Lahore’s symbol of Kashmiri heritage

Shivala of Raja Dina Nath Madan

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

Dina Nath MadanLahore now in Pakistan is a very old historic city. According to a legend this city on the bank of river Ravi was founded by Luv the son of Lord Ram the hero of Hindu epic Ramayana. But according to Cunningham the ruins of Amba Kapi indicate that Lahore city was probably founded around first century A.D. The Chinese traveller Hieun Tsiang who visited this place in 630 A.D. describes it as a large Brahmanical city.

At the end of the 10th century the kingdom of Lahore was in the hands of a Brahman dynasty and in 988 A.D. its ruler Jai Pal was defeated by Sabaktagin. But Lahore at that time was not an important city so much so that Mahmood of Ghazni though defeated Jai Pal in 1001 and Anand Pal in 1008, did not occupy Lahore. In 1034, Nialtigian the governor of Multan revolted against Ghaznavi and captured Lahore, which was again restored to the kingdom of Ghaznavi in 1036 A.D. and was made the capital of the dominions east of the Indus river. In 1043 the revolt of Hindus of Lahore against its occupation by Pathans was quelled by Maudeed and Malik Ayaz became its ruler. During the reign of Masud III (1099-1114) Lahore became the seat of government of the empire and shot into prominence.

After the death of Masud III the governor of Lahore Mohammad Bahlim revolted against Bahram Shah in 1119; but was defeated and again the seat of government was transferred to Lahore by Khursheed Shah in 1153, where it remained till 1193 A.D.

Mohammad Ghori invaded Lahore in 1181 and captured it in 1186. After the death of Mohammad Ghori in 1206 his slave Kutub-ud-din Aibak was crowned at Lahore. Altumish then became its ruler in 1217 and ruled over it till his death in 1236 A.D.

Lahore then witnessed turbulent times for about a century facing constant raids of Mongols. The ruined city was rebuilt by Ghaiyasuddin Balban in 1270; but in 1285 it was again raided by Mongols who killed Baban’s son Mohammad on the banks of Ravi river. The suburb Mughalpura was founded at the same time by the Mongol settlers. During the reign of Ala-ud-din Khilji his commander Ghori Malik recaptured Lahore after driving out Mongols. In 1398 Lahore was again taken over by a detachment of Timur’s army, who was a direct descendant of Ghengis Khan of Mongolia.

The devastated Lahore was again rebuilt by Mubarak Shah in 1422. In 1441 Bahlol Khan Lodi was appointed by Mohammad Shah as the governor of Lahore who then raised a banner of revolt against his master and became the ruler of Lahore. But again during the reign of Ibrahim Lodi the governor of Lahore Daulat Khan revolted against him and sought the help of Babar whose troops plundered Lahore in 1524, thus making a way for the establishement of Mughal empire in India.

Shivala of LahoreThe Mughal emperor Jahangir fixed his court at Lahore in 1622 and died near by in 1627. He erected the great khwabgah or sleeping palace, the Moti Masjid and the tomb of Anarkali. His mausoleum is there at Shahdara. Lahore was seized by Shaharyar on Jahangir’s death. But was retaken by Ali Mardan Khan; who laid the famous Shalamar garden in 1667.

Lahore then faced the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1738 and then it was occupied by Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1748. After Ahmad Shah’s fourth invasion in 1755,Lahore was occupied and placed under prince Timur from whom it was taken by the Sikhs under Jassa Singh. Marathas took Lahore in 1758 and made Adina Beg as its governor. Sikhs again became masters of Lahore in 1767 and ruled till 1797. Then Shah Zaman of Kabul took Lahore in 1798. He gave Lahore to Ranjeet Singh in 1799 for its effective administration, who then became Maharaja of the Punjab kingdom in 1801.

The Lahore court during the reign of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh (1801-1839) assumed international political importance. It became a focal point for all those people who had some place in the society then. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh himself gave an international colour to his court by appointing persons of different nationalities on various posts.

