Tag Archives: Lahore

A walk through heritage

This article was originally published in The News on Sunday

Haroon Akram Gill

A walk through heritageAround 600 photographers from all over Pakistan and other countries i.e. Philippines, Bulgaria, Belgium, UK, USA, and Germany participated in the Walk. — Photos by the author

The Walled City is home to the cultural and architectural heritage of Lahore. Its blind arches and the pillars of its buildings, elegant havelis, multi-storey houses, wooden doors and windows and, above all, its famous Gates are some of the old city’s glorious features, all of which have long fascinated the tourists, especially those coming from outside the city/country. Though, terrorist incidents badly hit the tourism industry over the years, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is trying hard to pull the tourists back in, by organising cultural activities; ‘Photo Tourism Walk’ being one such event.

The WCLA claims to have introduced the concept of photo tourism by holding walks in 2012. The Photographic Society of Pakistan, having almost 20,000 members (all photographers) is a major partner and has contributed to projecting and saving the heritage. Continue reading

100 Years Ago Today: The Lahore Division takes the field at Battle of Ypres

Soldiers of the Lahore Division of Britain’s colonial Indian Army went into action in Belgium for the first time on October 24th 1914. CN writer Christopher J. Harvie discusses a critical moment in the First Battle of Ypres.

Lahore Division

Eventually contributing over one million troops, the British Indian Army would become the largest source of volunteers from the Empire. The first units to the Western Front in 1914, parts of the Indian Corps of Indian Expeditionary Force A, arrived at a most desperate moment.

In two months of open warfare costly battles had been fought back and forth in the hinterlands of France and Belgium. Constant contact had worn the armies down, shrunk their reserves of manpower and turned the war into not much more than a grappling match.

Ypres became a grinding battle of willpower more than anything else.  Through heavy rains along ground already wet and miserable and days growing colder, villages, woods and shallow trenches were taken and retaken.  For almost four weeks of assaults and counter attacks, wearied men on both sides continued to hammer away at each other in a dogged and brutal fashion.

(“First Light of Dawn”, author’s post If Ye Break Faith)

Gone by this point were the sweeping, grand manoeuvres of large armies in the field. The conflict had now devolved to isolated skirmishes, both sides attempting to probe for the weak link that would open the ground wide again.

By mid-October, the low-lying, difficult terrain of Belgian Flanders was the only place remaining where either the Germans or the Allies might break through. The remainder of the front had settled into mutual defensive works or would be deliberately flooded by order of the Belgian King. To date, the BEF had incurred 57,000 casualties and in some places around the Ypres area of operations were so depleted as to be at a 12:1 numerical disadvantage.

India Arrives

On October 20th 1914, the Indian Cavalry Corps with the 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Divisions began to reach the front. With an immediate need to shore up the thinly held salient, the 3rd Division, having arrived first, was broken up. Individual brigades and battalions were sent where they were most needed. The Division would be blooded almost simultaneously in three separate engagements at La Bassée, Messines and Armentières.

Despite the home garrison being in the predominantly Punjab city of Lahore, which is now within Pakistan, the 3rd Division (referred to by its nominative “Lahore Division” on the Western Front to avoid confusion with the BEF’s 3rd Division) was composed of battalions of wide backgrounds including men of Baloch, Dogra, Ghurkha, Pathan, Punjabi and Sindhi heritage.  It came into its pre-war organisation during Kitchener’s reforms of the Indian Army in 1904, as part of Northern Command, with the Jullundur, Sirhind and Ambala brigades

“Where is my Division?”

The deconstruction of the Lahore Division wasn’t a discourtesy; at this point larger formations were of little use and these troops as with some British units became detached and used as “flying squads” to shore up the line during a very fluid situation. Lieutenant General Wilcox, GOC Indian Corps, noted in his diary in late October how the Division was taken apart:

“Where is my Lahore Division? Sirhind Brigade detained in Egypt. Ferozepore Brigade: somewhere in the north, split up into three or four bits. Jullundur Brigade: Manchesters gone south to (British) 5 Division (this disposes of only British unit) 47th Sikhs: Half fighting with some British division; half somewhere else! 59th Rifles and 15th Sikhs:In trenches 34th Pioneers (divisional troops) also in trenches 15th Lancers: In trenches. Two companies of Sappers and Miners fighting as infantry with British divisions. Divisional Headquarters: Somewhere?

