Friday, December 30, 2011

Alamchand - Pargana Chail

This vegetable crop made me stop on the way !

Came across a Tiraha , asked the way to Alamchand

This is the road towards Alamchand

As I entered , saw this lakhori Brick-walled House

 Old Lady suspecting us to be a govt official  followed us through 

Pucca Makan


Maulvi Iqbal's Mansion !

Another view of this grand structure !

Two of the best structures stand jointly !

Raza Husain Sahib's Mansion

Inside the pillared doorway

Khan Bahadur Haji Sayyid Muhammad Raza Husain

Tere diye jalane wale Kahan gaye !


At least here is a boundary !

Loud Speaker & Board over the mosque parapet

Inside view of the mosque. Would you locate my laptop bag ?

Front view of the mosque

Inside the mosque

Out of Village now

Alamchand is an old village of Pargana Chail . Today it falls under the block -Mooratganj in district Kaushambi (formerly in Allahabad). 


It is a remote village lying on the north-west outskirts of Pargana Chail. Nearby Villages are Sikandarpur Bajaha (1.4 km),Adampur Nadir Ali (1.5 km),Lohra (2.6 km) ,Barai Salem (2.6 km) Balihawan Deh (2.9 km) and Narvar Patti. 

Name & Origin

The real name of this village is Narna .The popular name is Alamchand. The name of the revenue Mauza is still Narna and its derivation is ascribed to a story related with Emperor Alamgir.

Initially it was a small village that gained importance after it was taken as an abode by a branch of the Bukhari Naqvi Sayyids who settled here in the late 7th Century Hijri. We do not find any important event related with this village in any of the annals from 7th century till 11the AH. However during the medieval period Alamchand gained an importance for being an important halting point on the Royal route from Delhi to Allahabad known as Sarai Narna.

Sarai' is a Persian word meaning ' Hostelry ' or Inn. During the Sultanate & Mughal era the halting places for caravans and travelers were known as Serai or Sarai. Since Narna was located exactly on the original GT Road, it might have developed gradually into an important halting place for the royal as well as the common caravans. No body could enter the City of Prayag / Ilahabas without halting at Alamchand. Since we don’t find any mention of a Sarai at Alamchand in history prior to 15th Century AD it boils downs that the village developed as Serai only during the late 16th century .

This sarai Narna must have been a huge and important place indeed as no important book of travelogues  of the medieval history is without a mention about Alamchand. We find a short description of this Sarai in the book by Jewish Father Tieffenthaler.

Joseph Tieffenthaler was a Jesuit Father, born at Botzen about 1715.In 1743 he arrived in Goa, and lived in India travelling into northern part of India around 1750-1770. He mentions as follows :-

Ref:The mid-Gangetic region in the eighteenth century, some observations of Joseph Tieffenthaler  by SN Sinha (1976)

The importance of Alamchand as a Sarai can be gauged from the fact that the archaeological survey of India got few coins of King Ferdinand of Spain from Alamchand. See the excerpt below.

Book :Title The journal of the Numismatic Society of India, Volumes 10-12
Published 1949

As mentioned earlier the name ALAMCHAND was given to it by Emperor Aurangzeb as I shall discuss it in the following paragraphs. Historically there is no doubt that Aurangzeb halted at Alamchand.


The history of the settlement of zamindars of Alamchand village is again associated with the life and times of Qazi Husam-ud-Din Hasan Bukhari.

Through my earlier writings, you must be aware about Qazi Husam-ud-din who was sent by Firoz Shah Tughlaq to put down the rebellion of Bhars around Kara and how Qazi Sahib defeated the Bhar chiefs and settled in Parsakhi.

When Firoz Shah Tughlaq heard the news of the victory of Qazi Sahib, he was elated and gifted 22 villages as reward to Qazi Sahib for his sustenance and settlement in this area. Narna was indeed amongst those villages since we find that Qazi Sahib gave it to one of his sons Qazi Sayyid Meet.

Qazi Sayyid Meet moved to Narna and settled here. He had his son Sayyid Naseeruddin born here. He was a valiant and adventurous man. In jungles and ravines along the Ganges laid the strongholds of many bandits .He would take on the local brigands, encountered the Bhars and chased the vagrant boatmen groups who used to rob and commit burglaries around the village and even killed the people for nothing. Hence Qazi Meet had to lead a soldier’s life. Apart from keeping a posse of armed group he himself would live a combatant life. Furthermore he had to supply men to the royal forces as and when required for a battle as per the custom of that era. Hence the Sayyids of Narna were known to be a belligerent group who could live without food but not without a bout.

