The Kundangar House

In mid-fifties, I was admitted to the kindergarten class of the Jabbari Cha’tihal – the name given to most of the government schools after education had been made compulsory.
The Kundangar House
Representational Pic

'Through the dim pageants of the years' as a poet writes, 'a wondrous tracery appears.' The pictures of martyrs' graves festooned with flower wreaths, and rose petals that splashed Friday newspaper made me see my 'childhood's home' and the martyrs' day of the past- a great pageant. Then on this day, the city was not curfewed. I remembered many houses adjacent to the precincts of historical gravesite crowded to capacity with onlookers- men, women,  and children.  It used to be a grand spectacle, with leaders of all shades laying flower wreaths on chiseled tombstones, men in khakis bowing down their guns in obeisance, blowing bugles at the flag hoisting ceremony and folk singers singing songs of chivalry and bravery. More than often the resistance leaders roared like lions on the lawns of the graveyard to the emotionally charged cheering crowds and enthusiastic spectators hanging like monkeys from the houses- mute witness to the ups and down of the resistance movement of the land. One of these houses- is history incarnate and I have lots of memories about it from my kindergarten class. 

In mid-fifties, I was admitted to the kindergarten class of the Jabbari Cha'tihal – the name given to most of the government schools after education had been made compulsory.  In front of long three story school building, there was tall, magnificent building, perhaps tallest in the locality a piece of the architectural beauty and elegance. It was not ornate latticed windows or imposing height of the building that attracted me as a kindergartener or a student of  awal (Class Ist) or do'oum (class). But it was the goings-on inside a long room on the ground floor of the house with its windows opening towards the main road and cobbled lane that aroused curiosity in me and other boys.  Three step stairs led to the chamber through an ornate deodar door that often remained latched. During the recesses at noon and four, we often climbed the steps to watch these men with necks bend dexterously striking at the yellow metal with little hammers and chisels. For some boys from the family being students at our school we had learned they were known as kundangar, but hardly anyone of us knew what it meant. It was later on, we learned, it was a family of master craftsmen that engraved most intricate designs on gold jewelry and emblazoned gold plaques – an art that is now dead. 

The elegant Kundangar house had overawed me during my three years at Jabbari Cha'tihal. But in Nowhatta locality there were many imposing gothic buildings, some looking like cathedrals. It was in mid-sixties, at a tailor's shop in our area I for the first time came to know Kundangar House was history incarnate for hosting many important meetings at the peak of the resistance movement in the thirties and forties of past century.   Then towering resistance leaders also visited the shop.  

To gather more information about the house and meetings held there, some days back I called on Haji Mohammad Amin Kundangar- an eyewitness to 1931 happenings:

"Many important deliberations and meetings during the freedom struggle were held in our house- some days the marathon sessions continued for days together. Thos days Molvi Abdullah used to be the central figure at the meetings who guided Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at every juncture- as a teacher would to a student." Amin Sahib, vividly remembers the day when he saw   Sheikh Abdullah for the first time. "One day Ghulam Mohammad Banday accompanied by a young man after disembarking from a boat at the Ghat of on Nallah Mar straight way came to our house. He introduced a lanky bony faced fellow with almost no flesh on his face as Master Abdullah. It was from our house that he left for the Jamia Masjid and made his debut speech."

For holding meetings during early periods of the freedom struggle the house is no less important than Mujahid Manzil. 

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