Sujanpur Tira near Hamirpur
Originally this small hamlet on the bank of River Beas was known as Sajjanpur – a place where sajjan, which means good and honest people, lived. Indeed, since time immemorial, people of all caste and creed lived here in harmony. When Katoch king Raja Abhoy Chand built a fort on top of an adjoining tira or a hillock, it began to be referred as Sajjanpur Tira. Over the passage of time the name changed into Sujanpur Tira. Today, it is a subdivisional town in the Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh.
History of Sujanpur TiraWe do not exactly know when the settlement at Sujanpur was first established. It is may be that an organized township came up once the fort was built. At the same time, it could also be that the town was already in existence when Raja Abhay Chand Katoch decided to build a fort on top the tira. There is also an ambiguity about the year of construction of the fort. A plaque at the entrance of the fort says that it was built in 1750. However, another school of thought puts it at 1748.
Nonetheless, it is certain that the king was not being whimsical when he chose this site for an additional fortress. May be he could foresee the advent of Mughals and felt that a safer haven must be built before it was too long. However, the actual development of the township as well as the fort took place under Raja Sansar Chand II. He reigned over the area from 1765 to 1823. Although he freed the fort at Kangra from the clutches of the Mughals, he made Sujanpur Tira his capital and ruled his ever expanding kingdom from there.
However, the importance of the fort decreased with the decline of the Raja Sansar Chand. Yet, the palace stood with all its glory until a devastating earthquake destroyed it in 1905. Nonetheless, the ruins that stand today give a fair idea about the past glory of this palace.
The Decline of Sujanpur TiraBecause rulers in India were not very keen on keeping recorded history, many discrepancies can be found in their stories, which in turn give rise to many interesting tales. One of them tells us why the Katochs had to abandon Sujaanpur Tira and shift to Lambagraon.
It is said that, one of Sansar Chand’s Dogra courtiers asked him for a loan for his daughter’s wedding. For some reason or the other, the king refused to comply. The courtier had served the king faithfully for many years and so he could not stand this refusal. Disheartened, he committed suicide and cursed that Katochs would never be able to rule on the left bank of River Beas. True enough, Sansar Chand had to leave not only his fort at Sujanpur Tira, but also all other forts located on the left bank of the river and ultimately settle in Lambagraon.
However, if you go through the history of Hamirpur and Kangra, you will find that after Sansar Chand lost the Second Battle at Mohol Morian near Hamirpur, he escaped to Kangra. The Gorkhas chased the retreating king and lay siege on the castle for three long years. Ultimately, Sansar Chand beat his enemies with the help of Raja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, in lieu of which he had to surrender all that was virtually his. In return, he received Lambagraon as appanage and lived on the revenue he received from that estate. It may sound coincidental, but the fact is that Lambagraon is located on the right bank of River Beas.
The Present Sujanpur Tira
The Chaughan that remains green all through the year
The Layout of the TownAs we have already said, the town is spread around this choughan. The interesting fact is that, each side the choughan was occupied by a specific caste. For example the merchant community had their homes located on the river side; maybe that is because they depended much on the river to ply their trade. The Kshatriyas lived in the opposite direction at the foot of the hillock. The Brahmins lived on their right and the working community lived on their left. However today, this practice is on the decline. People no longer bother much about caste and creed.
Temples in Sujanpur Tira
Beside residential quarters, two famous temples are also located on the two sides of this choughan. Among them Murli Manohor Temple, which is also known as Bansiwala Temple, is located on its left side and the Narvdeshwar Temple is located on the river side. The later is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Since it has been left unscathed by the devastating earthquake of 1905, Pahari frescoes that decorated its walls since its inception can still be seen. The Murli Manohor Temple too has beautiful frescoes depicting Radha, Krishna and other Gopis on its walls. Other than these two temples, Vyasheshwar Temple built in the memory of Wrishi Vyash and Chamunda Devi temple are also worth a visit.