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Visit to Kotla Sultan Singh

By Deepak Kirpalani

Kotla Sultan Singh

Kotla Sultan Singh

My trip to Punjab last week would have been incomplete without embarking on a pilgrimage of a different nature. To the birthplace of a man whose conduct was as saintly as his singing, divine. In a career that spanned over 36 years, Rafi Sahab sang his heart out in 5000 songs. For a long time I was given to understand that Kotla Sultan Singh was in Pakistan. Fortunately not! It is the fourth village to the east after crossing Majitha, about 24 km north of Amritsar.

The first man we met directed us to Gurbir Singh Samra standing in a group across the road. Gurbir is a teacher at the local primary school where Rafi Sahab studied till class IV. We visited his classroom and the library that displays a chart on the school’s most well-known alumnus.

The Samra residence stands on the plot where Rafi Sahab’s house once stood. Rafi Sahab moved to Lahore in 1935/36 and post-1947, the Samra family who lived next door, acquired the house and subsequently redeveloped the extended property. Apparently houses were mud structures at that time (as Gurbir pointed out to some that still stand) and concrete was used much later (perhaps in the 1970s).

We were touched by the hospitality extended to unknown and unannounced visitors that we were. Gurbir refused to let us go without eating parathas with home-made butter, black dal, kheer, lassi and tea. Quite a meal considering that we had had chole bature and milk for breakfast an hour ago. As they say, when in Rome…!

The visit turned out to be an insight to life in a village. Nothing is hurried. Work and the community are within easy distance. Special requirements demand travel to the city. There are farms and cattle to tend. As in a city, hard work is necessary to acquire a comfortable living.

Having earlier been to Rafi Sahab’s house in Bombay and his grave, the visit to his village completed the circuit for me. One of his songs rings in my ears as I write my account.

Ehsaan mere dil pe tumhara hai doston
Ye dil tumhare pyaar ka maara hai doston
Yaaron ne mere vaaste kya kuch nahin kiya
Sau baar shukriya, arre sau baar shukriya

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33 Blog Comments to “Visit to Kotla Sultan Singh”

  1. NEELAM SHARMA Anshu says:

    Bus Service is available from Amritsar Bus Stand. Kotlas Sultan Singh is 24 kms from there.

  2. Neelam Sharma Anshu says:

    I visited the village twice. Firstly on 12th Oct. 2006 and secondly on 30th july, 2008. During both my visits I was lucky enoug to visit Rafi Sahab’s Classmate Mr. Kundan Singh who was then approximately 85. He shared his memories. Primary School’s staff was also very humble and the Gate of Dashmesh Secondary School & Computer Room is dedeicated to Rafi Sahab. Principal Mr. Maluk Singh Bhutti told us to visit the then lady Sarpanch for details.

    The then Class three’s student Miss Khushpreet Kaur sang a Punjabi duet of Raf – Tu peengh te main parchhawan. It was a memorable visit.

  3. Teja singh says:

    Deepakji main chahta hoon k Rafisaab ki memory mein kisi award ki shuruaat ki jani chahiye.har saal unke birthplace mein koi prgram hona chahiye.

  4. ashfaq ahmad says:

    mohammad rafi was inspired by one of my forefathers baba lataan wala who was a saint in his village can I know something about him

  5. apoorva bhatt says:

    I am a mouth organ ( Harmonica ) player who go to various locations and play a song and then upload it on Youtube .
    After reading 28 comments I also feel like going to this pious place take a pinch of soil of Sultan kotla singh and put it on my head. This will help me increase my note accuracy ( for which Marhoom Rafi saab was No.1 ) during my rendition.

  6. Binu Nair says:

    i have ” requested ” surinder singh a mohd rafi lover and a congress politician to do one small thing in the memory of mohd rafi saaheb.

    ‘of pressurising the punjab govt to institute an annual mohd rafi award who excels in music and one who excels in any humanitarian endeavour of the highest order.’

    mr surinder singh is the vice president of the state congress committee and recently he visited mumbai.

    from the rafi foundation, mumbai

    cell : 0 9833 250 701

  7. mohammed says:

    I am a member of the extended family and wondered if there is any family members left in kotla sultan singh?

  8. rakesh kapoor says:

    I am planning to visit Amritsar in Nove end this year. I am very keen to visit birth place of Rafiji, please write me how can I reach there when I am in Amritsar.

  9. Mohan says:

    Thanks deepakji. True to your name you have enlighted me on Rafi saheb’s birth place which i wanted to visit. For a music lover it is a tirth yatra. Great work indeed.

  10. Narayan says:

    Thanks for sharing a must visit holy pilgrimage site for all Rafi poojaris like me..
    Planning to visit this beautiful village asap…. by gods grace….
    Feel very happy that many fans are exploring the possiblity of visiting our Faristha’s village and the school where he studied..