The first Kashmiri Pandit, who made his appearance in the court of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh at Lahore around 1808 was Pt. Bhawani Das. He probably went to the Sikh capital after the Anglo-maratha war (1803-1805) to seek employment when the British took over Delhi in 1803. Pt. Bhawani Das then in 1813 called Pt. Ganga Ram Raina from Bazaar Sita Ram, Delhi to help him in his work. Pt. Ganga Ram Raina completely reorganized the whole financial structure and dealings of the Lahore court in such a way that he became indispensable and a right hand man of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

Pt. Ganga Ram Raina thus became instrumental in inviting many Kashmiri Pandits from Delhi and elsewhere to the Lahore court and in providing them good jobs in the administration. But some Kashmiri Pandits came to Lahore directly from Kashmir and other places of their own to work under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

Pt. Ganga Ram Raina in 1815 invited Pt. Dina Nath Madan from Delhi, who was his nephew and made him his secretary. Pt. Dina Nath Madan due to his very hard work very soon came into the good books of maharaja Ranjeet Singh so much so that when Pt. Ganga Ram Raina died suddenly in 1826, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh appointed Pt. Dina Nath Madan on the post of his uncle and gave the authority to Pt. Dina Nath Madan to keep the court seal. After the death of Pt. Bhawani das in 1834, Pt. Dina Nath became practically all in all in the Lahore court. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh made Pt Dina Nath Madan his finance minister in 1838 and gave him big jagirs in Amritsar, Dina Nagar and Kasur with annual income of Rs.10,000/- in those days with a complete authority to deal with the East India Company on behalf of the Lahore court. Pt. Dina Nath Madan then never looked back.

Pt Dina Nath Madan was a highly religious person and a stout devotee of saint Mansa Ram Razdan popularly known as Dhooni sahab. He spent a lot of money in renovating the Matt of Dhooni sahab in Gujrat district. He also built a big tank in the temple premises of Bhawani Devi in Kangra now in Himachal Pradesh and a big Dharamshala at a place known as Devipura near Shalamar for pilgrims.

As all the Kashmiri Pandits are worshippers of Lord Shiva so they generally built Shivalas wherever they live to perform their rituals and other religious obligations. Raja Dina Nath Madan also built a big Shivala around 1835 in the Lahore city for his community members. This imposing double storeyed temple complex was located in a thickly populated area in the heart of the city at the junction of Vachchuwali and Mohalla Sareen on the northern side of the old police lines, where mostly Kashmiri Pandits used to reside in that era. This magnificent structure made of red stones had many airy windows in its upper storey opening towards a lane on it southern side with spacious corridors for the free movement of devotees. On its ground floor towards the lane there were a number of shops occupied by petty traders selling their items used for Puja and other materials connected with performing different rituals and flowers for offering to different deities inside the temple. Some shops were occupied by the artisans.

The main entrance to this historic edifice was from the eastern side after climbing about five stairs made of redstone. It had a big door made from Burma teak wood with engravings on it. The big gate of the complex had a border made of artistically engraved red stones.

There was a big courtyard inside this quadrangular complex with living rooms for the comfortable stay of the pilgrims and for the living of its Pujari and for keeping records and properties of this Shivala. The inside walls of this complex had beautiful paintings depicting various episodes from the Hindu epics. The inside room had dome like roofs to give it a majestic look.

At the centre of its huge courtyard there was a Shiva temple made of white Macrana marble. A five feet tall well chiselled idol of Lord Shiva in a dancing pose made from white Macrana marble was stalled on a huge pedestal over which a copper pitcher filled with water with a tiny hole in its bottom used to hang from its ceiling so that water drops may fall regularly without any break on the presiding deity. This Shiv temple had a big dome with a golden Kalash at its top a symbol of Hindu architecture.

The main courtyard of this complex had other small temples as well of various Hindu gods and goddesses. The main Arti in the evenings used to be a big attraction for the devotees as it was performed with a great fanfare blowing conch shells and bugles, ringing of bells and beating of gongs and drums with chanting of Shlokas and singing of devotional songs followed by distribution of Prasad among the assembled devotees.

The month of Sawan according to Lunar calendar of Hindus had a special significance for the devotees as on each Monday of this month the idol of Lord Shiva was artistically decorated with special flower arrangements. On Shivaratri or Herat the whole temple complex used to be illuminated very tastefully and a havan was performed for peace and well being of the community as Kashmiri Pandits on this occasion used to gather in large numbers in this temple complex to celebrate their festival with great enthusiasm and ferver.

