Heritage · Photography

Sunday Walk Through Paltan Bazaar, Dehradun.

Things I tell myself the night before Sunday walk:

a) Be resolute, be strong.

Be ready to abandon bed-blanket on a Sunday morn.

Sigh!

b) Be on time to hit the trail.

Set the alarm for 5.45 and 6.00 am.

Another one for 6.15.

Then RUN!

c) Carry the essentials.

Excitement , wonder, curiosity, and imagination!

Last Sunday, I was on time for the walk or as I fondly call my time travelling adventures into the past.

This particular one took me through the heart of an Indian market-Dehradun’s Paltan Bazaar. It is usually the bustling kinds where one is swept along by the flowing sea of humanity; at 7 am on a cold December day, it was virtually deserted.

Interestingly the walk leader of the excellent Been There Doon That group described the market as the spine of the city. It literally snakes its way from the Clock Tower (Doon’s most famous landmark) to the Darbar Sahib with its gorgeous murals at the other end. Also as mercantile activities go, it reigns supreme as the backbone of the city.

Two hours later, the same marketplace had my mind abuzz with tales of revolutionaries, British soldiers, Afghan rulers, brothels, grand havelis, Ruskin Bond and heritage properties .

Ok! I have to share the enthralling revolutionary tale first that had its beginnings in Ghosi Gali.

A popular tailoring hub, Ghosi Gali is a network of crisscrossing narrow lanes adjacent to the Paltan Bazaar. Once upon a time it also happened to be the lair of a famous freedom fighter, Ras Bihari Bose.

What did I know about him other than his name? Nothing really.

Apparently Mr Bose while manning a clerk’s desk in the beautiful FRI, quietly plotted to assassinate the British Viceroy in Delhi, the most powerful man during that time. Imagine the kind of personal security (he was sitting on an elephant) and then to actually have a bomb dropped on him.

What an extraordinary feat!

He survived and so did mastermind Ras Bihari Bose who evaded capture, came back to Doon and resumed work, travelled, joined other revolutionaries. His thrilling journey culminated in Japan where he introduced the Indian style curry to the Japanese and lived out his last days.

Now that is a blockbuster waiting to be seen on the big screen.

As for Paltan Bazaar, it sprang to cater to the needs of the British platoons during the Raj (hence the name).

That morning, stories were shared of traders from this very market who planted the fragrant, long-grained rice which came to be known as Dehradun Basmati. They got it from the exiled Afghan kings pining for the taste of their homeland. Tales of nautch girls and brothels that flourished right where the staid, run-of-the-mill furniture showrooms stood and canals that flowed right where we walked seemed like a figment of imagination.

As the sun grew stronger, we picked up pace to catch glimpses of some more remnants of the era gone.

Crumbling havelis and centuries old heritage properties, some loved while others desperately seeking care.

Seeing doubles!

This homeless man bore a striking resemblance to the man in the mural behind him. The surprising part, this structure is around three hundred years old!

My favourite also included these gigantic gates called Hathi Dwar guarding old mansions, hidden from the view by a market chockablock with shops and vegetable vendors. These fancy gates were presumably large enough to allow an elephant to pass through.

Today there are no elephants to glide majestically in this urban jungle but the signpost of past riches still remain.

I wonder for how long?

Nature is already reclaiming some.

Others have disappeared like the second oldest post office which was functioning a while ago. Now only a derelict looking letterbox hangs there to mark the spot.

Maybe these time travelling expeditions will breathe life into their stories and make them relevant again. History definitely has to be more than just learning plain, boring dates.

Fading into obscurity would be choice then.

Lens- Artists: Nostalgic

Photo challenge visitors

Jos’s Monday Walk

22 thoughts on “Sunday Walk Through Paltan Bazaar, Dehradun.

    1. It is always a privilege to be part of each BTDT walk but this paltan bazar I missed.
      But now I have pictures n information narrated in this walkπŸ˜ƒπŸ‘£Thank you Sheetal

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a pleasure to interact with a fellow walker. Like you, I’ve had a great deal of fun exploring and rediscovering Doon. Saw a different side to the most chaotic of all markets and loved it. I hope this post whets your appetite to go on this walk soon . 😊

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    1. That was definitely a lucky shot Tina. Although I do feel sorry for both of them – that is a 300 year old heritage building crying for attention and he appears to be a homeless guy who has found shelter underneath its roof.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sue ! I quite felt like a visitor walking in a near empty market early in the morning . By the time it’s 11 am, the place is transformed into a buzzing, writhing, animated being , alluring, colourful and crackling with energy. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How come I never see all the things you brought alive by your post? Maybe, too busy to scan the shops and the displayed articles hanging and shouting out for an attention!Β 
    Your post has given me new lenses ( to use on my next visit) and paltan bazaar has got a facelift as well!Β 
    It’s food for imagination too…think of all the rustling of feet, giggles of laughter, the secrets rendezvous of those freedom fighters…it’s endless. It makes you yearn for those bygone era!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manjari, thinking indeed of the rustling feet and tinkling of bells, laughter, secret rendezvous, of plotting and whispering and pouring over maps and plans and hearing the water gushing in the canals. 😊 Another world , right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it amazing how we have everything right in front of our eyes and we just can’t see it .
    Being a resident of Doon myself , I personally feel this place is magical and to feel that magic all we have to do is stop,watch and feel. All you have to do is just step outside and stop. Just for a minute forget everything, and just wait for it to embrace you, that beauty. Isn’t it amazing? All we need is a different angle. To quote former president Kalam “Dream,Dream,Dream”. Never stop dreaming, let your imagination run wild!
    I will go on and on so I better stop πŸ˜‰ Love your blogs ,Keep up the good work!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, to see the familiar in a different light and a vivid imagination are all that we need to feel the magic. Thank you for taking the time to read, appreciate and connect. Your marvellous comments had me smiling all the way. Have a lovely day!

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  3. The old man does look like a Saddhu… πŸ™‚
    And I can imagine elephants going through that door…
    There is a book by A French philosopher (Paul Ricoeur) Called “Memory, History, Oblivion”. Many things are now fading into oblivion… As an example, I knew someone who was born in the raj, my grandmother. I now realize she spoke Hindustani. Never thought about that… πŸ™‚ But her memories are gone now…
    Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

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