In the late 17th Century, this soldiery and militancy took an ugly shape when the Sayyids of Alamchand fought a battle with Sayyids of Badegaon for some pattidari* lands. This fight took place at Alamchand.The unfortunate result was so macabre that not a single male was left alive in Alamchand; all the male members were slain in the fight. Only the wife of one Sayyid Daud could run away with her single son in her lap. This child grew up amongst his maternal and was known as Sayyid Ilah’Diya. This Sayyid Ilah’Diya is the ancestor of the whole lot of Naqvi Sadaat of Alamchand.

Note *The pattidari land was one in which descendents of a common ancestor had divided the lands of their ancestral patrimony following genealogical principles where usually some lands such as orchards, tanks and some waste land were held in common.

After this ghastly incident Alamchand got deserted and not a single family of Zamindar could be found there  or could dare to live there.When the local brigands and local chiefs found no one at Alamchand to check them , they rose and started creating disturbances in the environs again. The entire area simmered at the mercy of the robbers, bandits, criminals who prevailed scot free. The common man of the environs was too scared to make a counter against them.

After the battle in 1658 against Prince Shuja , on his return from Allahabad to Delhi Emperor Aurangzeb halted at Alamchand and saw the pitiful condition of the desolated village of Narna. He was told about the fight that laid the village waste. He called for Sayyid Daud, the only survivor and successor of the Zamindar family of Alamchand. Sayyid Daud was called from his Nanihal, was resumed in his possessions and re-established as the zamindar of Narna and it was that time Alamgir changed the name of the village to Alamchand.

Battle of Sarai Alamchand

Another important historical event associated with the village is a battle of 1712.

On August 2, 1712 - a very important battle was fought near Alamchand wherein Sayyid Abdul Ghaffar advanced at the head of 3,000 men to bar the progress of, Abul Hasan Khan, a Sayyid of Bijapur, who was Sayyid Hassan Ali Khan Barha's Bakhshi. Abul Hasan Khan's was victorious and it confirmed the position of Sayyid Hassan Ali Khan Barha and made it  clear that the Sayyid Brothers of Barha were allied against the Emperor for the new contender Prince Farrukh siyar. 

William Irvine in his Later Mughals gives an account of the battle as follows:-

Stay of Emperor Shah Alam II at Alamchand

During his return journey - on 13th April 1771 the Emperor Shah Alam II advanced from Allahabad to Sarai Alam Chand where he halted for 19 days planning his march to Delhi and expecting to be joined by his Wazir Shuja-ud-Daulah.At the time of this above mentioned meeting with the Emperor at Sarai Alam Chand, Shuja gave the Emperor 10 lakh in cash, carriages, tents, some other articles. This meeting is recorded in almost all the chronicles of that era and Alamchand gained a enviable place in the annals of history.

Book      : Fall of the Mughal Empire, Volume 2
Author   : Sir Jadunath Sarkar -----Page 397

Book      : Shuja ud Daulah
Author   : Ashirbadi Lal Srivaastava

Historical references

In below I  have compiled a few important historical references that I found in the old annals of history.

1) During the British era, Alamchand was also known throughout the empire for its huge indigo factory established by the British. One of its tank could still be seen in Alamchand. The Encylopaedia Britannica of 1902 mentions the following.

Book     : The Encyclopaedia Britannica: latest edition.
Authors : Day Otis Kellogg, William Robertson Smith Publisher:Werner, 1902

2) The famous Mrs.Parlby has also mentioned her stay at Alamchand.She mentions about the Mahua fruit she saw at Alamchand.
Book      :Begums,Thugs and Englishmen: The Journals of Fanny Parkes. - Page 70
Author   :Fanny Parkes Parlby, (William Dalrymple)

March 27th- We quitted Allahabad , and drove the first stage to Alamchand, where we were kindly received by friends. At this place I first remarked the mowa (Mahua) tree (Bassia longifolia). The fruit was falling and the natives were collecting it to make bazaar srab (ardent spirits). The fruit, which is white, only falls during the daytime.