(With the Indians in France, London: Constable, 1920)

With his brigades stretched so far apart and attached to other commands, General Wilcox was a Corps commander without a corps to command.

No Reserves

The soldiers of the Division had grown a domestic reputation as formidable warriors. Now as they entered a European battlefield for the first time, they proved themselves deserving. Desperately outnumbered and under pressure of constant German attacks, the Lahore Division in the localities it was set to defend held ground and went into counter attacks which helped solidify the British line outside of Ypres, the critical rail and road juncture of Flanders whose possession could dictate a heavy advantage.

Britain had no reserves ready to deploy. The Regulars were all but spent, most of the Territorial’s were still assembling and the large volunteer force to become known as “Kitchener’s Armies” had barely begun to train. The addition in late October 1914 of two trained and motivated divisions quite possibly staved the disaster of collapse at Ypres. By month’s end the Indian Corps had suffered 1,565 casualties.

For Valour

Not two weeks after his 26th birthday, Sepoy Khudadad Khan and his machine gun team were facing a severe German attack, October  31st 1914. He remained at his post despite wounds and the loss of the other men of his detachment,  keeping his gun firing-the only remaining machine gun in action- only leaving after the enemy had bypassed his position believing him dead. For his actions, Sepoy Khudadad was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Empire’s highest award, himself being the first South Asian recipient of the decoration.

“The Jewel of Punjab”

Today, Lahore is the capital city of Punjab Province in Pakistan, known affectionately as “The Jewel of Punjab.” It lies close to the border with India. The city was a place of contention and violence during partition in 1947  but exists now as a thriving commercial and cultural centre.

This article was originally published in Centenary News

10 desolate monuments of Lahore

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Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, is one of the epicenters of architecture, particularly that belonging to the Mughal period. Historical monuments and buildings serve as visual reminders of the past. They bring the general public closer to the relics of various civilizations that had once existed in the pre-historic times. The historical pieces are like safe vaults carrying centuries old secret treasures. Not only do they connect people with their history and cultural heritage, they also give them a better understanding of where they hail from and how they should appropriately define themselves today.

Unfortunately, most of the monuments in Lahore are facing a host of issues ranging from human neglect, environment degradation to factors as aging and natural decay. Despite conservation efforts, the Department of Archaeology and Government of Pakistan have failed to preserve various monuments that possess sheer historical importance.

Chauburji

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Situated on the Multan Road, the monument was actually a gateway to a garden that has now disappeared. It is called Chauburji (the four minarets) because of its four corner minarets, out of which one on the north west corner was actually lost. The fragmentary inscription on its eastern archway records that the garden was founded in 1664 A.D by a lady, mentioned metaphorically as “Sahib-e-Zebinda.

The reference is most probably to Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan who was entitled as “Begum Sahib “.

The main architectural merit of the building is its rich mosaic decoration with which its entire façade including the octagonal corner minarets are brilliantly embellished

Tomb of Anarkali

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Anarkali, a beautiful girl brought up in Akbars Tharam was suspected by the Emperor of having a secret love affair with prince Salim (Emperor Jahangir). According to the legend, she was executed for her amorous folly in 1599 A.D. Six years later, when Salim came to the throne, he in the memory of his beloved, constructed a monument known as Anarkali Tomb. The mausoleum which stands within the enclosure of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, was completed in 1615 A.D. It has undergone great changes from time to time that it has lost all its original decorations. In 1891 A.D. it was converted into Punjab Records office and still serves the same purpose.

Hazuri Bagh and Baradari

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The quadrangle now occupied by the garden called Hazuri Bagh with a marble Baradari (1818 A.D.) in its center, was originally a Sarai built by Aurangzeb, where during the Mughal rule thronged the Imperial cavalcade and armed retainers.

