Sasaram has been fortunate enough to be associated with many big names. The names of Shershah and Jagjivan Ram are at the top.
It is the place where Shershah, one of the most reformist emperors of India lies buried under a tomb erected in an equally unique water reservoir. As we know, a unique land settlement reform came under his rule in India before Akbar, the great. Shershah is also credited with building the Grand Trunk Road that covered all the way from Dacca to Peshawar or Kabul.
One from Bihar and that too from a village, Pipra (Mardan Rai ka) near Sasaram, its historical association with Shershah inspired me since my childhood. My grandfather narrated a miracle story of the tank in which the Shershah tomb has been built. According to my grandfather, he used to have his lodging in Sasaram, when he was one of the few students from our village in its only high school. At that time, the tank was the main source of drinking water for the residents of Sasaram. The women of Kanhar or Kamkar caste used to carry the multi-layers of pitchers with water in it drawn from the tank from the bank without getting into it in morning and evening. Bathing in the tank was strictly prohibited.
One hot summer evening, an old hermit came wandering and got into the tank to cool himself. After getting the information, a constable came in and took him to police station. It was British rule at its best. The inspector couldn’t take him to court for bail, as the court was having summer timing working up to noon only. The hermit pleaded a lot, but the inspector was scared to take the law in his hand. The hermit got angry, and cursed, ‘ You are punishing me for my crime of entering the water body used for drinking. But hereafter none will be able to use the water in the tank for drinking.’ The inspector didn’t take that seriously. Next day, the hermit was presented to the English magistrate. He warned but freed him after hearing the honest statement of the hermit. The hermit went out and disappeared. Very soon the water got greenish and undrinkable. The magistrate ordered for cleaning the tank and filling with fresh water from the incoming canal. But the trouble couldn’t be cured. The women and men shifted to other tanks. My grandfather believed in the story and recorded the same in his diary too. I don’t know if I should believe the story.
Every time I have passed through Sasaram, I try to visit the tomb. It is so gigantic. Perhaps, my grandfather had shown me this tomb for the first time, when we were going to Calcutta from the village. He impressed upon me how at the time of construction some four hundred or more years ago, the huge stone pieces forming the walls would have been lifted so high in its places during construction. Over the years, the government’s tourism or the archeological department has not done anything worth the monument deserves. The surrounding all around the tomb and tank could have been developed in a manner that could have enhanced the utility of the place for the locals as well as for the tourists. We keep on talking about ‘the shining India’ and ‘Incredible India’, but don’t do anything. I got a chance to go around and take some photographs of the Shershah’s tomb this time too when I reached Sasaram from Varanasi by road on April 20 en route to Patna where we were going to attend a family marriage. The driver of ‘Indica’ that I had courtesy Gehlot my friend from Noida agreed to take me around before going to the hotel. Before Advocate brother, Surendra Tiwari could reach the hotel we had made the trip. It was the first time that I was staying overnight in a hotel room because of my wife Yamuna’s physical problems. Bypass for the Golden Quadrilateral passing through Sasaram is still not ready. The traffic moves through the old GT Road going through the town, and the road must be nightmare for the crawling vehicles of all sorts.
Sasaram was the constituency of Babu Jagjivan Ram and now his daughter, Meira Kumar. I don’t know ‘why’ but none of them has done anything for furthering this historical town and this great monument. They visited the place and the region only for getting elected as MP and managed the win through local agents with shellfish motives or goons. Some fanatics have built a temple in one corner. The road around the tomb is in poor shape and full with filth. The tank cools now many a street urchins in the hot summer. While going around this huge monument, perhaps the most attractive one after Taj Mahal from Mediaeval India, many a times has to put a handkerchief on one’s nose.
Why can’t Sasaram be taken up for status of a world heritage town with many important historical and mythological sites in near vicinity all-round and its great history?
Why can’t Meira Kumar request her colleague of her own part and minister, Ambika Soni to take care of this unique monument through tourism ministry? Why can’t she use some her MP fund to develop the headquarter of her constituency?
Can Sasaram expect some improvements through its local bodies, and through the DM and SP who are the kings of this sleepy district headquarter?