  11. Harvinder says:

    Sagar = post 12.

    I made it a point to ensure that I visited Rafi Saheb’s birth place in Kotla Sultan Singh. A bit of directon for someone going by road. I went by Car from Jalandhar and there is a an easy way taking right before reaching Amritsar city towards Majitha town (by=pass to Wagah border). Upom reaching Majtha Crossing, turn right. By this time any scooter rickshaw is able to direct you.

    Other option for train guys is to go through the Railway station or Bus Terminus, but this is a terrible journey through under construction roads in the city.

    Now the village is definately backward for a Punjab village and the people are generally poor and very friendly. Gurbir Samra was very welcoming as he teaches in the school where Rafi Saheb studied till 4-5 th class (That is all that he went to school). Even today the class rooms are in depleted state and it is not difficult to imagine how poor it was 75 years ago. I got a feeling that Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims lived in harmony in this otherwise poor village and there was hardly any communal rioting during the partition. Mrs Rafi’s family(daughter of Rafi Saheb’s brother) lived here longer than Rafi Saheb’s family.

    Ironically Rafi Sahenb never visited the village once his family moved to Lahore in 1937. Even his friends went to meet him during his visits to Amritsar City.

    It was heartning to learn that more and more people are visting here now on individual basis. Some politicians and journalists have made tall promises, never to be honoured.

    It was satisfying for me and my family after a merry go round ride on busy and dirty streets of old city.

  12. Ram Kirpalani says:

    I’ve waited this long because we have the last name and are related. I did not want to sound like a partisan one. Now I feel like expressing my thoughts as many others already feel what I have always genuinely felt. Your writing is superb and that you almost take along your readers with you to the site. What more could anyone ask! Thank you.

  13. Rajhans Chowdhary says:

    Post 13 and 15… I wish to see some posts in your favourite language mr tundale as i am a linguist. can write and read some eight languages. go ahead and write as many will enjoy your writings like the great unbeatable songs of rafi.

    is ignorance of the language a bliss for you…. go see the dictionary .

    and try to contribute something in life. not destruct as seen from your posts.

  14. Andrea Correa says:

    Post 15: You say u worked for film industry and hindustani music and you have never accepted the english culture.
    but, your filmi folks ‘run’ to english cultured lands at the drop of a hat. you would also do that – given an opportunity. dont fake issues here as language is just a ‘mode’ of communication. ignorant persons have all the rights to start a site in their language – singh tundale.

  15. Deepak Kirpalani says:

    Sagar, you will first have to get to Amritsar by train or air. Take a bus or hire a taxi from Amritsar that will take you to Kotla Sultan Singh which is about 3 km east of Majitha. Majitha itself is about 20 km north of Amritsar. Ensure in advance that you have transport for the return trip from Kotla Sultan Singh to Amritsar. Hope this information is of use to you. Thanks to each one of you for the wonderful messages.

  16. Dr Kuldeep Sharma says:

    Thanks for taking me to Rafi Saheb’s village. I am feeling like i have been to a pilgrimage. THANKS.

  17. Binu Nair says:

    contd… about post 15.

    Its pitiable – that you do not know to behave in a mohd rafi lovers site mr Tundale.

    what is this ??? suppose to mean… about post 13.

    try writing in hindi/urdu/marathi or whichever language you know on this site as i have seen posts in hindi in this site – previously.

    also, try and know the fact that mohd rafi saaheb studied up to fourth std in non english medium but he never made excuses for this. more, rafi saab has the finest signatures in the english language. pls check this too.

    when called upon to sing in the english language, rafi saaheb worked on two songs of sj and sang ‘very competently’. the songs are the english versions of baharon phool barsaao and the other Hum kaale hai to kya huwa… Pls check sir.

    mohd rafi never said : ‘I will not sing for i studied only up to 4th std in a remote school in punjab’. pls stop finding stupid reasons in a public forum and showing your ignorance mr tundale.

    meanwhile another singer born in indore – a maharashtrian born from – your place & city worked on the hindi language and sang the fluent of fluent songs in hindi . she is lata mangeshkar.

    this site is about mohd rafi saaheb solely and purely. Not about your accepting english culture – as that’s your personal issue. no thanks for now.

  18. BINU NAIR says:

    Who is this Wholesome Bug at Post 13..? going by the Name Uday singh Tundale? Some Baygon Spray is Necessary editor jee, sincerely and urgently.

    the rafi foundation, mumbai, cell : 9833 250 701

  19. Uday Singh Tundele,Indore says:

    It is a shame that we can’t write any thing in Hindi on this site. Now a days writing in many languages is possible through ‘google transliteration’. We are the devotees of Mohd.Rafi who worked for Hindustani Music/Film Industry & never adopted English culture. It is the right time for every Mohd.Rafi lover to insist for enabling the site HINDI friendly.

