Pul Kanjari near Amritsar
Pul Kanjari is located at a distance of 35 km from Amritsar Railway Station on Amritsar-Lahore Road close to the Wagha border. Daoka and Dhanoa Kalan are two important villages located nearby. The place has been associated with life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji and named after his favorite dancer Moran, who many researchers believe was also one of his favorite wives. Of late, it has been declared a World Heritage site by United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Baradari
The Shiva Temple at Pul KanjariApart from the Baradari, the Maharaja built a Shiva temple, a mosque, a Gurudwara and a sarovar. The temple is made out of Nanakshahi bricks. The interior of the temple is decorated with beautiful frescos; they can still be seen on its walls and ceilings. However, there were also paintings on its exterior walls; but they have been badly damaged.
The Sarovar at Pul Kanjari
The Bridge Across the CanalThe canal that Shah Jahan dug later played an important role in the history of this area. A Muslim dancer named Moran used to live in Makhanpur village, not far away from Baradari. Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji was very fond of her and so whenever he came here he would send for her. At that time there was no bridge across this canal and so Moran had to cross it on horseback wherever she was summoned to the Baradari.
One day while crossing the canal on horseback, one of her slippers slipped from her foot and got lost. It was made out of silver and was actually a preset from the Maharaja. Consequently, she was very upset. She had also been inconvenienced earlier and so she refused to perform unless the Maharaja promised to build a bridge across the canal. Seeing her so perturbed, the Maharaja gave immediate order to that effect.
The bridge was built with biscuit bricks, popularly known as Lahori bricks. These bricks were characteristic of the Mughal era and were used in the construction of Red Fort. In Taj Mahal also we see use of such bricks. Since the bridge was built in the honor of a dancer, which in Punjabi is called kanjari, the bridge began to be known as Pul Kanjari. It is in existence even to this day.
The opening of the bridge had a great commercial outcome for the area. Traders from far and near began to set up their units in this village and very soon it became an important trading outpost between Lahore and Amritsar.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji and MoranAs we have said, Kanjari in Punjabi means dancer. Researchers also say that Kanjari comes from the Persian word Kanchani, which means dipped in gold. Although the word is used derogatively today, it was not so in those days.
Earlier the status of a dancer was quite high. These women were not only trained in all branches of arts, but were highly educated. Besides, they were epitome of social etiquettes and sought after by men of high position. In addition, they were independent lot and had the right to decide their own fate. If they wanted to live independently, they could do so and if they ever wanted to get married, they generally chose wealthy and powerful men. Moran was one such woman.
It is believed that Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji was in love with Moran and it went beyond the physical aspect of it. To sanctify his love and also to send a message to the people at large he decided to marry her. Since she was a Muslim and he a Sikh, there were obstacles from all sides. The Maharaja was summoned to the Akal Takht and was awarded the punishment of public flogging. Ranjit Singh ji accepted the punishment and bared his back. Finally, the punishment was reduced to a fine. He ultimately married Moran and she soon became his most favorite queen. However, due to palace intrigues, Maharani Moran later shifted to Pathankot and decided to live off her jagir.