It is really a sad commentary that this historic symbol of Kashmiri Pandits’ pride and rich cultural heritage was allegedly demolished by the government of Pakistan much against the spirit of Nehru-Liaquat Pact of 1950 according to a news item published in The Times of India in its issue of 14th June 2006 to pave the way for the construction of a multistoreyed shopping arcade at its side. It was reportedly demolished on the instructions of Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) a body which was created to protect the properties of minorities in that country.

Now according to press reports, one Om Prakash Khattri of Lal Kurti Bazaar, Rawalpindi had filed a writ petition challenging the demolition of this temple in the Lahore High Court; which has stayed the proposed construction of the commercial complex at that site and sought an explanation from the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board. The petitioner had pleaded that the demolition of a place of worship was an act of blasphemy and attracted imprisonment.

The demolition of this temple had evoked a sharp condemnation in India and many organisations had staged protests against the Pakistan government’s blasphemous decision. The external affairs ministry in New Delhi had refused to make any comment over this issue which clearly reflects its soft stand towards Pakistan. Actually our government has no firm policy in this regard as it remains under constant Hamletonian dilemma swinging like a pendulum between to be or not to be. Andra Gide very rightly said Believe those who are seeking the truth, doubt those who find it.

Dr. B.N. Sharga
Manohar Niwas,
Kashmiri Mohalla,
Lucknow-226003.

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4 responses to “Lahore’s symbol of Kashmiri heritage

  1. The name “Sharga” sounds familiar ! Ah… and the address of Dr. B.N. Sharga reads “Kashmiri Mohalla” in Lucknow. I wonder if Dr. BN Sharga knows “Darab Bano Wafa Lucknowi… ” i guess she stayed at the same Kashmiri Mohalla…

    The Judge who set Josh Malihabadi free was also one Mr. Sharga ! Any connection with Dr. BN Sharga ?

  2. Rashmi Talwar …http://saanjh.wordpress.com

    I happened to visit the Vachhowali Shiv Temple of Lahore in 2005. It was probably occupied by a family and goat was tied outside. I remember, a member of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, accompanied me after much coaxing …as I was writing something about state of temples in Lahore, after Indo-Pak Partition.
    On locating many of them, I came to know that it was not so much during Indo- Pak Partition, that temples including of Jain and Bodh religion besides churches were vandalized, as when Babri masjid was demolished in 1992 in India. The fresh demolition that too by the Evacuee Trust –the custodians of properties of minorities in Pakistan –came as a shock in 2006.
    Post Babri Masjid episode ,the anti-India frenzy and hatred in Pakistan was at its peak and the latter loot, was far more devastating than even during the times of Partition– when hatred for communities was at an all time high.
    It is sad commentary on human fury when ‘lifeless’ monuments connected with historicity were destroyed by feelings of hatred for no rhyme or reason, anywhere in the world.

    Though the Lahore Museum has one of the most beautiful artifacts collection in the world and very aesthetically displayed (it is treat to watch them) , but it is also true that many had to be salvaged from savages and mercenaries –propagating hate–, Many of statues were from the beautiful streets and localities of Lahore such as massive statue of Queen Victoria in Black metal that once adorned the chairing crossing.( a duplicate of this same statue in white adorns the Victoria memorial pillar facing Buckingham Palace, London and another is placed in the Victoria Memorial Museum, Calcutta. Many such beautiful artifacts that adorned Lahore streets or were in various shrines of minority communities, also found their way, similarly, into private elite collections in Lahore.
    Destruction of Magnificent Bamiyan Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan is another glaring example of mindless intolerance and destructive streak of humans

  3. Madam Darab Bano Wafa’s father was Dy. Collector and her brother Mr Azizuddin Khalid was in Doordarshan.The Judge who set free Josh Malihabadi free was Pt.Shyam Manohar Nath Sharga, Distt, & Session Judge and the Grand Father of Dr. B.N.Sharga.

  4. SH. MOHSIN JAWAID

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR VALUABLE ARTICLE,ACTUALLY I WAS AFTER ABOUT THE ‘AMBA KAPI’ RUINS NEAR LAHORE.I WILL BE GRATEFUL SOMEONE THROUGH LIGHT ON ITS LOCATION.

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