A line drawn a couple of kilometres from Ludhiana may have defined borders and changed the world for most people. But on either sides there are some things that have become vestiges of another time, another place. TOI traces a few of these legacies of Partition in the city that trigger memories on this side of the border
Walking zig zag between vehicles and people at Lajpat Rai Market near Clock Tower, it is easy to walk past the Lahore Book Shop without much incidence. But, that is only for the uninitiated. For everyone else, the not-so-fancy bookstore is a legacy of the Partition and a destination in itself.
Ludhiana’s literature lovers file into the shop, go through the piles of books stacked one on another and find their pick before heading out with a smile. They say the store is a faithful witness of change while sticking to its roots.
The year was 1940, the place Lahore and Jiwan Singh, who had just finished post graduation in English, had many career opportunities staring him. He could have a cushy government job or work as English professor in any college of the time. But Jiwan decided differently and started the ”dicey” business of publishing Punjabi literature. His motivation was the desire to promote Punjabi and help students easily get books in the language.

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Lahore – a short poem

By Gohar Sadaf Qureshi


Missing Lahore and the years there.
years had been from home,
And now, before the door,
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

Stare vacant into mine
And ask my business there.
My business, — just a life I left,
Was such still dwelling there?

Photo by Saad Alvie

Lahore: Lets Visit Urdu Bazaar!!

Text and Photos by: Shiraz Hassan

Urdu Bazaar is one of the busiest markets of Lahore, Pakistan. It is situated at opposite side of Mori Gate of walled city, near Anarkali bazaar.

This bazaar is known for Book selling, publishing, printing, paper and books related material. From school, college course books to world classics literature books are available here. You can get old and new books on the topic of history, science, religion, music, geography, any topic you name.

There Urdu Bazaar starts from Circuler Road, opposite of Mori Gate and ends at Chatterjee Road, Back side of Govt College University Lahore.

Before partition this bazaar was known as Mohan Lal road and just a few book publishers were settled there, at that time Kashmiri bazaar of Delhi Gate area was the home of book publishers, after partitions they started establishing their business here at Mohan Lal road. Within few years this road appeared as big market of books and books related stuff.

In early 1950s traders of Mohan Lal road decided to change the name of Mohan Lal road, they must thought that now they have a separate homeland for Muslims, and non-Muslim road name should be changed. So they called couple of meetings and ended at the name; Urdu Bazaar. Hazeen Kashmiri, one of the oldest Book sellers of Urdu Bazaar, claims that he suggested this name.

Ex-Mohan Lal road was a small road, with few shops, with passage of time the bazaar expended and now there are more than 500 shops.

There were few old buildings here, especially the publishing press of Gulab Singh, which is now known as Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press, a Govt controlled organization.

In good old times, there was also couple of Hindu temples here .Hari Gayan Temple was one of them. It was one of the most beautiful temples of Lahore city. According to Historian Kanhiya Laal Hindi this temple was built by Shri Prasad Kasith, during Sikh era and religious scholar Pandit Sardha Ram Phulwari used to deliver lecture here.

A Walk inside Lohari Gate, Lahore

Write up and Photo Credits: Shiraz Hassan 

The Lohari Gate is one of the 13 gates of the walled city of Lahore. Being one of the oldest gates of the old city, Lohari Gate is also known as Lahori gate.

According to some historians, the original (old) city of Lahore was originally located near Ichhra, and this gate opened towards that side. Hence the name, Lahori gate.

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Lahore circa 1933, II

By Raza Rumi:
I am grateful to Naeem Ahsan Jamil for sending more old pictures of Lahore from his private collection.

Photo 1:

Kim's Gun, The Mall Lahore

Photo 2

An aerial view of Lahore Airport with the GOC House.

Soon: Bhagat Singh Chowk in Lahore

CHANDIGARH: The Shadman Chowk of Lahore is likely to be officially named Bhagat Singh Chowk this year, two years after democratic, secular and socialistic organizations of Pakistan on their own named the place after the martyr.

“Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharief’s spokesman and senator Parvez Rashid, during a meeting with members of Bhagat Singh Foundation of Pakistan, recently assured that a bill to name the chowk after Bhagat Singh will be passed in the House,” foundation’s president and legal and human rights adviser to Punjab governor, Abdullah Malik, told TOI over phone from Lahore.

Senator Shaukat Basra, along with others, has already sent a bill to this effect to the house, but it has to be officially moved and adopted for the change to happen, Malik said. Within a few years, the revolutionary youth icon against oppression has now become a point of discussion in Pakistani discourse.Click here to read complete article.

Basant: Lahore’s lost spring

Raza Rumi

Cross posted from my website

Lahore, a centre for the arts and learning in the early 20th century, has been the custodian of a plural, vibrant culture for decades. Its walled city, unlike several other old settlements, has continued to survive despite the expansion of the city. So have its peculiar features: its dialects, cuisine, community linkages and, of course, rich festivals such as Basant. As the capital of Punjab, Lahore used to celebrate Basant — the arrival of spring — in a colourful manner.

Since the medieval times, Basant was acknowledged and celebrated by the Chishti saints. Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi turned it into an act of devotion, and Amir Khusrau’s songs captured the multi-layered evolution of this festival.

Punjabi poets such as Shah Hussain gave a Sufi flavour to it. Hussain, in one of his kaafis, says: “The Beloved holds the string in his hand, and I am His kite.” The festival offered a meaning to all and sundry: from playful kids to lovers and Sufis; from profit-seekers who developed livelihoods around the festival to the community as a whole.

Basant was celebrated by all communities prior to Partition: Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs treated it as a Lahori festival with an identity linked to the city. In this milieu, Allama Iqbal was known to be an avid kite flier. But the post-1947 rise of clerics meant that inclusive cultural practices were to be treated with suspicion. For many decades, the Pakistani mullahs have ranted against Basant as an “unIslamic” festival and one that endangered public morality.

Unfazed by these fatwas, Lahoris continued with the festival. It even received state patronage on various occasions. A citizen of Lahore, Mian Yousaf Salahuddin (the grandson of Iqbal), turned his old Lahore haveli into a cultural hub and, over time, Basant celebrations became an international attraction. By the 1990s, proactive civil servants turned Basant into a great regional festival. Lahore’s then deputy commissioner, Kamran Lashari, provided full backing to the holding of this event in the 1990s. That was perhaps the time when Basant also became most controversial due to its scale and the increased hazards of unregulated kite-flying in which metallic or chemical-coated string was used.

The use of this string instead of the traditional dor caused many deaths each year and the local government was unable to enforce regulations on its usage. The metallic wire would get entangled in electricity cables in the old city, leading to electrocution. The courts intervened and asked the Punjab government to ban the festival in 2007.

Ironically, the banning of Basant did not take place in the name of religion but through a public interest litigation. However, the ideological opponents of Basant have been happy with the outcome and have created an uproar each time someone raised the question of reviving Basant after putting safety measures in place. But Lahore is a poorer place now. It is devoid of this public celebration, especially for thousands of impoverished workers in the old city and neighbouring towns where Basant was celebrated with great fervour.

Read the full post here

The images are Mahboob Ali’s works (an eminent artist from Lahore also known for his woodcuts)

Asif Khan’s whithering tomb

Monitoring Desk – Asif Khan’s tomb is situated among a group of monuments situated in what was once the Mughal Dilkusha Bagh (Heart-expanding Garden) in Shahdara.

The group includes a cluster of interlinked monuments of a serai forming the forecourt which leads on the east to the spectacular tomb of Emperor Jahangir, built by his celebrated wife Empress Noor Jahan, and on the west to a mosque and the tomb of Asaf Khan or Asaf Jah, one of the most powerful grandees at the courts of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Close by is situated the tomb built to house the mortal remains of Empress Noor Jahan and her daughter Princess Ladli Begam.

A left turning from the Maqbara Road leads to the cluster marked by a double-storey imposing Mughal gateway. From here the route is by foot since the direct access since the entrances on three sides of his Chahar Bagh Rauza (paradisal garden mausoleum) were blocked in recent times. The route is to turn left towards the mosque in Chowk-i-Jilau Kham (Jahangiri Serai quadrangle).Click here to read complete article.

