Thursday, January 7, 2016

Moti Paneli a historical village in Rajkot District

Moti Paneli a historical village in Rajkot District

We started at 3 pm, after attending a preparedness review meeting of 26 January Celebration at Veraval on 2/1/16. Before dusk, there was a chance to stop for a village visit. Suddenly I remembered my long pending visit of one historical village of Upleta Taluka of Rajkot district. I telephoned one known person in Junagarh and surprisingly, his Vevai was living in the same village and the house which I was searching for. The visit was planned. The old man was waiting for an hour at the bye pass. As soon as we reached Junagarh, his vehicle took over escorting job. It took us 120 kms to reach to the village, travelling via Dhoraji and crossing Porbandar highway. Finally, we have reached to the village Moti Paneli (Ta. Upleta, Dist. Rajkot), the last village of the Rajkot district bordering Jamnagar district. I have clicked the first photo of the entrance of the house at 6.09 pm.

The village has a population of 12,000. It was Nagar Panchayat once, when it's population crossed the figure 18000. But it became village panchayat again as many people migrated to towns for jobs. All castes of Hindus, the Sunni Muslims and Khojas live in the village. The Khojas are Aga Khan Ismaili. They are 'khoja', in search of truth. They are free from daily rituals of Islam, i.e., Namaz etc, as their Dharma Guru do it on their behalf. They participate in functions of both the religions. They carry Muslim and Hindu names in alternate generations.

The host family welcomed us and one person went to the village shop to buy fresh ganthiya and Jalebi the luxury of Saurastra for us. There are five shops in the village selling fresh ganthia for 20 hours a day. The shops closed only at 2 AM. The farmers either going to farms or returning from the farms eat ganthia. Some carry ganthia in farm. Ganthia of Saurasta in my mind a deep fried thick strands made from gram flour dough. But when we started eating this sizzling luxury with green and red chatnis, we couldn't stop. What a delicious make it was. You might have eaten ganthia of many places in the world, but fresh ganthia of Moti Paneli..kya kehna, la..jawab.

Oh..ganthia and cup of tea side tracked our mission of the visit. This is the house in which Shri Punjabhai was living in 1850. He was hindu lohana by caste and as the neighbours are makhecha, he might be Punjabhai Makhecha. There are three other  surnames of lohanas: nathwani, chag, rakheja, etc. He went to Karachi with his son Jinabhai for a business. As he was in leather business, he came in contact with Muslim traders and became Muslim in Karachi. But when he returned to his village after some years, though requested, his caste fellows didn't accept him back in Hinduism. He returned to Karachi as Muslim and finally settled there. As you know the son of Jinabhai became Quide Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder and first Governor General and father of the Nation of Pakistan.

Nearly 200 years old, their house in Moti Paneli is in its original shape and size at present. The successors hadn't changed anything major except one wooden column and some balcony panel damaged by the weather. The area of the house including the open space, is around 200 sqm, of which 100 sqm had been used for the construction. It is a ground plus one house of 4 rooms with two small kitchens beside. It seems two brothers were living together. The ground floor room was used as living room and the first floor as bed room. Approximately 6'x5' kitchen was enough to cook food on chullah for a small family. The open varanda (balcony) was used for general sitting and side passage was used to keep couple of animals. It is a typical traditional village house. The house belonged to the father and grand father of Mr. Jinnah.

It was occupied by Jain Banias later. The present occupant is a Patel, bought the house from the Bania Bhaichand Motichand some 50 years ago.

Hardly 72 kms away from the birth place of India's Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi; the house at Moti Paneli (Dist Rajkot) carries historical importance. Many people come and visit the house. The Patel Ponkhia family living in the house is a middle class family. Except they are living in the house of Quide Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, they know nothing about the family.

If you are passing through this route, do visit but don't miss eating 'Ganthiya' of Moti Paneli !

Punamchand
7 January 2016

1 comment:

  1. I knew Jinnah had gujaraGu roots. Never know moti paneli is his native village. Rajkot, to this day, has a sizeable khoja population.

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