The two storied building adjoining the southern gateway (Hazuri bagh Gate) was also originally built in the time of Aurangazeb as a boarding house for scholars. Later on it was used as Abdar-Khana or place for keeping refreshing drinks. During the reign of Ranjit Singh it came to be called Gulabkhana or “Rose water House”. During the British period it was again used as a boarding house for students.

The marble baradari was constructed in 1818A.D. by Ranjit Singh.

The Sikh Maharaja used to sit in state and transact business of his kingdom, and it was also in this baradari that Sher Singh received the British Embassy sent by Lord Ellenborough in 1843 A.D.

Dai Anga Tomb

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Behind the Gulabi Bagh Gateway and on the site of the former garden lies the mausoleum of Dai Anga, nurse of Shahjahan. She was the wife of Murad Khan, a Mughal Magistrate of Bikaner. She also founded Dai Anga’s Mosque, one of the well known ancient mosques of Lahore. The Quranic inscription on the walls of the tomb chamber ends in the name of the scribe, Muhammad Salih. According to the date inscribed on the tomb, it was constructed in 1671 A.D. The mausoleum comprising a central tomb chamber and eight rooms around it, was once beautifully decorated with mosaic work.

Samadhi of Ranjit Singh

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Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler, ruled Punjab from 1799 to 1839 A.D. His Samadhi occupying the spot where he was cremated lies just opposite the Lahore Fort. It was commenced by his son Kharak Singh and completed in 1848 A.D. Built in bricks with a sprinkling of red sandstone and marble, it is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim architecture composed and constructed in conformity with Hindu tastes. The ceilings are decorated with class mosaic or plain glass work. Eleven smaller marble knobs placed all around hold ashes of four queens and seven slave girls. The interior of the Samadhi chamber is also decorated with frescoes depicting mostly the stories of the Sikh Gurus.

Haveli Maharaja Naunihal Singh

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Haveli Nau Nihal Singh is reckoned among the most magnificent buildings of Lahore constructed during the Sikh period. It was built by Nau Nihal Singh, son of Maharaja Kharak Singh, and was used as his private residence. It contains numerous spacious chambers, halls and balconies. The roofs are decorated with paintings and mirrors decorated with gold. The walls are richly ornamented with glasses and artificial flowers.

Tomb of French Officer’s Daughter

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The tomb exists on a mound to the east of main road from old Anarkali to Jain Mandir. Still this area is known as Kuri Da Bagh (Daughter’s Garden) named after the French officer’s daughter.

Originally this garden was laid by General Venture a coach to Sikh army. Another French General M. Allard an officer in the services of Maharaja Ranjgit Singh was also residing in the same garden who remained in service from 1822 to 1889.

The daughter of General M. Allard named Marie Charlotte died on April 5 in 1827 in Lahore and she was buried on a mound in the north west corner of this garden. General H. Allard also died due to heart attack in January, 1889 during the campaign of Peshawar and his body was brought to Lahore and buried by the side of his daughter in the same tomb.

It is small tomb with a dome octagonal in plan. On the top of the main entrance, a tablet with Persian script is fixed bearing the name of the bidder and the death date of Marie Charlotte.

Gulabi Bagh Gateway

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Known for its excellence of rich and vivid mosaic tile work and superb calligraphy on plaster base, this was the entrance gate to a garden which like many others in Lahore has now disappeared. It was constructed by a Persian noble, Mirza Sultan Baig, who was Aminul Bahr (admiral of fleet). It is said that in 1657 A.D while on a hunting excursion to the royal hunting reserve at Hiran Minar near Sheikhupura, he died from the bursting of an English gun given to him by Shahjahan. The title “Gulabi Bagh” (Rose garden) occurs in the last line of the inscription of over the archway which not only describes the kind of the garden, but as a chronogram, also gives the date of its construction, 1655 A.D.
Kos Minar

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In 1609 the Emperor Jahangir ordered a small minaret like monuments to be built at every kos along the Grand Trunk Road. Kos was an ancient measure of the territory distance which varied from time to time. It was derived from Kross meaning a “cry” used as an indication of distance as early as 300 BC. It was probably known also to Hiuen Tsang in the seventh century AD. During the period of Emperor Jahangir the conventional Kos, was measured between 2 miles 3 furlongs to 2 miles 5 furlongs. Remians of a 4 Kos Minars of Mughal period still exist in the environs of Lahore, among which the typical example at Shahu-ki-Garhi near the railway line just outside Lahore station is prominent. It is built of burnt bricks about 27 feet high, with an octagonal base and cone-shaped super structure not having any inscription.

