The Rohtak Town is situated 70 km North-west of Delhi on National Highway No-10. Its geographical setting is 80° 51' North latitude and 76° 38' East longitudes. It is situated in south-east part of Haryana. According to a local tradition the town was founded and named Rohtasgarh, by a Panwar king Rohtas at the site of Khokrakot mound. The historical development of the city is being in dealt in the stages namely-Ancient Period, The Mugal Period and The British Period.
The earliest mention of Rohtak is found in the Mahabharta . The Rohitika of Mahabharta has been identified with modern city of Rohtak. According to Puranic literature, the foundation of Rohtak was laid by Rohitashwa; the son of Harishchander, the 33rd descendent of Manu vaivasta, and its name is derived from Rohitpura, Rohitika and Rohita. It is also in record that Raja Rohtas, son of Raja Harishchander, founded Rohtak. The name Rohtak which is said to be a corruption of Rohtasgarh a name still applied to the ruined sites (also called Khokrakot) of two older cities, one laying immediately north of the present town and the other about 3 miles to the east. It is also recognized that Rohtak derived its name from the Roherra (Tacoma undulate) tree called Rohitak in Sanskrit. It, before the town came into existence, was the site of a forest of Rohitak trees and hence its name Rohtak emerged out. It is also found in Buddhist literature that Rohtak is an important town visited by lord Buddha. The Buddhist physician, Jivek also visited the town. It was the capital town of the Yaudheyas, who worshiped Kartikeya the generalissimos of the gods.
Rohtak enjoyed the status of Parganah headquarter during the Mughal period. In 1718 A.D., Farukh Siyar gave Rohtak to his minister Rukndin and again in 1732 A.D. it was given to the Nawab of Farukhnagar. In the disintegration of Mughal Empire, in 1782 A.D., Rohtak came under the influence of Raja of Jind. Ismail beg, in 1792 A.D., a military officer of Mahadeoji Sindhia, conquered Rohtak town. After the death of Ismail Beg, Rohtak was included in Sarkar of Hissar. Between 1785 A.D. and 1803 A.D., several parties possessed the area of Rohtak. In 1803 A.D., Daulet Rao Sindhia lost Haryana territory to East India Company.
The British period begins in 1803 A.D. In this year the Rohtak, with other possession of Sindhia, west of Yamuna passed on to the British East India Company by the treaty of Surji Aujungaon. The District of Rohtak was created in 1824 A.D. and city was made its headquarters and the political agent governed it. But in 1833 A.D., it came under the commissioner and remained a part of Delhi division up to 1857. The District was abolished in A.D. 1841 and was created again in 1842. In February 1858, Campbell was appointed deputy commissioner of Rohtak and the region of Haryana was detached from the north-western province and was merged with Punjab state. After 1858, some signs of development in the history of town appeared.
Every city also has some old buildings. With which the old history of that city is associated. Rohtak, famous for it's Reweri sweet, still has some remnants of architecture in the settlements of the ancient era, which still reminds us of the rich cultural heritage of that period. Old havelis and some religious places are prominent among those remains. Once the settlement of Rohtak city started from the high mound situated in the middle of the city. On which the fort was built in the topmost part and a small settlement of kutcha houses was built around it. Which today has taken the form of a huge city. Today the fort does not exist, but in its place, the Quila mohalla is inhabited. Apart from Quila Mohalla, Babra Mohalla, Sallara Mohalla, Kayasthan Mohalla, Pahara Mohalla, Sarai Mohalla, Mahajan Padav are among the oldest settlements of Rohtak city.
"Ch Chottu Ram's Haveli(Nilli Kothi) is one of the iconic buildinf of Rohtak city"
By the middle of the 20th century, these settlements had an increasing number of havelis, which by the next century have reached the verge of extinction forever. Apart from the Mughal and Rajput styles, the influence of the British period is clearly visible on the design of the havelis of Rohtak. The largest number of these were the havelis of wealthy Mahajans and Muslim Rajputs. Perhaps those rich people, influenced by the luxurious buildings of the Delhi Sultanate, must have built these havelis. After independence the Muslim population migrated to Pakistan and the Mahajans moved to big cities like Kolkata and Mumbai for business. Due to which these havelis went on turning into ruins in the last few decades. Today the beautiful decorations of about a dozen havelis stand as evidence of a glorious past.
