January/February  2006




Jan. / Feb. 2006 Contents 

 Real Issues
 Andaman Tribes that
 survived the tsunami
 maybe 'wiped out'


 Basmati - King of rice


 Worst health abuses

 Bhera - the town that
 time forgot


 7 Contemporary
 artists of Nepal


 Afghan teenager is
 Miss England


 the craft shop

 the print gallery

 the art gallery


 Between Heaven and Hell

  Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in









   about us              back-issues           contact us         search             data bank


  craft shop

print gallery

Page  1  of  2

Bhera – The Town that Time forgot ………..

Part I

[ By Bherochi ]

The surreal silence of a street in Bhera

"Bhera phulaan da sera,

Phul gai murjah,

Bhera rakh laya Khuda ……

Bhera , a garland of flowers

The Flowers wilted ,

God kept Bhera ……

[ old Bhera folk saying ]

Buried , Bypassed , Bhera is a study of the Blues of Time forgotten , :

Bhera is an incredible town; so too are its people. Bhera is a town that time forgot, bypassing it and burying its memories. It is a study of an ageing classy urban elegance clothed in the blues of time. Like the cities of Samarkand & Bokhara which declined due to the discovery of sea routes, Bhera too fell victim to a British Imperial order which brought a complete halt to the invaders from the west.

L-R: The gurudwara with its minaret at Bhera; the gurudwara sign; the old Police Station - or what is left of it

Cunningham identified old Bhera [on the right bank of river Jhelum] with the Palace of Sopeithes, where Alexander met his Greek forces. Later the great Chinese traveller, Fa Hien, mentions Bhera in his accounts and Babar in his memoirs. The Greek historian Arrian in his "Anabasis" narrates the palace of Sopeithes. Recent excavation were carried out by by Dr M. Salim of Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. The ancient Bhera mounds are known as Barrian. Antiquities of Iron Age, Achaemenian (553-330 BC), Greek (321-184 BC) and Mauryan periods have been discovered in an excavation from the city of Bhera. The pottery of 800-600 BC has gray ware, red ware and buff ware with red painted designs. A terracotta figure of an elephant has been collected. It is said that when Alexander entered Jhelum Valley, young maidens with shell bangles were filling their pitchers with water from wells and river Jhelum.

During the 1500s it lay on a trade route as well on the route of invaders from Greece, Central Asia and Afghanistan as they thundered down from the northwest following the natural contours of the land on their horses. Alexander crossed the river Jhelum [meaning cool water in Greek] near Bhera. Babar visited Bhera in his first foray in February 1519 and mentions it in his famous Tuz-ke Babari. Sher Shah Suri built its eight gates and its famous mosque. The name "Bhera" stems from the word ‘bahu-rah’ (multiple roads) because of many roads that led to the town. The other version is that Bhera stands for a safe, protected place from the Sanskrit "bhay-hara", meaning ‘that which dispels fear.’

Bhera lies at the end of the south branch of the old North Western Railway, now Pakistan Railways, off the main Gujrat/ Lahore to Peshawar line. From its old Sikh Gurudwara minaret built in quasi-Italian style architecture, one can see [better with binoculars] to its right, the Jhelum river or whatever is left of it after the building of the Mangla Dam in 1960s. Across the Jhelum river rises the great Potohar plateau and the Salt mines of Khewra, the second largest in the world [Kracow in Poland being the largest]. The salt mines stretch from Khewra to Kalabagh on the Indus river about 186 miles long. [An electric train takes you on a tour inside these mines, which have 17 levels and produce 360,000 tons annually]. A few miles north of these salt mines are the famous Katas Raj Temples and the famous Shiv Temple, now under repair. Katas Raj complex consists of two semi-ruined temples of the Hindu Shahi period (AD 650-950). Beautifully carved, it conforms to the best in temple architecture. Katas Raj is also held sacred by Hindus for another reason. Legend says that the five Pandava brothers, heroes of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, stayed here for four out of the 14 years that they spent in exile. Further north, about another 40 miles north, is Taxila the greatest Buddhist university city

 [ see the following links : And ]

Today, Bhera nestles in the vistas of the Jhelum river, the Khewra salt mines and the famous Kinow Mandarin and Orange Groves/Orchards of the Sargodha District. About 500 years ago this area was heavily wooded and full of wild game [deer, nilgai, urial] . Emperor Jahangir used to hunt here to the tune of 500 deer in a day.

About 10 miles away lies the village of Mong known as Nicae [victory] in Greek, where Alexander the "Great" is supposed to have defeated King Porus in 326 B.C. Porus was a Vaid Mohiyal and the Mohiyals claim that Alexander was on the receiving end of the battle. Alexander’s horse Bucephalus lies buried in the nearby town of Jalalpur across on the western side of Jhelum river. It was killed in action by the son of king Porus according to the District Gazetteer of Jhelum – 1904 [published by Sang-e-Meel , Lahore 2004 ].

A typical street in Bhera

Bhera was an important trading outpost on the road to Kabul, and a 'taksal' (mint) during the reign of Ranjit Singh [1780-1839]. Twenty miles to its north west lies Chillianwala. Here the last big battle was fought where the Sikhs on January 13,1849 beat the British Forces, but failed to drive home their advantage [ won the battle but lost the war]. One can still visit and see the British monument where the British dead are listed.

Tilla Jogian [founded 100 B.C.], or the Hill of the Yogis [about 1000 meters high] lies about 50 kilometers North of Bhera. This is where the Kanpatha Jogis [ Jogis who pierced their earlobes] founded by Guru Gorakhnath have left behind a monastery. Tilla Jogian is mentioned in the epic love poem "Heer Ranjha" of Waris Shah, when Ranjha spent his time on the rebound, sublimating his love & passion in the spiritual world. In the quiet seclusion of Tilla Jogian, Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, spent 40 days to complete the ‘chilla’, worshipping his lord. For the Burrah Sahibs or British rulers of Punjab, Tilla Jogian served as a summer resort. The deputy commissioner of Jhelum avoided the searing summers of the Punjab plains and took refuge at Tilla Jogian. In a great ironic twist of history, the area near Tilla Jogian has become the launch pad for Pakistan army missiles.


next page




Copyright © 2000 - 2006 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.