Back to the soul of Sambhar

Sambhar, the salt town of Rajasthan, apart from being famous as a salt destination, can also take pride because of its dedicated denizens. Many of them may have moved out of this small town long back, but all have them a wistful heart, which beats only for their dear place. Rajasthan Post takes a trip to Sambhar and finds that “Out of sight is not out of mind’ for the people of this quaint town

The phrase goes ‘Every man is worth his salt’ but for this most famous salt town of Rajasthan, the phrase can go something like Sambhar is really worth its salt.

For it has produced umpteen sons and daughters who have not only made a name for themselves but also made this small town celebrated across the world. And what’s more, these denizens have not forgotten their roots and keep coming back again and again. For the smell and taste of salt not only fills them with nostalgia but it is a feeling that can never be taken away from them.

So Sambhar Lake, India’s largest inland bowl-shaped salt lake, just doesn’t fascinate migrating flamingoes alone. It equally draws its sons of the soil time and again.

The impressive congregation at the just concluded golden jubilee of Nagrik Vikas Samiti (NVS) is a case in point. Sambharites from Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and different parts of Rajasthan came together to recall their association with their native place and also how they could help to make it more famous and more scenic than it already is.

Some of the distinguished natives of Sambhar, who came to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the dedicated Nagrik Vikas Samiti
Some of the distinguished natives of Sambhar, who came to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the dedicated Nagrik Vikas Samiti

Successful businessmen, doctors, chartered accountants and a host of other professionals took time out from their busy schedule to be at their hometown to celebrate the occasion and strengthen their bonds with their native place.

The organization, which was formed with the noble commitment of raising funds to build a college in Sambhar Lake, has happily sustained itself over the years.

In the Sixties, there was no college in surrounding towns and many students, particularly girls were deprived of higher education since everyone could not afford to study in cities. The state government was willing to start a government college if the locals provided land and infrastructure.

While the land was provided by Kailash Chandra Mandhana, the grandson of noted salt businessman late Shiv Ballabh Mandhana and Janki Devi Mandhana, the hostel building was constructed by another renowned businessman late Hari Kishan Somani’s reputed son Raghunath Das Somani. He is also the present president of NVS.

The zeal was, however, not restricted to the rich and educated, many with meagre resources also came up for the cause. Known as the Government Shakambhar College, it is now successfully running post-graduate classes.

The Samiti has continued to offer its services in facilitating education, medical and vocational training. Anil Gattani, secretary NVS shared some of the future plans of the organization like starting a day-care centre for the elderly, a special medical fund to financially help locals unable to afford surgery expenses and a proposed operation theatre for cattle at the Gopal Gaushala.

Yet, Sambhar denizens feel there are still miles to go…

At the golden jubilee, the pravasis (non-residents) discussed how they could contribute to make Sambhar a flourishing tourist destination given the fact that present state government has already announced a sum of Rs 37.65 crores for infrastructure and bird watching deck in the lake area.

The inaugural ceremony of golden jubilee of Sambhar's Nagrik Vikas Samiti held in the last week of Oct
The inaugural ceremony of golden jubilee of Sambhar’s Nagrik Vikas Samiti in the last week of Oct

The chief guest at the inaugural function was successful business entrepreneur Jai Krishna Jajoo, who shares a seven generation old bond with Sambhar. He urged NVS members to organize spoken English and computer classes for youngsters. He even offered to renovate his ancestral house at Sambhar to facilitate NVS to run a good institute with a strong teaching base.

Sambharites, who have been away for many, many years, have such a strong bond with the place that they feel they have never been away. They keep coming back, many of them annually.

Octogenarian Raghunath Das Somani, moved to Kolkata almost 70 years ago but he makes sure to visit Sambhar at least twice a year. He is in fact, the most active link between Sambhar Club Kolkata and Sambhar and takes keen interest in activities of NVS and Seth Hari Kishan Somani Secondary Adarsh Vidya Mandir School he built in the name of his late father.

“Absence or distance makes the heart grow fonder” holds true for Sambharites. Former executive director of Reserve Bank of India Om Prakash Sodhani, Geeta Sodhani, Om Prakash Jopat, Arun Somani, Navneet Lahoti, Babu Lal Totla and many others moved from Sambhar long ago but being away has only made their heart grow fonder. There are others like Dr. Surendra Kala, Suresh Kalani, Rajesh and Hemant Acharya, Kailash Sharma, Brajesh Dangra and Dr Satyavan Sharma who maintain an active bond with their beloved town.

Dr. Satyan (Sam) Bansal, noted global management consultant, who’s worked with Fortune 100 companies for the past 45 years visits Sambhar every year with wife Sneh from San Diego, USA. So did late Professor Krishna Mohan Sharma of law, who visited Sambhar with unfailing regularity during his 40 year long stay from Sydney, Australia.

Those who are not able to come that often, Sambhar Clubs in Kolkata and Mumbai and Sambhar Samaj, Jaipur keep mini Sambhar alive in these places.

Sambharites at the ceremony, where all of them came together and recalled their association with Sambhar and how they could take it forward
Sambharites at the ceremony, where all of them came together and recalled their association with Sambhar and how they could take it forward

The happy contagion has touched some of the daughters-in-law alike who have a unique admiration for the salt town.

Saraswati Hurkat from Ahmedabad was so overwhelmed to be at the NVS function that she spontaneously penned a small song. She came to Sambhar as a bahu almost four decades back and has many fond memories to share– “Sambhar aana bahut hi accha lagta hai. Yahan ka prem hamen apni zameen se jode huye hai.”

Some of the youngsters like Anuj Kalani, Vinay Jopat and his brother, Vimal Totla, who are working or studying in metros and who joined the event with their parents also enjoyed going down memory lane. What they remembered most of their childhood spent in Sambhar was the taste of delicious Sambhar pheenis. With this homecoming now, they realise that even if they go far away, they would always take a bit of Sambhar and its salt along with them.

These lines by late Professor Krishna Mohan Sharma aptly sums of the essence of each Sambharites’ love and yearning for their native place.

“Rajasthan’s Utopia
Saccharine, Salty
This is Asli India
Sambhar Sparkling”

Sambhar, a tourist’s delight

Nearly 75 kilometers from state capital Jaipur, Rajasthan, Sambhar Lake has a lot to take pride in its roots. One of the few places in the state to have a varied experience of religion, spiritualism, ecology and culture, the former capital of Chauhan rulers is famous for the holy pond Devyani, said to be the mother of all pilgrim places—devyani sab teerthon ki nani.

The historic town draws its name from deity Shakambhari, whose temple is thronged by hundreds of devotees. People hailing from Sambhar make it a point to pay obeisance to the deity especially with their newborns and newly weds. The dargah of Sufi saint Husamuddin Chishti has a special significance so is saint Dadu Dayalji’s Chhatri where he is said to have meditated for over 12 years.

It has host of cultural activities, some of these very unique like the famour Nandkeshwar mela and tamashas on Holi, Janki Vivah, the fair at Shakambhari Mata temple to name a few.

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