‘Datarpur mein aapka swagat hai’ reads a welcome message at the entrance of Datarpur village, located around 20 km from Dasuya in Hoshiarpur district. Asked about the place’s history, a group of youngsters pointing towards the route to the king’s house say, “Aap Raja ke ghr jaaiye, Raja Datarchand unke poorvaj they, wo bataenge sab (Visit the king’s house, King Datarcharnd was his predecessor. He will tell you).” Datarpur was a pre-colonial Indian hill state founded in 1550 by Raja Datarchand.
In its blossom, the state was known for its big business centres and flourishing lives. But the spring slowly faded into a state of around 10,000 individuals without any medical and education facilities and a lost business centre.
Once upon a time...
Datarpur was annexed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1818 and by the British in 1849.
The village was a hub of mighty soldiers that fought with unmatched valour during wars. During World War 1 (1914-1919), as many as 152 soldiers from one Goiwal village of Datarpur fought, out of which, seven laid down their lives.
The land which once produced soldiers has now poor farmers living on the edge with one or one-and-a-half hectare of land.
“The land too is of no use due to increasing menace of wild animals in the area,” said a local.
A business hub
However, the large business centre of the area, around 200 years old, still houses more than 500 shops.
The unending bazaar gives a clear impression of a place from where supplies were carried out for Himachal Pradesh and even Jammu and Kashmir. But due to development of other business routes and roads/dams, this area kept on lagging behind and could not sustain the indifference of the authorities. Now, the area looms in darkness with poverty-stricken traders.
Kusum Sharma, sarpanch of the village said, “Every household has only one thinkable source of income i.e. to have a shop. However, the sale is never good as other towns have developed more.”
No medical facility
In the name of medical facility, Datarpur has one government Ayurvedic Dispensary. In case of an emergency, one has to rush to Jalandhar city, around 70-km from the village, as the only hospital at Talwara is ‘not reliable’.
One of the grocery shopkeepers while talking about the condition of the health facility said a doctor has joined recently. “Even for common health problems, we have to go to faraway places and that adds a burden to our pockets and sometimes the travel also causes further deterioration of health,” said a shopkeeper who did not wish to be named.
For educating the country’s future, there are two primary government schools here and a senior secondary school apart from four private schools. But the schools don’t see many students getting themselves enrolled. There are also no job opportunities for the students. One of the residents said that they constantly live in fear of their kids falling prey to bad company in the absence of a useful activity for them to do. He said that only few children move out of the state for better opportunities.
As the HT team followed the path shown by the youngsters, it landed on an inclined 0.5-km road that led to 50-year-old Kanwar Deepak Singh’s home, popular as the Raja’s home, more than 150 years old.
Situated on a high level, the house gives a view of the surrounding villages. At the entrance, there lies a huge ancient earthen ‘matka’ which is otherwise hard and rare to find. The Kunwar sits in a corner of a big room.
The successor of the kings, whose words were the law of the nation, now sits tight-lipped pertaining to a ‘Maun Vrat’ that has been on for three months. Why? His close co-villager answers, “He is a rajput by caste, descendent of a dynasty, but with time, the royalty has dwindled. The king now practices farming like the general people, that too without a tractor and other modern techniques.”
Ironically, the king himself is an astrologer but apparently, can’t do much to change his fate and that of the place once ruled by his forefathers.
At the back wall of the room where Kanwar sits, hangs a big and long piece of cloth that was used to cover palanquins at the time of marriage in the royal family, horns of barasingha and a shankh (shell). However, there are no precious jewels or golden stamps (mohars) to show his royal background.