Lahore in 1933 – an aerial view

These original aerial photographs of old Lahore or the Inner City were shot in 1933. Zahra Mahmoodah has generously contributed them from a recently acquired album for Lahore Nama.

We invite the readers to identify the landmarks and buildings that are captured in the above photograph. Lahore remains the most beautiful city and in the 1930s it was surely a splendour!

Love you, Lahore

By Chintan Girish Modi:

It was my last evening in Lahore. We were at the famous Cuckoo’s Den
restaurant in Heera Mandi. Artist Iqbal Hussain’s labour of love, trying to
reclaim the lost glory of this cultural hub, is a lovely space, especially
if you are seated on the terrace, overlooked by a magnificent view of the
historic Badshahi masjid.

While everyone else was waiting for their dinner to arrive, Haroon and I
excused ourselves for a while. He wanted to say something. It took a while
for the words to come. “Chintan, we would have been such good friends if we
were living in the same city. We share so much in common. I hate
Partition,” he said. I was deeply struck by that spontaneous expression of
friendship. It was a reaffirmation of the respect and affection I had felt
for Haroon since the day we first met. I was overwhelmed, so there was a
long pause before I said, “I know, it’s so unfortunate. But we must stay in
touch. I think I’m going to cry when I leave.” I did.

Haroon, 27, is an anthropologist by training, works at the Citizens Archive
of Pakistan, and is deeply interested in recovering and celebrating the
lost histories of minorities in Pakistan. His remarkably pluralistic
perspective is informed by the rigour of reading, observing, listening and,
perhaps most importantly, questioning. Imagine having someone like that
show you Lahore, with anecdotes at every corner, poetry at every instant.
Well, almost.

I was part of a 21-member delegation that crossed the Wagah Border near Amritsar to spend five days in Lahore, thanks to Exchange for Change, a collaborative program run by Routes 2 Roots, a Delhi-based non-profit organization and the Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), which has offices in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The reciprocal visits of students and teachers from Pakistan to India and from India to Pakistan were planned as the last leg of the year-long exchange program that involved 2400 students from Karachi, Lahore, Delhi and Mumbai.

Through an exchange of letters, postcards, photographs and oral history
recordings, this program sought to help students from both sides of the
border appreciate the possibility and merits of sustained dialogue in order
to gain a clearer understanding of their shared history, culture and
lifestyles. This material was exchanged in the hope that it would clarify
misconceptions, dispel misinformation about historical events and empower children to reject inherited prejudices and form their own opinions based on personal experience.

Correspondence over long distances, literal and metaphoric, does have its
own charm. However, meeting people in flesh and blood is significantly more powerful. I mean the two schools we visited, City School and ILM. The welcome ceremonies, special assemblies and performances, guided tours, free-flowing interactions, lavish meals and photo sessions gave us a rich experience of their warmth and hospitality. I also mean Haroon Khalid, Anam Zakaria and Owais K. Rana, three amazing young people in their 20s, doing important and inspiring work at CAP, beautifully representative of a Pakistan that most Indians don’t know. They live in a society that is often dismissed as traditional, orthodox and unworthy of being engaged with. In their little personal choices, however, they resist becoming just what they are expected to be, in matters of gender, food and faith.

We visited some of the loveliest places in Lahore – Jehangir’s tomb, Data
Darbar, Gawal Mandi, Iqbal’s tomb, Lahore Fort, Lahore Museum, Gurudwara Dehra Sahib, Liberty Market and Government College. We dined at some of the most amazing eateries there – Dera, Peeru’s Cafe, Chatkhara, Uptown LA, Cuckoo’s Den, Nairang Cafe. We lived in one of the best hotels the city has – Avari. However, my fondest memories of Lahore are of the Lahoris — the lovely people from CAP, the friendly hotel staff at Avari from manager to janitor, singer Shafqat Amanat Ali who made time to sing for us, the qawwals at Peeru’s Cafe, the Vice Chancellor of Government College who humbled us with his hospitality, the shopkeepers, the immigration officials, just about everyone.

