Tag Archives: Lahore Fort

Walking Through History | The Walled City of Lahore

Saira A Nizami

The Old City, or the Walled City of Lahore is in the northwestern part of Lahore, Punjab. The visitor is given access to the city by 13 gates, few of them being Bhati Gate, Lahori Gate and Roshnai Gate.

As he visits the Walled City, Razi Rumi shares these rich moments and his thoughts while walking through streets of Lahore:

FortMughal architecture: Lahore Fort’s beautiful wall with original frescoes. Has survived amid history’s atrocities and government’s negligence.

Faqir Khana Museum

Lahore’s heritage: Inside the Faqir Khana Museum, Bhatti Gate. Some of the carpets are from the Emperor Shah Jahan’s era.

Haveli Naunehal Singh

Imagine living in a room with such amazing frescos – A hidden corner of Haveli Naunehal Singh, walled city of Lahore.

Balcony

Wouldn’t you love to have balcony like this? Spotted in walled city Lahore.

Little Girl in Hijab

Met this young girl in walled city Lahore last week.

Wall

Unfortunate graffiti on one of the 17th century walls of Lahore fort. However there is a guy out there who loves US.

Twinkle School

Twinkle Scholar (private) school has great advertising. Also shows what is valued as success.

School in walled city

Clever combination of modern and traditional education: Madrassa Safeena-tul Quran.

Spices

Ready for artwork? Look again, these are walled city Lahore’s colorful spices

Victoria School

A majestic structure that survives the vagaries of time .With those breathtaking frescos — Haveli Nonehal Singh, Lahore

Victoria School2

A hidden jewel in the densely populated walled city of #Lahore. Haveli Nonehal Singh, Victoria School since 150 years.

GraveStone

When I was procuring old plates, saw this too. The guy got the sign made and only 22 years later had to leave Lahore.

Colonial Plate

A spode plate – India Tree- found in the rubble of Lahore‘s colonial past.

The day Himalaya cried by Haroon Khalid

Today, more than 3 decades have passed to the death of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto; however we still haven’t been able to, as a Nation-State, establish his real stature in the character of Pakistani history. Not that for any politician, it is possible to have universal acceptability across the board, nonetheless there are people in the history of humanity, who have been able to get themselves acknowledged from all hues of various sects, and ideologues. People may disagree with their methods, their opinions, but they are unable to deny them their niche in world politics. Politicians or reformists like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Nelson Mandela all conform to that league of individuals, who altered the course of events, and as a result left indelible mark in the history books. Does Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto belong to that exclusive group of people? This is a question for the political science pundits to answer, however what we can say that even today Bhutto remains the most controversial names in the political history of Pakistan.

For some, he represents the liberator, who, for the first time, made the down-trodden realize their strength. To others he emblemizes a beacon of hope and change, which quickly blew off, once the winds of power blew in. There are people, who think of him as a Pan-Islamic Muslim leader, who had immense foresight, and was capable of uniting the Muslim countries on a single platform. Some qualify him as the first real populist leader of Pakistan, who gave politics of the country its contemporariness, before which it was a vocation only for the elite to be played in drawing rooms. I have met and read about people who believe that had, Bhutto not been assassinated, the condition of Pakistan would have been much better than the nightmare it finds itself in today. I have also come across people, who believe that it was due to Bhutto’s impractical socialist economics that the period of rapid growth and development, which had begun during Ayub’s tenure ended, which makes him the culprit who cut the roots of development, which were expanding fast during the military regime. In between these myriad and heavily guarded points of views lay the real significance of this slain leader, the truth. The purpose of this article however is not to form a consensus across these various shades of thoughts, neither is it to establish a permanent unalterable opinion of Bhutto. It is to rather underscore, the cultural implications of this watershed event. The impact it had on the people. What Bhutto meant to the people.

Having grown up in an environment where hagiography of Bhutto was a daily routine, I still was never able to ever grant any individual that larger than life status. However over the years that I have spend under the shadow of these narrations, I have come across a number of stories, which force me to draw similarities between lives’ of much acknowledged Saints and Bhutto. The first instance of course is his Mazaar at Garhi Khuda Baksh, which could also be called the Makkah of a new religion that may be, coined PPP. Devotees from all over the country fill into this tiny village, throughout the year, and in large numbers during the times of the death anniversaries. All the activities that take place there are similar to the ones that are taking place at the tomb of any Saint.