  20. Sanjeev Dixit says:

    Dear Deepak ji,
    You are so lucky & blessed by RAFI SAHAB that you visited his birth place.Gurbir ji & his family is really too much humble with visitors of RAFI SAHAB’S birth place.I will also grateful to him & his family for great hospitality when i visited the village last year in october. “God” bless the every member of the divine family.
    Once again congrats!!! to you & thanks for such a nice description on your vist.
    -Sanjeev Dixit

  21. Uday Singh Tundele says:

    ???? ?????? ! ????? ?? ?????? ?? ??????? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ????. ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?? ???? ????-???? ????? ???? ?? ???? ???? – ‘?????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????, ??? ?? ????? ???? ?? ??? ????-????’
    ??? ???? ???????, ????? (?.???.)

  22. sagar says:

    sirji i do want to go to kotla sultan. can you guide me that i should i?. I am from pune, maharashtra. What is the way to reach to kotla sultan. do reply. sagar

  23. vinod mehru says:

    dear deepak g,
    bachche naseebo wale ho jo tumhe is yaatraa ka sukh mila, tumhare saath maine bhi man hi man mein visit kar liya hai, agle amritsar trip mein jaroor jaongaa.
    jeete raho,
    vinod mehru

  24. thank you very much deepakjee for taking us to rafi sahab’s hometown and making us feel so very close to the singing avataar.

    your depiction of the village life has rekindled my love to visit quiet places all over again. the city has really filled in some concrete into our brains and thinking too.

    adaab rafi

    ramesh narain kurpad

  25. anurag says:

    As the time passes, Rafi sahab will become more bigger and bigger due to his qualities which are revealed to many people because of net.
    Moreover, absence of good equal voice at present will also create this.
    You do not have to visit hill stations , parks…. rafi sahab songs can take you there instantly. just close the eyes and listen….

  26. Jagmohan Singh says:

    Deepak ji ,you have touched the heart by refreshing the memories of the saint singer Mohd.rafi sahab.He spent 13 years of life in village kotla sultan singh.As to my knowledge he was married in the same vilage with his cousin.His family left the village and wen to lahore.The stories of his childhood are well known in the village.he was very polite by nature,a great human indeed.He got no formal higher education but his pronunciation and expressin of words in the songs is marvelous. yo have honoured rafi sahab by visiting the birth place.thank you very much for sharing views about your visit to village kotla sultan singh.This small village of punjab has a special importance in the history because the name of the great legend rafi sahab is attached with the village.

  27. Deepak Kirpalani says:

    Thanks Mannuforall and Nasreen. 5000 songs have been documented and we must go by facts. If there are more, we need evidence. Speculation gets us nowhere. We all know of tall claims of 25000 and more songs being sung by some singers when the truth points in a different direction.

  28. Deepak Kirpalani says:

    Many thanks, Utthara, Binu and Mr Murty. This is the prasad I brought from the saint’s shrine for all his followers.

  29. Nasreen says:

    Thanks for sharing Deepakji. Your write up brought home the fact yet again that it is in these small villages where one can still find that almost forgotten thing nowadays – known as genuine hospitality. The place where he spent his very young years seems to have contributed in shaping some of the humility and simplicity of Rafi Saab. It would be such an honour to visit this place and those who have been able to do so are indeed fortunate.

  30. mannuforall says:

    Thanks bro for this lovely journey to bring us.
    I doubt its 5000 songs or more!

  31. A S MURTY says:

    Deepakji, very nicely written article. The photographs were good too. You are a blessed soul, having been able to make it to the birthplace of Rafi Sahab.

  32. Binu Nair says:

    A vivid description of the singing saint’s childhood home. the urge to go there has started and this year our group would be there with the saints blessings.

    the writer deepak kirpalani is an advertising personnel from mumbai and his first interest is music, second music and third music. he has a wealth of info on shankar-jaikishan, shailendra, hasrat and rafi saaheb.

    the other day he was mentioning to me that as a child he was waiting near the marine lines promenade when he noticed a flowered truck with processionists trudging by . the morning next he read in the papers that it was Jaikishan who was led on his final journey that fateful day.

    deepak is one more worthy addition to the rafi lovers family and we admire his passion for the golden era of music and his contribution.

  33. Utthara says:

    Deepakji, I can only say wah! While your article takes us along with you on a journey to Punjab, your insight into village life is fantastic. Glad to know that the old world charm still exists in villages–the courtesy and unalloyed affection. Thanks for taking us on a trip to rafi saab’s place.



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