I feel a deep gladness that is difficult to describe. I am reminded of that
first evening in Lahore when I was a bit unwell and chose to have just
nimbu paani for dinner. Haroon was seated right next to me. We talked about Kabir, Shah Latif, Bulleh Shah and much else. We had just met and he wanted to know how I felt about visiting Pakistan. I began to speak without reserve.

I’m 26 now, and I had been waiting for this trip since the last 15 years or
more. I remember getting quite upset as a child when people said hostile
things about Pakistan. I spoke of my desire to see Pakistan, and I was either snubbed, scolded or laughed at.
Being able to eventually go despite the bureaucratic and political hurdles, border crossings and stringent visa procedures, was a great feeling. For me, crossing the border was never about setting foot into enemy country. The feeling I had was that of walking into an old ancestral family home. Haroon’s face lit up when he heard this. He said, “I know this might sound like a cliche but I really mean it. Welcome home!”
An edited version of this was published here: http://tribune.com.pk/story/348586/love-you-lahore/

Kos Tower and Milestones of Lahore

by Rai Muhammad Azlan Shahid

The Rule of Sher Shah Suri that started in 1540 has always been considered as one of the best eras this land has ever seen in recent history. He remained ruler of India only for five years, but those five years were marked by progress and reform. Jarneli Sarak also known as GT Road in India is one of his great achievements.  During his rule he worked on infrastructure of territory, three major roads were constructed on his order and collectively these roads are thousands of miles in length. First road was from Sanaar village to river Sindh, the second road connected Bengal to Agra, and the third road was built to connect Lahore to Delhi. Along with major roads link roads were also built, trees were planted on the both sides of the roads; inns were built at every 2 Kos (3.6KM) with all the required facilities.

When Jalal u Din Akbar became the king of India, he announced Lahore as his capital city and built 30 feet high wall around the city and 13 gates to enter in the city. One of the gates is facing towards Delhi and that is why it was named as Delhi Gate. First Kos Tower (just like milestone in Kos unit) is situated around 3.6 Km away from Delhi gate.

Historians have different opinions over its construction, as some of the historians have declared it construction of Suri era and some declare that Akbar built it. However, history books also mention that Mughal King Jahangir was also keen to facilitate the travellers and passengers. In 14th year of his rule, trees on the both sides of Lahore to Arga road were planted, after every Kos a tower was built that is known as Kos Tower or Kos Minaar, every Kos tower used to have a proper well of water. Such facts indicate that there were proper facilities for the travellers on the Lahore to Delhi road even before the Jahangir era and for this achievement credit goes to Sher Shah Suri and his vision. However still it is not clear if this Kos Tower was built by Jalal u Din Akber or Sher Shah Suri. Continue reading

Lahore cuisine: Spicy Katlamaas, a snack of all seasons

By  Raza Rumi

Lahore’s walled city is famous for its Katlmaas (deep fried bread with spices and herbs). As a child I used to love them. Now I am hesitant due to the calorie count. This video brought back so many memories. Am sharing it for the readers.

View of sunset in Pakistan’s Lahore

Photo taken on Feb. 20, 2012 shows the view of sunset in eastern Pakistan's Lahore. [Xinhua/Jamil Ahmed]

Photo taken on Feb. 20, 2012 shows the view of sunset in eastern Pakistan’s Lahore. [Xinhua/Jamil Ahmed]

‘Saddened Mona Lisa’ and other paintings – experimental art from Lahore


Art of, and for, Syyed Iqbal Geoffrey – – he being a genuine mussawere (artist) and a prominent vakil ( facilitator of justice-with-love) acclaimed by Sir Herbert Read as an “Astonishing Phenomenon” and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has graciously described him as “The Arts Counsel of Great Britain   – –  is not a born-again outlet or some glittering outage chamaking (shinning on a Cash ‘N  Carry basis in Neverneverland. (References : Zoha Noor-Fatima A. Haider (London)* & Suellen W. Liker (Phoenix)**

(above: SELF=PORTRAIT TOO [1962-2012] : “HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN WITNESSING THE FIRST DROP OF DEW FALLING ON INDIGENOUS MAN’GO!!” oil and mixed media on cardboard-canvas; size 47 inches x 27 inches .. current token price PRs 78600.92P. (may not be acquired at this important stage of its creation by any foreigner). Subject to increases with notice.)