Around a year ago I was researching for an article that I wrote on Wasti Ram, who’s Smadh still exists, outside the wall of Lahore Fort, facing the Minar-e-Pakistan. I read that during that time period Ravi still used to flow from nearby. Every year the river would inundate causing havoc for the inhabitants of the city. When Wasti Ram (a Hindu Saint) settled at that location, where his smadh stands, the river changed its course. Here a natural event is related to life of an individual, to establish his authenticity as a chosen one in front of the people. I hear a similar story resonating from Sindh, which easily elevates the status of Bhutto from a politician to a Saint, attributed to perform miracles.

The Indus throughout its course was once inhabited by a species of crocodile called Gavial, also known as the Indian Gharial. This reptile has a sleek but long snout, and can grow up to a height of 4.5 m. In mature male Gavials, who are bigger than the counterpart, there is a bulbous mass known as the ghara, right at the tip of the snout. The Indian Gharial, which was unique to South Asia, is extinct in Pakistan. No scientist has seen one for over 25 years now. In 2008 it was reported that someone had seen a Gavial in the Nara Canal, which sprouts from the Sukkur Barrage. As a result, a team of scientists from WWF, which included Dr Masood Arshad reached the spot to confirm the claim. They spend days going up and down the 100 kilometer Canal, during low flow of water but found none. To make sure, they interviewed around 8-10 people from the local fishermen community. The eldest of them narrated that the last Gharial was killed when Bhutto was hanged. If this statement contains any veracity than today also marks the death anniversary of the last of the Gharials. There is no need to point out that this is an apocryphal claim, however the underlining is the cultural tones that this statement illuminates. A larger event is related to the death of a politician, similar to the case in Wasti Ram. My uncle Dr Masood Arshad pointed this event out to me, when I was telling him of another Bhutto story that I heard.

A couple of months ago, I was having a discussion with an Uncle of mine, Tahir Manzoor. He told me that around 1995-6, while he was sitting in the chamber of a lawyer from Gujranwala, Malik Basit, he happened to meet a person, who voluntarily gave up talking after the hanging of Bhutto. The person would only communicate through writing, citing that in a country where a leader like Bhutto can be hanged, there is really nothing much to talk about. My Uncle however had no whereabouts of that person, and neither Malik Basit. It was told to me that the age of that person was somewhere around 35 then. I asked a few PPP people around, but nobody knew about him. I also asked a few people in Gujranwala, but in vain. After much effort I found the number of Malik Basit. Malik Basit, who is a member of PPP still practices law there and has his chamber 152, is in the District Courts Gujranwala. He also has some land in Kot Bhutta, which is nearby. Malik Basit confirmed that this man Abdul Bari Rajput, who belonged to the village of Amenabad, had relinquished talking after the murder of Bhutto. He used to visit his chamber regularly, and would never write until spoken to. He would keep a small pad and a pen with him all the time, and would retort in Urdu anybody’s queries. He would intake minimum food and drink. During the early days of PPP in power, the Health Minister from Gujranwala was Chaudary Ishaq. Abdul Bari was attached to him, as a worker of the Party. Sadly, Abdul Bari recently passed away, and did not utter a word till the day he died.

To Gujranwala, also belonged Parvez Yaqub, aka Parvez Masi, who immolated himself for the release of his beloved leader. He died on 1st October 1978. When Bhutto was imprisoned, there was wide agitation throughout the country, in which students were the vanguards. Universities and colleges were shut down in Sindh. From Lahore, Faisalabad, and Gujranwala, party workers performed self-immolation, of which Yaqub Masi became the first one to die. He was followed by five others. From Lahore, a female Begum Naseem also tried to burn herself outside the Mochi Gate, but she was saved by the spectators. She still lives here.