3)Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605 –1689) the famous French traveller and trader who is most known for his work known as “ Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier” (Six Voyages, 1676) too passed through Alamchand en route Allahabad. Here is the excerpt.

Translated from the original French Edition of 1676.
Oxford University Press
London: Humphrey Milford, 1925

The 6th [December] to Alamchand, 9 coss. About two leagues on this side of Alamchand, you meet the *Ganges*. Monsieur *Bernier*, Physician to the King, and a man named [[95]] Rachepot, who was with me, were surprised to see that this river, so much talked about, is not larger than the Seine in front of the Louvre, it being supposed that it equalled in width, at the least, the Danube below Belgrade. There is actually so little water between the months of March and June or July, when the rains commence, that boats are not able to ascend it. On arrival at the Ganges, we each drank a glass of wine which we mixed with water-- this caused us some internal disturbance; but our attendants who drank it alone were much more tormented than we were. The Dutch, who have a house on the banks of the Ganges, never drink the water of the river, except after it has been boiled; as for the native inhabitants, they have been accustomed to it from their youth; the Emperor even and all his court drink no other. You see every day a large number of camels which do nothing else but fetch water from the Ganges.

4)William Fordyce Mavor (1758–1837), compiler of educational works, in his famous “historical account of the most celebrated voyages “ has described the coniditon of Alamchand

Book      :Historical account of the most celebrated voyages, travels – Vol 24
Author   :William Fordyce Mavor
Publisher:Printed for E. Newbery, 1801

)5The famous Peter Mundy has also mentioned Alamchand ki Sarai in his marvelous Memoirs.
 Peter Mundy (floruit 1600-1667) was an English travelle from Penryn in Cornwall.

Book      :The travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667
Author   :Peter Mundy

Sadaat-i-Naqvi of Alamchand

As mentioned earlier the erstwhile zamindars of Alamchand are descended from Sayyid Meet s/o Qazi Husam-ud-Din Hasan Bukhari who was a Naqvi Sayyid from the Bukhari family of Uchh.

If you recall the unfortunate fight and then Aurangzeb's effort to re-inhabitate the village. Sayyid Daud was called and re-installed at the village. This Sayyid Daud had a son named Sayyid Swaleh and Sayyid Swaleh had Sayyid Abdul Nabi and from this line is descended the entire lot of the Naqvi Sadat of Alamchand.

Mirat al Jalali produces an imperfect and incomplete genealogical table of the Naqvis of Alamchand ;still it has its reference value a lot for the generations to follow.

Famous Persons

During the period of Shah Alam II (1728–1806), Sayyid Muhammad Aashiq was a very famous zamindar & military general of Mughal era from Alamchand. He cleared the ravines along the Ganges and eliminated the criminal gangs and tumultuous boatmen from there. He took on Bhars and chased them out several times. Shah Alam Badshah who was at Allahabad at the time was very happy to hear about Sayyid Ashiq’s bravery and gave him a letter of Appreciation. The vindictive Bhars who were looking for an opportunity got eventually one when they struck him at night and killed Sayyid Ashiq. Emperor Shah Alam was quite upset when he heard about Sayyid Ashiq’s death. Later on he called his minor Son Sayyid Ghulam Haider and asked him to join the royal forces, got him trained and appointed in the army of Nawab of Murshidabad.

Thus Sayyid Ashiq moved from Alamchand and settled at Murshidabad in Bengal and served Nawab Kasim 'Ali Khan Bahadur, Nusrat Jang [Mir Muhammad Kasim], Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, (1760-1783) for several years.According to Mirat’al Kunain , the reason for a branch of Naqvis of Alamchand converting to Shia faith during the late 18th Century was this association of Sayyid Ashiq with Murshidabad and Nawab of Murshidabad.

Khan Bahadur Sayyid Muhammad Raza Husain - See photograph above !

An illustrious figure from Alamchand, Khan Bahadur Sayyid Muhammad Raza Husain was the son of  Sayyid Ali Raza , descended from the same Sayyid Ashiq as mentioned above. He was born in 1849, initially took service in Police, later on posted as a Kotwal in Bareilly where he earned laurels for his remarkable judgment and equanimity in managing the crucial events. He was noted to be an outstanding man throughout his career as a police officer.The British Govt. awarded him the title of Khan Bahadur in 1901. After retirement form Police he was called by the Nawab of Rampur to work as a Collector in Rampur. He was a distinguished person of his era. He wrote a travelogue about his travels (Ziarat) of Hajj and visits at Iraq & Iran. In Allahabad he constructed Jannat Mahal in Hasan Manzil and a mansion in Alamchand as well. He was survived by his daughters without a son. A photograph of him is attached here.

