About Sambhal

Introduction to SambhalThere is one aspect that is common to most small towns in India; the smaller the town, the bigger its history. Sambhal, located in Uttar Pradesh, is one such small town, that is steeped in history and brimming with cultural diversity.

Now home to a vast Muslim population, it was once the chosen capital of the great Hindu emperor-Prithviraj Chauhan and is also believed to be his final place of rest. In 2012, Sambhal district was created which has three subdivisions or three tehsils: Sambhal, Chandausi and Gunnaur.

A multi-cultural hub, Sambhal is home to countless legends and is said to have been a town that originated during the Satyayug.

Sambhal is also infamous for having been the town with the lowest literacy rate in India according to the 1991 census but has since seen a marginal improvement in literacy statistics according to the 2011 census.

The town seems to have come a long way since the departure of the Mughals who are said to have invaded the place in the late 16th century. Modern day Sambhal is a confluence of Hindu and Muslim culture that resonates with impeccable fraternity, where the two sects co-exist with mutual respect and share great admiration for one another.

History of Sambhal

Sambhal has a rich history and has been home to several rulers and emperors. From the Lodi’s to the Mughal’s, right from the 5th century BC and spanning up to the 16th Century, it has been under the rule of one emperor or the other.

During 5th century BC, Sambhal was home to the Panchal rulers and was subsequently a part of king Ashoka’s empire.

During the 12th century, Prithviraj Chauhan, Delhi’s last Hindu ruler is said to have engaged in two fierce battles here which were both fought against Ghazi Sayyad Salar Masud, who was the nephew of the ruler of the Ghazni empire-Mahmud Ghazni. Chauhan gained victory over the latter in the first war and vice versa is said to have occurred in the second war. There nevertheless is no circumstantial evidence to prove the same and is widely regarded as a legend.

Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim sultan of Delhi, seized Sambhal and included it under his empire. That was in the early 14th Century and subsequently, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, another sultan of Delhi, raided the town of Sambhal as one of the Hindu rulers from there was responsible for the killing of several of his men. He, therefore, administered a Muslim rule in Sambhal to try and vanquish all of the Hindu ruler’s forces and enslave him for the rest of his life.

In 15th century BC, Sikandar Lodi, the second ruler of the Lodi empire, declared Sambhal as one of the capitals of his vast empire and it remained that way for four long years.

After the previously mentioned empires had collapsed, it was then the turn of the Mughals to stake a claim in the offerings of Sambhal as a place that was most suited to be the capital of their empire.
Babar, the first Mughal ruler constructed the first Babri Masjid in Sambhal which is to date considered to be a historic monument. He later on made his son Humayun the governor of Sambhal and Humayun in turn passed on the reigns to his son Akbar. Sambhal is said to have flourished under the Akbar rule but subsequently deteriorated in popularity when Akbar’s son Shah Jahan was made the in-charge of the city.

Religious Significance

Jama Masjid in Sambhal

Although said to be heavily populated by Muslims, Sambhal is also much influenced by Hindu culture and significance. It’s a place where Hindus and Muslims co-exist peacefully. Many mosques are part of modern day Sambhal with some even dating back to the 14th and 15th century.

It is a popular hindu belief that lord Vishnu will adorn his 11th and last Avatar or incarnation here, at the end of Kalyug and be known as Sri Kalki. There is a famous temple present here that is dedicated to Kalki Vishnu where he is represented as being on a white horse and wielding a sword in the air.

A town so rich in history, also celebrates the rulers that once ruled this very land. The Dhwaja and Neza Sela are two separate events that are celebrated here, where the former is to celebrate the victory of Prithviraj Chauhan over Sayyad Salar Ghazi during their first battle and the latter is to celebrate the victory of Sayyad Salar over the former, during the second war.

Although there is no proof of this war to have ever taken place, the people from this town believe in this legend and it just goes to show how even unverified history can have such a big influence on contemporary lifestyle.

Arts and Crafts in Sambhal

Sambhal is very famous for its bone and horn crafts. Animal bones and horns are used as raw materials to create utility and showpieces and most of these are exported as there is a big market for this type of art, abroad. From bangles to photo frames to even furniture, craftsmen and sellers of this particular type of art run into the hundreds, and no trip to Sambhal is complete without buying a bone or horn showpiece.

Horns are used to not make art alone but are also used to make a type of natural fertilizer for plants. Since chemicals are known to be harmful, the farmers here prefer to use this natural type of fertilizer thus creating a market and encouraging its industries.

