabi
Located around 200 meters east of Gurudwara Tibbi Sahib, is the Gurudwara Rakabsar Sahib, where, according to Sikh chronicles, the stirrup, or rakab in Punjabi, of Guru Gobind Singh's horse snapped. Another gurudwara associated with Guru Gobind Singh in Muktsar is Gurudwara Sri Datansar Sahib, where he killed a Muslim enemy, when he was attacked while brushing his teeth with a datan, a traditional Indian toothbrush. Gurudwara Taran Taran Sahib, located on Muktsar-Bathinda road, is also associated with Guru Gobind Singh, where he halted while moving towards Rupana, after winning the battle of Muktsar.
Muktsar has several Hindu temples, the prominent ones include Durga Mandir, Shiv Mandir on Kotkapura road and Mahadev Mandir. The city also has one Digamber Jain Temple located in Rambara Bazaar.
The city has a historical mosque called Jamia Masjid. Also known as Angooran wali maseet, it was built in November 1894 by Nawab Maulvi Razav Ali Mian Badruddin Shah. It features minarets and domes.
An annual event celebrated in the month of January every year, the mela is organized as a tribute to the 40 Sikhs who died fighting for Guru Gobind Singh in the battle of Muktsar in 1705. Though the mela extends for more than a fortnight, the main event is held on 14 January, a day after Lohri, and is considered as one of the most important of all religious gatherings of the Sikhs. Sikhs consider it to be a pious occasion to take a dip in the holy pond of the Muktsar gurduwaras on that day. Despite the biting cold, devotees came in droves from Punjab and neighbouring areas, including Haryana and Rajasthan, to pay obeisance at Gurdwaras here. Apart from the religious activities, several political parties hold rallies in the city during the mela. The Mela celebrates the unique diversity of Punjabi tradition and culture in an ambiance representing the ethos of rural India. Several temporary stalls line the road selling a variety of wares from kirpans to kitchen-ware to refurbished clothing. A makeshift amusement park is created, which features circus, giant wheel, merry-go-round, wall of death, toy train and similar rides, along with food stalls.
In May 2005, the then chief minister of Punjab, Amrinder Singh, inaugurated Mukt-e-minar, which is the world's tallest khanda. An 81-foot double edged sword shaped structure, it has 40 rings around it, symbolizing the 40 Sikhs that died during the battle of Muktsar. The memorial was dedicated to the 300 year anniversary of the last Mughal-Khalsa battle, where the Khalsa forces defeated the enemy.
Muktsar has a stadium called Guru Gobind Singh Stadium, with the facilities for athletics, basketball, football and kabaddi. The stadium is replete with a standard 400m competitive running track. The stadium also houses a large indoor sports stadium nearby, though presently it is in a state of neglect.
The city's public school system, managed by the Government of Punjab, is administered by Punjab School Education Board, through government schools. The city also has a large number of private schools, affiliated with Central Board of Secondary Education, Punjab School Education Board and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations.
Muktsar has a number of colleges for higher education offering degrees in the major streams like arts, commerce, science, law and medical science. Notable colleges in Muktsar include Government College and Bhai Maha Singh College of Engineering. The city also has a Punjab University regional centre.