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A love affair in Lahore

By HP News Network:

New Delhi : Hira Mandi, the traditional red light quarter of Lahore, lives in the popular mindscape through its stories of longing, loss and ‘mujras’ after the Pakistan government clamped down on prostitution in the 1970s, says noted French writer Claudine Le Tourneur d’lson.

Her fictional biography, “Hira Mandi”, based on the life story of Iqbal Husain, the son of a Hira Mandi courtesan, has connected to the English-speaking world with its first-ever translation by the capital-based Roli Books.

The novel, originally written in French in 2006, went on sale in India this week after an informal launch at the Alliance Francaise in the capital Monday. It will debut in Pakistan at the Karachi Literature Festival starting Saturday.

Claudine describes the book “as her love affair with the people of Hira Mandi, with whom she had spent weeks in Lahore as if she was a part of them”.Click here to read complete article

Wanton urbanisation defaces Lahore

By Zeeshan Mahmood Siddiqi

Several industrial zones, which were far away from the city two decades or so ago, have now been surrounded by residential areas owing to rapid urbanisation.—File Photo

LAHORE: Massive migration of people from small towns and cities to Lahore primarily in search of livelihood has resulted in haphazard expansion of the provincial metropolis.

Several industrial zones, which were far away from the city two decades or so ago, have now been surrounded by residential areas owing to rapid urbanisation.

Ironically, a hospital set up by the City District Government of Lahore on Mohni Road for the treatment of tuberculosis patients has chemical factories just 50 feet from it.

More than 700 industrial units including steel foundries, re-rolling mills, kilns and furnaces, scrap yards and plastic recycling units have been operating in various localities of Northern Lahore alone, according to an officer of the Punjab Environment Department.Click here to read complete article

Deaths in building collapse expose travesties galore: HRCP

Lahore, February 8: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm and incredulity at the shoddy state of affairs that led to the tragic death of nearly two dozen people in Lahore when a boiler explosion reportedly brought down a three-storey ‘pharmaceutical laboratory’.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Commission said: “Our heart goes out to the families of the poor workers killed in the collapse of a so-called pharmaceutical laboratory building in Lahore on Monday. The disaster has exposed the utter non-existence of any regulatory system, which is as horrific as it is incredible. We now learn that the factory was operating without a licence and in a residential area, that most of the workers were women and very young children employed in clearly exploitative conditions, that the establishment had not been assessed for environmental impact and the premises had not been inspected because the provincial government have abolished labour inspectors’ visits to factories since 2002. The banning of labour inspection is a travesty that amounts to the government’s acquiescence into industrialists’ greedy operations above all else. How such an indefensible policy continues to prevail says something about the persuasive power of big business.

“If such appalling exploitation and illegalities go on unnoticed and unchecked in the country’s second largest city, it should not be too difficult for anyone, including the rulers, to imagine how bad things must be in places that are not quite so close to the seat of government or are not as well covered by the media. Those in power must realise that the people have entirely reasonable and exceedingly diminishing expectations of the government safeguarding their interest. They must preempt such tragedies rather than reacting with posthumous compensation packages and rhetoric. There is plenty of blame to go around and fixing such a broken system would take some doing. For the workers at the factory in Lahore it is too late but for the sake of countless others who continue to work in similar and worse conditions, it is hoped and demanded that the government shows some imagination and spine to put a stop to the policies that make a mockery of the people’s rights and precipitate such disasters.”


Zohra Yusuf


Laal: Surkh Ghata

In Lahore, history falls apart

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Lahore- a short film by Nashmia Khan

Posted by Raza Rumi:

I was completely dazzled by this rather off-beat short film on Lahore by Nushmia Khan. She tries to defy the conventional way of capturing a city and succeeds in capturing some fine moments of this gorgeous city. The  music has been composed by Basheer & The Pied Pipers