Sambhal also makes artifacts from wood, metal, coconut and bronze. Intricately carved wooden furniture is one of the city’s most famous of artworks.

The handloom industry is also quite renowned here and women are employed in clusters to mass produce calico printed apparel and clothing.

Oil and Medicine Trade in Sambhal

Sambhal is one of the largest producers of Mentha or Menthol oil in India. It’s a big business and several manufacturers have industries set up that extract and manufacture oil from the Mentha or spearmint plant. This oil is mostly used for therapeutic purposes and is also available in essential oil form. These oils are used in perfumes and medicines and exported to other countries all over the world.

Sambhal is also famous for its unani medicine. Several hakims prepare traditional medicines using tried and tested age old ingredients and these medicines have a big customer base in foreign countries and are therefore exported. They are renowned for their unparalleled expertise and for creating treatments for conditions that even modern medicine does not have an answer to.

Festivals in Sambhal

Since Sambhal is heavily populated with muslims who constitute 70% of the total population, muslim festivals are celebrated with much fervor. During Muharram, the entire town comes alive and participates in the azadari where religious gatherings and processions are organized and all people irrespective of religion, caste and creed take part.

As was mentioned earlier, the Dhwaja and Neza festivals are also celebrated with equal enthusiasm every year by the locals.

Tourist Places in Sambhal

Kalki Mandir in Sambhal

  • Sambhal is rich in history and the various rulers who once ruled this land have left behind quite a bit of monuments which have now turned into tourist attractions. Temples in Sambhal are very popular and each one has a certain degree of history attached to it. The tourist spots are as follows.
  • Kalki Vishnu Mandir-The sri kalki vishnu mandir present in Sambhli is said to be the only such temple in India that is dedicated to the last incarnation of lord Vishnu. Several devotees flock to this temple every year as they believe that lord Vishnu will be born here at the end of this current era known as Kalyug.
  • Surajkund Temple
  • Manokamna Temple-Contains Baba Mani Ram’s Samadhi
  • Old Forts
  • Kali Mandir
  • Chamunda Mata Mandir
  • Jama Masjid-This mosque was built by MirHindu Beg in 1528 and was commissioned by Babar himself and is said to be the first mosque to have been built by him. He is also said to have placed the first foundation stone of this mosque. The mosque is a architectural masterpiece.
  • Tota maina kabr-This famous tourist spot is enshrouded in mystery. It is an unoccupied tomb that has calligraphy present on it and is popularly known as the Tota Maina Kabr. Many historians have failed to know of its real origins and who was responsible for it.
  • Pond (talab) in Miyan Sarai
  • Chakki ka paat-Chakki ka paat refers to stone grinder that was used in the olden days to grind foods and was the only method available before the advent of modern dar grinders. These instruments are generally extremely heavy as they are made entirely of stone and require a lot of effort to be lifted. But one acrobat from Sambhal who is known as Nut, is said to have jumped high with the chakki ka paat in his hands and placed it at a height of 50 feet above ground level

Geography of Sambhal

Sambhal lies to the North West (upper left corner) of Uttar Pradesh and South West of Moradabad. It is 158 Kms from Delhi and 349 Kms from Lucknow. Sambhal’s soil is extremely suitable for the mint plant and thus they specialize in growing these plants with spearmint being extensively grown in order to extract its oil.

Climate in Sambhal

Sambhal has tropical climate where temperatures can reach as high as 35 degrees in summers. Average summer temperature is 32 degrees and is at its peak in the month of April. Winters here can be especially chilly with temperatures reaching as low as 7 degrees celsius. Average winter temperature here is 8 degrees which is common during the month of December.

Sambhal receives average rainfall throughout the year with heavy rains occurring in the month of August with average rainfall being 200mm.

How to reach Sambhal

Map of SambhalSambhal can be reached by means of road from Delhi and Lucknow. Moradabad airport can be utilized to first reach Moradabad and then its a 45 minute road journey to Sambhal. Indira Gandhi International airport-Delhi is the closest international airport. Flights from major metropolis operate to and from Moradabad.

Basic data of the town of Sambhal

Time zone:IST
Area:16 km²
Elevation:193 m (633 ft)
Population:221,334 (2011 Census)
Density:Density:14,109.5 inh./sq.km
Official Languages-Hindi and Urdu.

• Pincode-244302
• Telephone-+91 5923
• Vehicle-UP38

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