The other Kos Minars exist in the most miserable condition.

Bhadrakali Mandir

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Bhardrakali Mandir, an ancient Hindu temple is situated inside the famous Thokar Niaz Baig. The temple dedicated to an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Durga Mata was once a grand complex comprising various smadhs (stupas), baoli (well), banyan tree, a pool and two temples. According to the writer Kanhiya Lal, the largest Hindu festival of Lahore used to be held in this temple. Unfortunately, historical account regarding the main temple can’t be found. However, another structure created by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his reign still stands there and is being used as government primary school.

This article was originally posted at Dunya News Urdu Website

Saving Lahore…uphill task

A bunch of starry-eyed do-gooders, under the banner of the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, are trying to raise their voice against the further expansion of the Canal Road. Over the years, and under the tender ministrations of chief ministers who for the mischief they have caused in the name of development deserve a spell in some Stalinist re-education centre, the Canal road has been double-widened, then triple-widened and tunnelled under.

Trees have been cut – Pakistani officialdom and Pakistanis generally nursing some kind of a primeval grudge against trees…if they see one standing honour is not satisfied unless it is pulled down – and an iron railing has been put up, of no use whatsoever and on the wrong side of the footpath. The visionary behind this planning deserves a prize.

Yet Punjab officialdom, and for that matter the far-seeing administration of the Khadim-e-Aala – they no longer even smile when this title is used, such being the prevalent sense of humour – are resolved to vandalise the Canal thoroughfare further. They want to ‘improve’ the underpasses and create some U-turns, as if U-turning was not already a national art. If memory serves, a sum of over eight billion rupees is set aside in this year’s provincial budget for this purpose.
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Kabir in Lahore

A four-day long festival in Lahore celebrating Kabir Das, the revered 15th century poet and mystic who defied the boundaries between Hindu and Muslim, ends on Thursday.

 

The Kabir Festival (Sep 29-Oct 2, 2014) has been organised by the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in collaboration with the Kabir Project in India, a unique and acclaimed initiative by documentary filmmaker and musician Shabnam Virmani.

 

The aim is to promote the philosophy of spirituality and harmony through film screenings, live musical evenings, photo and video exhibitions, storytelling, and interactive sessions. The performers include classical and folk singers, scholars, artists, and students of Pakistan and India, who share a passion for the mystical world.

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News About Lahore

These are some interesting news about Lahore. Sharing for our readers at Lahorenama. More updates will be shared in future to keep our readers updated about Lahore.
Construction of underpass begins despite objections

LAHORE

Ignoring all objections from civil society bodies, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has started the construction of a new underpass on Canal Bank Road at Jinnah Hospital crossing and a road linking Canal Bank Road to Wahdat Road.

The project is a part of the extension plan of Maulana Shaukat Ali Road to Multan Road through the Punjab University land. The new road is 3.4-km long with two underpasses, first at Lahore Canal Crossing and second at Wahdat Road Crossing. The estimated cost of this project is over Rs 1.7 billion, a senior LDA official said.

Imrana Tiwana, Secretary Lahore Conservation Society (LCS), while talking to The News, said the ongoing construction was a clear violation of the orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan and Canal Heritage Act, which prohibits construction on infrastructure, felling or damage of or to trees, pollution of water, hunting and use of firearms in the Canal Heritage Park.

See More…

 

Phone lines not fully operational in Lahore after PTCL fire

Phone lines not fully operational in Lahore after PTCL fire

LAHORE: It has been three days since a fire erupted at the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) exchange in Lahore but most of the city’s telephone lines, one link and the routers of a mobile company are yet to be restored.

City residents are facing problems as they can’t even contact the emergency numbers. A fire erupted in PTCL’s building on Egerton Road on Sunday.

