India is a country enriched with its splendid cultural heritage and enigmatic beauty. One such pristine heritage village is nestled in the Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh – “Pragpur”. The village uplifts the ancient architectural marvel of ancient India and its historic grandeur. In the year 1997, Pragpur earned the name of “Heritage Village” from the state government, symbolizing the talents of the Indian craftsmen and the artists.
The foundation of Pragpur dates back to the late 16th to 17th century, established by the Soods community or the Kuthiala Soods. The Soods wanted to pay their tribute to Princess Prag Dei who belonged to the Jaswan family. The royal Jaswans was said to be the army of the Katoch dynasty and they were known for their valiant in resisting enemies from attacking the hills under the command of Princess Prag Dei.
The Sood community was originally merchants and traders with a mind of conducting commercial business. They built houses and mansions with mud plaster and slate roof, resembling the European architectural style.
The Beauty and Charm of Pragpur
The word “Prag” in the colloquial language essentially means “Full of Pollen”, aptly deserving the name due to the spectacular spring flower blooms. The village is an exemplary architectural marvel, adorned with astounding brickworks, the Rajasthani haveli style influenced windows, the shining sloping slate roofs and the winding curated lanes and streets.
The prominent among its historical and heritage structures is the old Judge’s Court. This grand mansion is now transformed into a luxurious resort. It was built by Bhandari Ram for his son the legendary Justice Sir Jai Lal. Sir Jai Lal was the second Indian judge of the Punjab High Court. His grandson Vijai Lal is the current owner of the mansion. It is a 2 storey building made of red bricks with a posh green lawn at the front and a huge 12 acre orchard surrounding it. The orchard is full of camphor, mango and litchi trees. You can also find the 300 year old cottage of the ancestors of Sir Jai Lal. The interiors of the cottage and the Judge’s Court consist of paintings and furniture in its huge spacious rooms.
The second remarkable building of Pragpur, often frequented by tourists, is the Butail Niwas. Built by Lala Buta Mal, the huge mansion is about 200 years old. You will be fascinated by the elegant carvings of wood and the exquisite metalworks. The unique part of the Niwas is the 6 similar apartments constructed surrounding a sunken courtyard. Lala Buta Mal had 6 sons, each apartment unit intricately built for each of them. The sunken courtyard is another interesting aspect of the grand mansion. It is always filled with water, used as a cooler for the apartments, especially during the summer season.
The interesting part of Pragpur is its Taal. The Taal is a tank which had been constructed sometime during 1880 to store the water from the natural springs, present adjacent to the place. It is a creation of the village’s Nehar Committee, who initially created the pipes with simbalwood and later changed to steel ones during the British era. The pipes were leveraged to drain water from the tank to the village.
The Other Attractions in the Village
There are several other attractions in the village, appreciated by the tourists visiting the place all around the year. One among them being the haveli or mansion of Lala Rerumal. The mansion has a large reservoir of water, a magnificent garden following the Mughal style and a beautiful terrace. The other incredible buildings and mansions worthy of visit, are that of Mela Ram Sood, Ram Bahadur Mohan Lal and many more.
Pragpur is well connected with the different cities of Himachal Pradesh and the other major cities of India by rail, road, and air. The nearest airport is at Gaggal and the nearest railway station is at Guler. You can avail cab and bus services, available in abundance, to reach the village comfortably.
Himachal Pradesh is considered to be the haven of beauty. But many of us miss out visiting the offbeat travel destinations in this wondrous state like the serene historical village of Pragpur. As Indians, we must endeavour to preserve this prestigious village for its exclusive architectural beauty and artworks. So do not forget to add Pragpur into your bucket list for Himachal Pradesh.