The word monument was first used in the 13th century and is derived from the Latin word “monere” which means to remind. Indeed monuments are the most durable and significant reminders of our past. Each monument tells the story of its past. They stand and stare at our face and nudge us to visit them. They are the soul of a nation. Any country or city which neglects its monuments does so at the peril of erasing its past- for they depict the aspirations and heroic struggles of our forefathers and symbolize the triumph of their indomitable spirit over adversity.
Beneath the brick and mortar and inside their vaults, they encase our history which is conveyed through them to our future generations – we also learn about the culture, religion, traditions and the ethos of our past from them.
Narnaul’s history is a rich tapestry of the ancient , medieval and the modern. However, most of its surviving monuments are from the medieval and Mughal period. Given its strategic location, between Delhi and the princely state of Marwar in Rajasthan, Narnaul has always been a prized possession of warriors, fortune hunters and kings. -be they Afghan, Turk, Mughal or British. It reached the zenith of its prosperity during the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar when it became the district headquarter of Agra province and a royal mint town.
However, the tombs , mosques, serais, palaces, gardens, havelis, baolis and baradaris that adorn its architectural landscape are an expression of a tolerant and inclusive past and not one of conquest and domination alone.
The monuments of Narnaul are a testimony to the skill and sacrifice of its local artisans who under the watchful guidance of imperial architects built such magnificent structures of harmony and grace which were often used as inspirational blueprints for the later majestic buildings across the length and breadth of the great Mughal empire.
In today’s world, we have to preserve and protect our monuments and showcase them to our next generation as symbols of our tangible heritage. A little effort in this direction can hugely impact their sensibilities towards our rich past. As James Burke the famous British broadcaster and science historian once said “if you don’t know where you are from , you don’t know where you are”.
Winston Churchill said ” we shape our buildings , thereafter our buildings shape us”. This monograph is an earnest effort of the Department of Archaeology and Museums , Govt of Haryana to capture the history of Narnaul through its monuments. I sincerely hope it will rekindle interest and concern among all the stakeholders to preserve and protect these magnificent monuments- as a country which neglects its past has the emptiness of a barren continent and a city without monuments is like man without a memory.