The rainy spell, which lasted a couple of days, during my recent visit to the Kalesar National Park provided me with a prospect to visit some of the lesser-known destinations located nearby the forest. Although the unrelenting spells of shower made the wildlife-photography as well as access to the interiors of the jungle near-impossible but nonetheless allowed general navigation in-between villages and towns in the surrounding areas.
As we yakked with the forest staff, over tea, in the veranda of the colonial Forest Rest House, situated by the right bank of river Yamuna, in the fringes of the National Park, a rough-list of preferred-visits, in the nearby areas, was prepared. The important destinations that emerged from the discussion, strictly as per the folklore, included Kaleshwar Temple, Hathni Kund, Shahjahan castle ruins, Chuharpur, Jagadhri, Sugh, Bilaspur, Kapal Mochan, Rin Mochan, Ban Santour, Ad-Badri Temple as well as Buria. I was particularly interested in visiting the historical village of Buria for one of the guards had claimed that it was the birthplace of Birbal, the famed advisor to the great Mughal emperor Akbar. To substantiate his claim, the guard flashed an old leaflet of the district administration in which it was indeed mentioned that Buria is the birth place of Birbal.
By late morning, succumbing to the incessant rains, we moved out from the forest property and headed towards the district headquarters of Yamunanagar. The rain-washed fertile fields of terai on the way brilliantly contrasted with the outcast-to-blue sky. Instead of taking the motorway alongside the western Yamuna canal, due to wet-weather, we preferred the highway to Yamunanagar. A few kilometres short of the district headquarters, the link-road to village Buria branches off the main highway from Jagadhri.
As we reached the historic village, we were greeted by a sign-board from Gurudwara, a Sikh Temple, dedicated to the ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur Singh. Another one pointed towards the link-road leading to the Pataleshwar Mahadev Shiv Ashram located in the neighbouring village of Dayalgarh. A few metres ahead, an imposing fortress with a magnificently built entrance gate appeared at a distance. A nearby located tea-stall owner confirmed the identity of the gate to be Birbal Dwar. According to him, Birbal was born in this village, though, other than his verbal corroboration I failed to decipher any visible clue to the ancestral home of Birbal.
Later on, I drove through the cemented lanes of the village. Despite having once been the headquarters of a princely state – Buria – the settlement was still just a village. A portion of the ancient-complex was still said to be lively and was looked after by the descendants of the royal family of Sardar Amol Singh, who ruled the state in the pre-independence era. The part which was in ruins was said to have been built by Shah Jahan as Rang Mahal to support his games in the then wildlife-rich terai. The exterior-architecture of the castle seemed to have borrowed a thing or two from Mughal-styled buildings but was essentially and compulsively very much a locally prevalent flavour. For a layman, it was not possible to enter a major part of the complex. Having spent more than couple of hours in the village, I hurriedly took a few photographs of the citadel and left the village to conclude a noteworthy visit. By now the weather was fast changing its contours.
Later when I got home, I delved into the widely accepted versions of ancient and medieval history of the region to know as well as understand more, and most importantly accurately, about the area. At the end of the day, I had the following to submit on the region that inspired vivid expressions out of the notable Punjabi author Bhai Santokh Singh.
Just as most of the princely states, the historical Buria has gone through many upheavals. In its heyday, during the Harshavardhan’s rule, Buria was visited by the Chinese Buddhist traveller Hiuen Tsang in the second quarter of the seventh century. In his memoirs, Hiuen Tsang referred to this place and talked about the presence of a few Buddhist monasteries and prevalence of Buddhist religion alongside the dominance of Hinduism. Afterward, the town was said to have been rehabilitated by the Mughal emperor Humayun and subsequently flourished under the directional-headship of Birbal during the Akbar rule. The Fort was captured by the Sikhs in the mid-eighteenth century and thereafter the control kept changing hands between the descendants of the family. As a result of family feuds orchestrated by the British Government, the chiefdom of considerable importance was merely reduced to the status of an ordinary Jaagir by 1849. Not only that, the origin of Jat gotra Buria could also be traced to this familial kingdom that found a mention by Megasthenes in his Indica.