The lake of the sun {Art & Culture}

Context

This article talks about the story behind the ancient site where the annual Surajkund Mela is held

Every year in February, a grand and spectacularly colourful crafts fair, the Surajkund Mela, is held in Faridabad, Haryana

History

  • Surajkund (translation: the lake of the sun) is the site of one of the oldest-surviving monuments of Delhi, the city that was once called Dhillika.
  • The Tomar dynasty ruled from the 8th to the 11th century over the Delhi-Haryana region. Though their royal residence was in Lal Kot in Mehrauli, they built a city, a reservoir, and some fortifications in the area known even today as Anangpur or Anekpur after the first Tomar ruler, Anangpal I.
  • It was Suraj Pal Tomar, in the 10th century, who built the huge water reservoir along with a sun temple on the western bank. (Anangpal Tomar II was succeeded by his grandson Prithviraj Chauhan. The Delhi Sultanate was established in 1192 after Prithviraj Chauhan’s defeat in the Battle of Tarain by the Ghorid forces.)

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Muslim social reformer and educationist, says the reservoir was constructed in 686 AD. However, Alexander Cunningham, the founder of the Archaeological Survey of India who excavated many of India’s ancient and medieval built heritage, places it in 1061 AD. When it was built, this area must have been in the wilderness, far away from Lal Kot. As Suraj Pal worshipped the sun, this reservoir was perhaps his dedication to the sun god.

The reservoir is built against the backdrop of the Aravalli hills, and is constructed in such a way as to form a semicircular-shaped embankment. It is designed in the shape of a rising sun with an eastward arc. Circular steps lead to the bottom, which is now dry.

More about Surajkund Mela

Surajkund International Crafts Mela from 2nd February onwards, a celebration of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage.

Occupying a place of pride on the international tourist calendar, more than a million visitors throng the Mela during the fortnight including thousands of foreign tourists. The Surajkund Mela is unique as it showcases the richness and diversity of the handicrafts, handlooms and cultural fabric of India, and is the largest crafts fair in the world.

The Mela is organized by the Surajkund Mela Authority and Haryana Tourism in collaboration with Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture and External Affairs. For the 32nd Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2018, the state of Uttar Pradesh has been chosen to be the Theme State. At least 20 countries and all the states of India will be participating in the Mela.

A large number of renowned national and international folk artists and cultural groups present-day performances at both the Chaupals, the open-air theatres, located in the Mela premises. Also, enthralling cultural evening programmes are held at the main Chaupal during each of the Mela evenings. The Mela is indeed a custodian of the heritage crafts involving the use of traditional skills that are fading away due to cheap machine-made imitations, and a special section is earmarked for showcasing of these heritage crafts.

The multi-cuisine Food Court provides ethnic cuisines from all over the world, which are immensely popular with visitors. There are designated places for amusement, adventure sports and joy rides to make it a must visit event for the young.


Source: The Hindu

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