Baba Hiralal ki Haveli, Seth Narsingh ki Haveli are famous among the havelis of Rohtak. The havelis of Gandharwal Jain and Kashiram, located in the Babra locality, were once known for their magnificent frescoes. Haveli of Rajput Muslims located in Babra mohalla is still one of the biggest havelis of Rohtak. Which has been used by the administration as a police station and other government offices since independence. Rohtak's Kesaiyon wala Chowk and Qila Road's market also saw signs of havelis till a few years ago, which have now been replaced by modern multi-storeyed shops. Even today, there are many Seth's havelis in the Mahajan Padav mohalla located on the railway road of Rohtak. Rohtak's oldest mansion, about 300 years old, is still standing in this mohalla. The wooden works windows installed on the haveli of Lala Jugal Kishore Kalanaur Wale located in the Railway Road market still attract the attention of passers-by.
A haveli is a traditional townhouse, mansion, manor house, palace or fort in the Indian subcontinent, usually one with historical and architectural significance. The word haveli is derived from Arabic hawali, meaning "partition" or "private space", popularised under the Mughal Empire, and was devoid of any architectural affiliations. Later, the word haveli came to be used as a generic term for various styles of regional mansions, manor houses, townhouse and temples found in the Indian subcontinent.
The architecture of these Havelis has many interesting features. These Havelis were accentuated with marble flooring, pillars, carvings, antique implements, and paintings found even in the tiniest of rooms. The marble flooring was done with striking Araish work which forges white marble with a near mirror finish. Their stepped terraces, multiple courtyards, well-defined chowks, lattices, intricately designed Jharokha, Tibara define the bygone era. The architecture style of the Havelis is distinctly curated, influenced by the local climate, social structures, customs, and traditions. Along with the customs and traditions, the Haveli architecture style also varied depending on caste and social structure along with the location.
The architecture of Havelis was focused to keep the atmosphere cool.
Courtyard: The courtyard or chowk represents an essential element in all such structures. The courtyard is an enclosed space from all four sides but is open to the sky allowing sunlight, air, and water.
Jharokha or Verandah: It is a protected place for shade, sun, light, and breeze. Jharokha is on the upper floors and is also meant to shelter from the rains. While a partly shaded or open place, Verandah is placed on the ground floor.
Facade: The closer-knit structures curtail uncovered external areas of haveli to sun and heat, drawing the cool air. Since there are tall buildings on either side, the air that passes through the facade from the street is much cooler than the air exposed to the sun. The front facade of the Havelis lets the cool air enter through it, circulates through the rooms and then escapes out from one of the courtyards carrying out the hot air along with it.
Walls and Roof: The walls and roofs constructed had good thermal resistance to protect from the hot climate. The small size openings on the outer face of buildings cut out the harsh sun and hot winds also help to enhance privacy.
Openings: An important feature of the Havelis in walled cities is they are full of openings. From a sequence of windows to intricately carved stone Jalis, these different sizes of openings allow the passage for cross ventilation.
Jalis: The latticework Jali blocks the direct rays of the sun and yet permits air to enter the room and is designed to grant privacy.
The courts were the centers of life in these Havelis. The front courtyards or chowks were used by men and were a public area. While the ones in the back were private usually for women and children. They used to spend their time there, hidden from the outsiders. The courtyard serves many purposes like a centre for various rituals and household activities and worship of tulsi plants. Another feature was the entrance doors of the Havelis. These wooden doors were huge enough and were only opened on special occasions. For other times, there were small openings attached from the large gate. These gates were also constructed to safeguard from invaders. These masterpieces still carry the age-old charm. One can’t miss the spectacular sight of these Havelis passing by the lanes of Rohtak. However, many of them are losing their elegance due to many socio-economic reasons.