From Gujranwala, let’s travel to Lilyani, Kasur to meet another fanatic, Rana Muhammad Jamil. He was introduced to me by my friend Iqbal Qaiser. Rana Jamil belongs to a well-off landlord family from Lilyani. His father was a Patwari. All his sons, with the exception of Rana Jamil have well to do jobs in the Government and other organizations. His son runs a successful local business. Representative of his family also are part of the District Council. Even today all of them are loyal to PPP, however in his love and devotion for the party Rana Jamil surpasses all. He is still alive, and roams around the streets of Kasur, with a PPP flag in his hand, and another one draping his shoulder. Still raising slogans in favor of PPP, he openly abuses Zia-ul-Haq, Musharraf, and Nawaz Sharif. This makes him a source of entertainment for the children, and a source of embarrassment for his family. He is known to go to PML-N meetings, where he slurs the party and its followers, which no one, however, seems to mind. Not even the police and the local MNAs and MPAs escape his tirade.

Every year on Bhutto’s and Benazir’s death anniversary he travels to Garhi Khuda Baksh on public transport and attends the celebration there. According to him, he was present in Karachi, when the bomb blast almost killed Benazir. At the time of the funeral he declared his allegiance to Zardari, only if he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, a trait, he doubts the President has. In his 70s, this man is popular around this area.

Before Bhutto’s assassination, while he was still kept in jail, Nusrat and Benazir Bhutto once traveled to Kasur, to visit the tomb of Bulleh Shah. On their way back, they stopped over at his khoti for tea, a crime for which he was later picked up by the authorities. After being missing for a couple of months, he was found naked in Lahore by his family. He has been mentally unstable since then, which nonetheless has not been able to put away the smile on his face. He narrated to us the following verses:

Bhutto Larkane wala

Baba Sewan alea

Zardari nu saai rasta wekha

Baba Sewan alea’

Bhutto ceased to be a politician the day he died. He became a legend, got incorporated into folk tales, myths, and became a cult, a creed, even a caste. Many people use the name Bhutto at the end of their names. This devotion which only increases over time is akin to how many reformers were made Saints after their death. Bhutto already seems to have achieved that level. Therefore to me, it’s not important to establish his right position in history. History is for mortals, and he has broken that barrier. He is part of a legend. No matter what status historians give him, Bhutto would remain to be a source of inspiration for many. For many years to come, people would keep on singing his songs, and narrating the events of his bravery. His devotees would always keep him alive. I am not sure that such myths and legends are attached to the group of leaders mentioned in the beginning of this article, but if they are not, than doesn’t Bhutto even surpass them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unexplored heritage

by Haroon Khalid

Many historians believe that original city of Lahore is not the walled city of today but in fact the locality of Ichhra a few kilometres from the area. Various evidences are shown to prove this thesis, one of which is that the oldest Hindu temples exist in the locality.

Right now we would not delve upon the already established evidences but would try to look at new traces that can shed some light on the history of the city. In popular myths and legends it is believed that the city of Lahore originates in antiquity. A popular myth is that this city was founded by one of the twin sons of Sri Ram and Sita, Lahu whereas the other son established the twin city of Kasur. Continue reading

Abandoned pleasures

LAHORE: The paien bagh at the Lahore Fort is without visitors. The garden was adjacent to the sleeping chambers and was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1633AD. It was used only by the inmates of the emperor’s harem. Continue reading

The Deceptive Web of Tunnels

By Salman Rashid

Who hasn’t heard of the tunnel that connects Lahore Fort with say, the Shalamar Gardens in Baghbanpura and the other garden by the Dal Lake in Srinagar? Or the tunnel that leads from under the fort in Lahore all the way to the Red Fort in Delhi and to several other places all over the world.

We all know of them. My earliest memory of being told of these incredible super-secret subterranean passageways goes back nearly a half century. I must have been five or six when I and my siblings with several other cousins and relatives took what in my memory is the first grand tour of Lahore. One warmish Sunday we took them all in: fort, mosque and Shalamar. The evening was wrapped up with a mad adventure of getting lost somewhere on the banks of the Ravi — which was then a beautiful river, not a sewer like today. Continue reading

Pollution damaging beauty of Fort wall

Pollution damaging beauty of Fort wall – Daily Times 9 September

* Mughal Emperor Jahangir initiated the wall construction and it was completed during reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD
* Wall painting embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings
* Mosaic depicts variety of fashions worn by people of Mughal era

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: Recent permission for parking outside the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD), adjacent to the Lahore Fort gate near the Samadhi Maharanjit Singh, has damaged one of the Fort’s painted walls due to the emission of smoke from the parked vehicles, sources told Daily Times on Monday.

