City Monument – Ghamand Sarai Gateway, Gurgaon
A forgotten relic.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The softened weather-beaten stones on the top are jutting out towards the street as if they are overlooking a cliff.
This arched gateway in a quiet corner in Gurgaon’s otherwise boisterous Sadar Bazar is suffused with a kind of transient beauty that you fear might dissipate with just a slight increase in temperature.
“It has been standing here for hundreds of years,” says Budh Ram. The elderly gentleman runs a stall of men’s dhotis (second-hand) right under the gateway. He says that the building is called Ghamand Sarai. The name suggests that it might have been part of an inn built by some rich patron notorious for his ghamand, or arrogance. “It was most probably made during the musalmani time”—the dhoti seller is implying a vast period spanning across hundreds of years when the Delhi region was ruled by kings.
Mr Ram conjectures that the gateway might date to the days when “travellers going through this route would stay overnight in this sarai.”
Indeed, there’s another such sarai not far from here—the Kaman Sarai Gate has already been featured in these pages.
This evening, Ghamand Sarai is draped in silence except for the fluttering of pigeons in its higher reaches. A wood merchant has piled up his stacks of woods on one side of the gateway. Mr Ram informs that Ghamand Sarai also used to have a well.
Looking up at the roof with awe, he murmurs that the gateway has “no cement and no rods to support it… it is all stone.”
The structure was originally much larger but a part of it was demolished some decades ago to make way for the street it now overlooks. The portion that has been allowed to survive connects the Millennium City to its largely forgotten past.
A past landmark