The history of the Town of Kapurthala goes back as early as the 11th Century when it's said to have been founded by Rana Kapur, a scion of the ruling house of Jaisalmer (Rajasthan). The present royal family of Kapurthala is descended from Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a contemporary of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah, who by his intelligence and bravery made himself the leading Sikh of his day. At one time it held possessions on both sides of the Sutlej, and also in the Bari Doab. The cis-Sutlej estates and scattered tracts in the Bari Doab were forfeited owing to the hostility of the chief in the First Sikh War; but the latter were afterwards restored in recognition of the loyalty of Raja Randhir Singh during the mutiny of 1857, when he led a contingent to Oudh which did good service. He also received a grant of land in Oudh, 700 m² in extent, yielding a gross rental of 89,000. In Oudh, however, he exercises no sovereign powers, occupying only the status of a large landholder, with the title of Raja-i-Rajagan.
Raja Sir Jagatjit Singh, K.C.S.I., was born in 1872, succeeded his father in 1877, and attained his majority in 1890. During the Tirah expedition of 1897-98 the Kapurthala imperial service infantry took a prominent part. The territory is crossed by the railway from Jalandhar to Amritsar. The state has a large export trade in wheat, sugar, and cotton. The hand-painted cloths and metal-work of Phagwara are well known. The town of Kapurthala is approximately 20 Kilometers from Jalandhar.
Places of Interest
The City of Kapurthala has several buildings and places of interest linked to its local history such as the Sainik School (Formerly Jagatjit Palace), Shalamar Bagh (Gardens), District Courts buildings, Moorish Mosque, Panch Mandir ("Five Temples"), Clock Tower, State Gurudwara, Kanjli Wetlands, Guru Nanak Sports Stadium, Jagjit Club, and the NJSA Government college.
Sainik School (Jagatjit Palace)
It has the much renowned Sainik School, formerly known as Jagatjit Palace, is housed in what was formerly the palace of the erstwhile Maharajah of Kapurthala state, HRH Maharajah Jagatjit Singh. The palace building has a spectacular architecture based on the Palace of Versailles and Fontainebleau spread over a total area of 200 acres. It was designed by a French architect M. Marcel. Its magnificent Durbar Hall (Diwan-E-Khas) is one of the finest in India and the Plaster of Paris figures and painted ceilings represent the finest features of French art and archiecture. The construction of this palace was commenced in 1900 and completed in 1908.
The Elysee Palace was built by Kanwar Bikrama Singh in 1862. This magnificent building with its imposing and elegant facade has now been converted into MGN School of Kapurthala.
A spectacular example of the secular history of Kapurthala is the Moorish Mosque, a famous replica of the Grand Mosque of Marakesh, Morocco, was built by a French architect, Monsieur M Manteaux. Its construction was commissioned by the last ruler of Kapurthala, Maharajah Jagatjit Singh and took 13 years to complete between 1917 and 1930. It was then consecrated in the presence of the late Nawab of Bhawalpur. The Mosque's inner dome contains decorations by the artists of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore. The Mosque is a National Monument under the Archeological Survey of India. It was one of the monumental creations in the State during the premiership of late Diwan Sir Abdul Hamid Kt., CIE,OBE.It was his keen interest with Maharaja's blessings that the mosque was completed. Its wooden model lay at the entrance of the Lahore Museum
Jagatjit Club is an elegant building situated in the heart of the city based on the Greek Revival style of architecture. Its design loosely resembles the Acropolis of Athens and features the Coat of Arms of the erstwhile ruling family of Kapurthala with their royal motto "Pro Rege et Patria" (For King and country) on its pediment. The building has been used for a variety of purposes since it was constructed, it was used as a church in the early nineteenth century, as a cinema hall in the 1940s and now houses a local club. it is also known as jagjit club
Shalimar Gardens are situated in roughly the centre of the city and provide an escape from the hustle-bustle of the city. The Shahi Samadhs (The Royal Cenotaphs) in the Shalimar Gardens emphasise the traditions of its ruling Dynasty. Marble obelisks inside the red sandstone Chambers, are Memorials to the former Rulers and their families. Nearby, a grand structure built in 1880 and built on a marble plinth, houses the Samadhs of Maharajas Kharak Singh, Jagatjit Singh and Paramjit Singh.
Gurudwara Ber Sahib
The famous Gurudwara Ber Sahib is situated at Sultanpur Lodhi, which is one of the four sub-divisions (Tehsil) of Kapurthala. This historic site is of great importance to Sikhism as it is said to be the very place where the First Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak, spent 14 years of his life and attained enlightenment whilst bathing in a small rivulet, the Bein. The place derives its name from a Ber tree (Zizyphus Jujuba) said to be planted by Guru Nanak himself and under which he first uttered the Mool Mantra or the "Sacred Word or Revelation" of Sikhism.
Kanjli Wetlands, on the western Bein rivulet at the outskirts of the city, has been included in under the Ramsar Convention. It is a a very popular site for bird watching and boating. An enormous project is currently being undertaken here to develop it into a destination for bird watching replete with modern day facilities. Sadly the Kanjli Wetlands have been in a state of neglect lately with little attention being given by the authorities to the condition of flora and fauna and it's surrounding infrastructure.
Pushpa Gujral Science City
In 2005, the Governor of Punjab, Lt. Gen (retd) S.F Rodrigues, inaugurated the Pushpa Gujral Science City or simply known as the Science City. A joint venture between the state government and the Government of India,located on Jalandhar-Kapurthala, Highway. This project has been designed as an institution of excellence, for meeting both educational and recreational purposes. Despite being a recent development, it is now fast promoting itself as a tourist attraction, providing facilities for an informal science education through a more recreational aspect. Some of the attractions range from purely recreational adventure sports such as rock-climbing, aero-ballooning, boating to demonstrating learning in the field of nano-technology, micro-machines, levitation and genomics etc. Pushpa Gujral Science City is also coming up as Entertainment Capital having 23 meter diameter Dome Theatre showing Large Format Films (IMax) on 10 times larger screen than ordinary cinema hall screens. Other world class attractions are Flight Simulator, 3D Cinema, LASER Show, Earthquake Simulator and more than 200 interactive exhibits on Physics, Mechanical, Optics, Health, Space, Aviation, Fun Science etc.