Sayyid Ameer Husain was a well read litterateur from Alamchand in the 19th century.

Sayyid Mazhar Husain Naqvi, a DSP in UP Police was from the last lot of distinguished ones from Alamchand. Perhaps his name and fame is the singular reason for today’s generation to know about Alamchand. His son Wasif Naqvi is a forest officer in Maharashtra. His brothers were Muhammad Ahmad and Tufail Ahmad Naqvi.......but their home is now in ruins...

To relate and connect you to the last century of Alamchand I am putting here the names of some of the well known from the past century. Basheer Ahmad Mukhtar, Muhammad Hasan and his sons Muhammad Raza, Mustahsan and Ahsan Sahiban. Abdul Sattar, Ali Akbar , Naseer Ahmad, Ghayyur Ahmad, Ali Haidar, Manzoor Ali, Mohsin Ali were the well known persons from Alamchand. One Abul Hasan Sahib moved to Pakistan

Hakeem Muhammad Qasim and Maulvi Ameer Ahmad were also the learned ones from the village.

Sayyid Ali Amjaad ( Anjan Darogha) and his sons namely Sayyid Ali Zuhad Naqvi famously known as Shakeel Damar and Ali Irshad Naqvi known as Jameel are also from Alamchand. Sayyid Muhammad Rafi Naqvi Advocate is also from Alamchand.

When I visited Alamchand I found Mr.Jauhar Abbas Rizwi and Sayyid Abu Muhammad Sahiban who are originally from Bisauna VIA Peepalgaon. I learnt about Mr.Tanveer Aftab (Ausaf ) from the only Naqvi family of Ali Akbar Sahib still residing in Alamchand.

Today’s Alamchand is a mere shadow of its past. Barring one no Naqvi family is residing here whereas the more prominent inhabitants are the two Rizwi families of PeepalGaon who migrated to Alamchand 60-70 years ago.

These two families of Rizwis from Bisauna came and settled here from PeepalGaon in the middle of the last century, namely Meer Ata Husain and Meer Ansar Husain. Maulvi Iqbal Husain son of Meer Ansar was a well known figure of the past.

The original Naqvi Sadat have almost entirely forsaken the village. The paternal house of Deputy Mazhar is into ruins while the brick mansions of Sayyid Raza Husain and his kins are still standing well-maintained. A lot of families who live in Allahabad probably find it too far off OR do not get time to even visit their ancestral place ;whereas those who are based out of Allahabad have gone out of question at all. Such is the condition of a village which was one of the jewels in the crown of zamindars of Chail. The transition from the value based life to the commerce based life has played havoc with everything from makan to Makeen.

Alamchand is silent now. Today there is no royal hustle bustle or any preparation for a impending battle. It seemed to me that it is saying " I have had enough of blood-shed, fight and intrigues so far , no more please.. leave me alone now. I have already entertained a lot from Europe to Asia.I have lost guts to take on any more........please for god sake......leave me alone , I want to be at rest now.... and really it stands alone there .......resting , silent and solitary ......

When I got up to leave … old lady commented , Miyan ab yahan kya dhara hai, us waqt aatey jab Log Sachche Aur Makaan Kachche Hua Karte The ! 

I didn’t look back at the dilapidated houses while stepping in the car …….. A couplet came to my mind 

Akele Ghar se poochti hai be-kasi
tere diye jalane wale kiya huwe

But Suddenly rose the AZAAN for Asr and I stepped out of the car and ran towards Masjid .......

Ye ek Sajdah jise too Giran Samajhta hai
Hazaar Sajdon se deta hai Aadmi ko Nijaat !

Do you remember the initial lines of Surah Ar-Rum (7-9)

They know but the outer (things) in the life of this world: but of the End of things they are heedless.

Do they not reflect in their own minds? 

Not but for just ends and for a term appointed, did Allah create the heavens and the earth, and all between them: 

yet are there truly many among men who deny the meeting with their Lord (at the Resurrection)!

Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them?
Khalid Bin Umar
New Delhi

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