Rumble in Talagang

February 25, 2024

A journey through history and heritage

Rumble in Talagang


he journey to Talagang to attend the funeral of Professor Rafiuddin Hashmi was a solemn occasion marked by reflections on his scholarly legacy. Situated along the Chakwal-Rawalpindi Road, past Mandra, the first toll plaza on the GT Road en route from Islamabad to Lahore, this area holds significance for its geographic location and intellectual heritage. Prof Hashmi’s work, particularly his contribution to Iqbal studies, has garnered recognition worldwide. Talagang is also home to Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, another eminent contributor to Iqbal studies.

The journey along the dual carriageway that is Rawalpindi-Chakwal Road unveils a tapestry of historical significance. Cities like Jatli, Dhudyal and Kalar Syedan bear witness to a past steeped in conflict, notably the bloodshed involving Sikhs. Many landmarks in these cities serve as poignant reminders of the tumultuous events that shaped the course of history in the region.

The road from Chakwal to Talagang is currently undergoing construction, signifyingnot only physical development but also the evolving landscape of the area. Despite the sombre occasion, the journey through the historical corridor prompted contemplation on the connectedness of the past and present, scholarly pursuits and infrastructural advancements.

On exiting Chakwal one cannot help noticing the transition in the physical surroundings. The exit marks the end of the Potohar region. The vast Thal desert lies in front. Here, the cultural boundaries blur as the Seraiki language gradually supersedes the Potohari dialect. Seraiki-speaking communities view Talagang as an integral part of the province they have been demanding in recognition of their ethnic and cultural identity.

Rumble in Talagang

Seraiki is the predominant language spoken in Talagang. Along the roadside, bustling restaurants and food stalls cater to the truck drivers. They also enrich the vibrant atmosphere of the town. Over decades, Talagang has emerged as a hub of Pakistani truck art, renowned worldwide for its colourful and intricate designs that adorn vehicles traversing the highways. Despite its cultural prominence, Talagang’s administrative status remains in transition. It was designated a district during Parvez Elahi’s tenure as chief minister of the Punjab. However, an official notification of its new administrative status has yet to materialise.

In the pre-partition days, Talagang was a tehsil in the Jhelum district. Later, it was included the Attock and Chakwal districts. The city’s infrastructure reflects a commitment to cleanliness and order, which is uncommon in many Punjab cities. The streets are well built, the neighbourhoods are tidy. Almost every household in the city has a soldier or two serving in the armed forces. No wonder the British recognised Talagang’s people as a ‘martial’ race and the region as a place with a strong tradition of military service.

As Talagang continues to evolve and flourish, nurturing its sporting talent and preserving its cultural heritage is paramount for fostering a vibrant and thriving community.

Talagang and its people face their fair share of problems including limited access to potable water. As the town continues to evolve, addressing such issues will be crucial to ensuring the well-being and prosperity of its residents.

Talagang is also a microcosm of Pakistan’s rich cultural tapestry, where linguistic diversity, artistic expression and historical legacy converge. Its journey from a humble tehsil to a burgeoning district speaks of the resilience and adaptability of its inhabitants in the face of change. As Talagang navigates the complexities of modernisation and development, it remains a beacon of hope for communities striving to preserve their heritage.

The rich tapestry of Talagang’s history has some intriguing facets often obscured by mainstream narratives. Among its less-known treasures is the lineage of the Qutab Shahi Awan, a clan revered across the Punjab for their contributions to various spheres of life. However, the fact that Talagang is as the ancestral home of the Qutab Shahi Awans, tracing its roots to the esteemed Talha Awan, one of their revered elders, is often forgotten.

Rumble in Talagang

Dating back to the early 11th Century, Talagang has been a witness to the architectural prowess of Qutab Shah Ghaznvi, the progenitor of the Qutab Shahi Awans. In 1001 AD, Qutab Shah Ghaznvi erected the magnificent Awan Mehal in the heart of Talagang, a testament to the grandeur of a bygone era. Despite the passage of centuries, Awan Mehal has survived as a silent sentinel of Talagang’s illustrious past. Urgent government intervention is needed to thwart its impending decay.

Nestled amidst the serene landscape of Talagang lies the revered Sasi da Kaler, also known as the Al-Rara Mandir, perched atop a hill overlooking the tranquil banks of the Leti nullah. The sacred sanctuary has a storied past.

Before the partition, the custodianship of the temple rested in the hands of the venerable Vansram Hindu yogis. The Jhelum Gazetteer of 1904 says that the remnants of mud and sandstone dwellings adorned the temple’s environs, a poignant reminder of the vibrant community that once thrived in its proximity. However, the ravages of time have rendered these vestiges to obscurity, leaving behind only faint echoes of a bygone era.

The cultural heritage enshrined in Talagang’s hallowed precincts is a poignant reminder of the region’s rich tapestry of traditions and legacies. Authorities must heed the clarion call for preservation and restoration and ensure that these invaluable relics endure. As custodians of our shared history, it is our collective responsibility to safeguard the sanctity of Talagang’s cultural heritage, lest it fade into oblivion amidst the relentless march of time.

Malik Tariq, the tehsil sports officer, talked about some illustrious sports personalities and writers hailing from Talagang, a testament to the city’s rich legacy. Among the most notable people were Air Marshal Noor Khan and Col Muhammad Khan, whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the annals of history. Author Satya Pal Anand too traces his origins back to Talagang.

Rumble in Talagang

Malik Tariq lamented the absence of dedicated coaching facilities and grounds for the youth. The lack of access to quality facilities, he said, was a significant impediment to the city’s sporting aspirations. Despite producing national as well as international award-winning athletes, notably for the armed forces teams, such as Honorary Captain Malik Muhammad Younas and Honorary Captain Malik Muhammad Nawaz, Talagang has struggled to carve a niche for itself in sports. Tariq blames inadequate infrastructure and support for this failure.

Talagang attracts Sikh visitors from India, drawn to its storied past and cultural allure. Malik Tariq stressed the imperative for government intervention to preserve Talagang’s rich legacy and heritage sites.

Amidst the tapestry of sporting activities that adorn Talagang’s landscape, bull racing is the dominant spectacle. As Talagang continues to evolve and flourish, nurturing its sporting talent and preserving its cultural heritage is paramount for fostering a vibrant and thriving community.

Tahir Malik is an analyst.

Hassan Zaidi teaches at IIUI

Rumble in Talagang