According to government statistics, the parking stand, adjacent to the Shershah Wali plot, was once a beautiful garden under the Parking and Housing Authority.

The wall’s construction was initiated by Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD. It represents a series of tiled montage panels, which historically are amongst the world’s most spectacular sites. It is a remarkable amalgamation of unique designs. It is embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings and is 450 metres in length and 17 metres high

The decorations are between two cornices, which are divided into a double row of differently-sized arched recesses. The fresco paintings are carried out in the arched recesses, while the spandrels are tastefully decorated with tile mosaics, displaying men, fairies, elephants, lions, dragons, scenes of animal fights, men playing polo, and numerous other games. The human figures on the wall give evidence of the fashion custom of that time, from the clothing worn by royalty to those of servants and gladiators.

Sources said that even though the parking stand was constructed for visitors and employees of the Fort, the coaches of the Badami Bagh bus stand are also utilising the space. They said that the smoke emitted from the vehicle engines were directly damaging the wall and ruining its beauty.

PAD Director Muhammad Shahbaz, when questioned about the environmental pollution, defended the parking stand by saying it was a necessary requirement for the visitors of the Lahore Fort.

He urged the removal of the GT Road to save historical monuments, adding that even though the GT Road and the parking stand are at a considerable distance, the stand should not be abolished.

NGO Eco Watch Trust President Imran Haider, who five years ago filed a case in the Environmental Tribunal (ET) about environmental hazards to monuments, said that the ET had passed a judgment regarding the parking stands near monuments to be prohibited.

He said that his appeal was to preserve the monuments in general, claiming the parking stand to be the worst form of threat to the wall, adding that it should be restored back to being a mini-garden.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman told Daily Times that the EPA would ask the Environment Department of the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) to submit a report about the parking stand. He said that he would ask the CDGL to take action against the PAD for not saving the monuments from the hazardous effect of the vehicles.

He said that the EPA, seven years ago, had suggested the provincial government to remove the Badami Bagh Bus stand in order to protect the Lahore Fort from the smoke and dust of the buses. He said removal of the bus stand would help protect the Fort.

Lahore: Conservation and Religion

Conservation and religion
By Ahmad Rafay Alam
(The News)

Just a few months ago, in the shadow of the archaeology department’s devolution to the provincial government, a minaret in the Lahore Fort collapsed, revealing to all just how effective official conservation measures are. A decade ago, citizens of Lahore stood flabbergasted as construction workers felled hundred-year-old trees to bring the shoulder of the G T Road within inches of the entrance of Shalimar Gardens. In the intervening years, the only notable bit of urban conservation was the restoration of the Tolington Market, where, as an illustration of the quality of restoration work, only a few weeks ago, anxious NCA students exhibiting their thesis feared exposure and dripping rain would ruin their work. The PHA’s “new” billboard policy – ostensibly for the beauty of the city – can only find 12 sites of historical importance worth protecting from the ugliness of its advertising hoardings. This in a historically and culturally rich city over a millennium old.

It isn’t just Mughal Lahore that needs to be, and isn’t, properly conserved. Colonial Lahore is also fast fading from view. Behind the mosque next to Fortress Stadium in the Cantonment lies a memorial in honour of the commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment who lost their lives in Lahore just before World War I. The monument is now surrounded by dust and is passed by an un-metalled road. The 19th century buildings that once lined the nearby road, all splendid examples of the architecture of the period, have been brought down to make way for a “General’s Colony” housing scheme. Only one barracks remains, dating back to 1864. The Civil and Military Gazette, where a galaxy of writers and intellectuals interned after Partition, and where Rudyard Kipling – one of Lahore’s two Nobel laureates – cut his teeth, was razed to the ground in the 1960s and turned into a shopping mall, Panorama Centre – Lahore’s first, incidentally. Continue reading