Pragpur – The First Heritage Village of India

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Pragpur is a small village located in the panoramic Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is the country’s first Heritage Village. Pragpur was founded in the late 16th century by the Kuthiala Soods in memory of Princess Prag Devi of the Jaswan Royal family.

Pragpur is an ornamental village with unchanged shops, cobbled stone streets, old water tank, mud-plastered walls and slate-roofed houses. The narrow streets, lined with fort-like houses, havelis and villas are indicative of the aged charisma and remind much of enthralment and interest, especially among the foreign tourists. Due to its unique architecture and pristine beauty, the state government of Himachal Pradesh declared Pragpur as the country’s first .Heritage Village in December 1997. Prag means pollen in Sanskrit and pur means full of, so Prag-pur means full of pollen, which rightly describes the area when it is ablaze with blossoms in spring. Along with Pragpur, the nearby village of Garli is a part of the Heritage Zone.

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The residents of Garli-Pragpur look out the surrounding areas and atmosphere of the Heritage Zone. This place retains its own unique importance. The buildings are preserved by panchayats and they only advise on new constructions. A number of heritage buildings are now being restored by using modern facilities in them to make an easy and comfortable stay for tourists. With its unique beauty and location, Pragpur offers angling opportunities in the Beas nearby and a panoramic view of the snow-capped majestic Dhauladhars.

In the heart of village Pragpur there is a mansion called, The Judges Court, being run as a hotel by Mr Vijai Lal, who is the grandson of Justice Sir Jai Lal, the second Indian to become a Judge of the Punjab High Court. The Judge’s Court is a classified Heritage hotel, which offers an experience of the charm of good living in rural India. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, swelling hills and a rich eco-system .The Judges Court is a resort built in a typical Anglo-Indian style of architecture. It stands in 12 acres of greens, and is just a short walk from the village core and the Taal.

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Apart from the Judges Court, which was built in 1918, Mr Lal has restored his 300-year-old ancestral house. Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Heritage Village Pragpur provides expertise for preservation of heritage at the village. Due to its unspoiled looks it attracts number of tourists every year especially the foreigners. Today, also every effort has been made to restore the houses and havelis with the same wood and brickwork, to retain the old style and structure.

The ancient glory of the village has been protected and rejuvenated by the Vijai Lal. He has taken the initiative to safeguard the Heritage village. “Tourism promotion is a key factor, but at the same time, we must ensure that it does not lose its charisma and uniqueness, while providing employment to locals,” Mr Lal says with emphasis. To keep a check on this, a heritage committee has been constituted. Without the permission of the committee no construction activity is allowed within the heritage zone and recently village people have donated ten acres of land to the Himachal government for making Sanskrit Vidya Peeth here,” he added. A specific colour code will be followed and all buildings will be in consistency with the medieval ambience of the village.

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The other places of interest within the Heritage Village Pragpur are the Lala Rerumal Haveli built in 1931 by a Rais of Pragpur, which has a Mughal style garden, pleasure terrace and a large water reservoir. Butail Mandir, Chaujjar Mansion, Courtyards of the Sood Clans, an ancient Shakti Mandir and Atiyalas or public platforms are the pride of this heritage village. There are many silversmiths in the market selling traditional trinkets and curios. The village is known for its cottage industry. The inhabitants in the area are mostly crafts people weavers, basket makers, silversmiths, painters, musicians and tailors. You can purchase hand-woven blankets, shawls and hand-block printed clothes. The residents of Garli-Pragpur are hospitable. There is always a warm welcome waiting for tourists.

Pragpur is a home away from home for those who want to spend a solitary holiday in a traditional manner and to enjoy the ancient ambience of villages as they were centuries ago.

In a sea of modernity, Pragpur is an island of medieval splendour, an example of how we can preserve our heritage.

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