Discovering the town of Nuh through its architectural heritage
The forgotten town of Nuh, which is located about 45 minutes south of Gurugram and lies on the Delhi-Alwar Highway, is easily accessible via road in an hour’s time. Besides the historic sites of Nuh, the road journey also covers picturesque hilly outcrops of the Aravallis enroute. The town has a long history, although the earliest evidence is only found since the Gurjara-Pratihara times.
The city and area show associations with the era of Raja Mihir Bhoja from 9th century CE. Mihira Bhoja (836–885 CE) or Bhoja I was one of the most powerful rulers of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of India. He was a devotee of Vishnu and adopted the title of Adivaraha, which is also inscribed on some of his coins. During earlier excavations, similar coins of Indo-Sassanian type (Adivaraha type) issued by Mihir Bhoja have been recovered from Indri near Nuh, thereby endorsing the historical significance of this area associated with the peak time of the Gurjara Pratihara period.
The town of Nuh gained regained its importance later in the 18th century during the reign of Bahadur Singh of Ghasera, who built a fort in Ghasera about 14 km from Nuh. Some of the important architectural specimens of Nuh include Chuhimal ka Talab with chattri and haveli, and the Tomb of Sheikh Musa, besides a very impressive British period Tehsil building.
The tomb of Sheik Musa is an impressive architectural heritage of Nuh. Earlier called the Dargah of Hazrat Sheikh Musa, it is located in a beautiful setting at the base of the Aravalli range off the Tauru-Nuh Road. It is said that Sheikh Musa, the grandson of Mohammed Farid, had arrived here in search of peace and serenity. The complex was built for him and, as his fame grew, it was extended. One of the 12 gateways built around the dargah has shaking minarets that vibrate synchronously. The mosque mentions Hijri era 1142 (which corresponds approximately to 14th century) as the date of construction. The arches and gateways seem to be a later-period addition, possibly in the late 18th or early 19th century as reflected in their architectural style reflecting the Rajput – Mughal period cusped arches and Bangaldar chatri forms.
Chuhimal ka Talab and Chattri Complex is owned privately and, comprises a covered and an arcaded entrance block, two historic temples and a stepped waterbody surrounded with small octagonal platforms with domes. The complex also has an exquisite double-storeyed chattri of sandstone with floral inscriptions that was constructed later in the memory of Seth Chuhimal. The talab is in a fairly good state, clean and well-maintained by the owners, who are descendants of Seth Chuhimal. The talab has a perennial source of water from a nearby canal and reinstates the historical water systems of Nuh town. The main chattri at Chuhimal ki Chattri stands at a little distance away from the talab and the temples. It is made of red sandstone with two kinds of arches — cusped and trefoil, showing a blend of the 18th century Rajput architectural styles, which are typical of the Mewat region.
Decorative features on the main chattris are intricate with abundant use of floral and animal motifs in an aesthetic outlay. Infact, stylistically one can easily relate it to be inspired by the famous Moosi Rani ki Chatri at Alwar. The whole complex of Chuhimal ki Chatri has the potential of being developed as a picnic spot for the residents of the surrounding towns and as a weekend recreation for Gurugram and Delhi residents.
The British period Tehsil building built around 1872 reflects a colonial style of architecture at a grand scale and has been recently declared protected by the State Archaeology Department. Besides this rich repository of architectural styles from 14th -19th centuries, other nearby monuments around Nuh include the ruins of 18th century Ghasera fort, Kotla Mosque from 14th century and some medieval chatris and a well in the nearby village of Meoli.
(Shikha Jain is state convenor, INTACH Haryana Chapter and member of Heritage Committees under ministries of culture and HRD. She is co-editor of book ‘Haryana: Cultural Heritage Guide’ and director, DRONAH (Development and Research Organisation)