A lot of difficulties and delays were faced while extinguishing the fire to the mentioned building but the restoration of the system seems more difficult as even to date the telephonic system has not been fully restored because of which the people of Lahore are experiencing problems with telephone connections and are unable to call even emergency numbers such as police, 1122 and other helplines.

On Sunday 45,000 telephone lines and 25000 internet connections had been disconnected because of the fire. PTCL is yet to issue a statement about the number of connections restored so far.

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 Stay safe: Dengue drive to continue during Eid holidays

LAHORE: Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique on Tuesday ordered that anti-dengue activities be continued during Eidul Azha holidays.

He was chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Dengue at Civil Secretariat.

Provincial Assembly Member Kiran Dar, Labor Department Secretary Farhan Ali Khwaja, Higher Education Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal, Health Services Director General Zahid Perviaz, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Muhammad Usman, Additional Health Secretary Salman Shahid, Health Services Additional Director General  Islam Zafar and Institute of Public Health Dean Prof Muaz Ahmad attended the meeting.

The adviser ordered cleaning of graveyards and Eidgahs before the holidays. The campaign against dengue fever should particularly focus on areas where the virus had been detected, Rafique said.

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8th IGATEX Pakistan begins from 21st at Lahore’s Expo Centre

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The 8th International Garment, Textile & Leather Machinery and Accessories Exhibition and Conference – IGATEX Pakistan is scheduled from 21st to 24th October 2014 at Expo Centre, Lahore.

It is an international event recognized for its quality of exhibitors and visitors. IGATEX Pakistan 2014 introduces high level machinery, equipments and accessories which provide business opportunities and add value to our exports. It will increase the product worth that will positively effect on economic well being of Pakistan.

The event is known to not only introduce newest expertise, but also improvise trade benefits and increase foreign investments and spending through business visits by international delegates.

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Lahore becomes Centre of Political Conflict

Malik Omaid

PTI’s 30th October, 2011 “Jalsa” was a big breakthrough, it changed the stagnant political scenario. We don’t comment on the Political ideology or ways of Imran Khan’s Politics. But PTI has gathered huge following in the “Sleeping Voters”. Those who never took interest in Politics are now campaigners/enthusiasts. Lahore’s Politics which was stuck in two parties for two decades have now changed and the third Party is enjoying huge support from the Lahoris. Yesterday a huge meeting of PTI workers and supporters gathered and it is being said that this will have huge implications of the cities Politics in the future.

PTI Jalsa 3
Huge enthusiasm among the supporters was seen all day around. Presence of families is always a difference of PTI “Jalsa’s” and other Political Parties.

Jalsa
Birds eye view of Lahore Jalsa, excellent use of lights and colors.

PTI-jalsaYes People were everywhere!
Selfies

Imran Khan’s supporters ranged from the underclass to the elites, many used their cell phones to capture the moment.

Photo of the Day: City Surrounded by Sacrificial Animals as Eid-ul-Azha comes near

The city is not just surrounded by, but also filled with sacrificial animals. It has traders roaming free all over the city to sell their animals.

sacrifical

Photo via The News

THE CAPITALS OF PAKISTAN: LAHORE

This article was originally published here

Lahore Social

Introduction of the Capital – Lahore:

Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan, after Karachi. It is the administrative capital of the largest province by demographics, Punjab. At present, the population of Lahore is estimated to be 7.5 million people with a current growth rate of 2%.  It is a rising mega city, comprising of an old but urban residential settings and new developing residential and commercial areas. Lahore’s economic base is broad and diversified. The major industries include the automobile manufacturing, home appliances, steel, telecommunications, IT, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, engineering, heavy industries, and construction material. The city is the country’s largest software producing center and hosts a growing computer-assembly industry.

Situated along the River Ravi, the city is located 25 kilometers from Wagah Border that runs along the Indian city of Amritsar.  Spreading over an area of 1,014 km², and growing, it lies at the central east of Pakistan between 31°15 to 31°45 North and 74°01 to 74°39′ East at the average attitude of 702 feet above the sea level.  The land is mostly the flat alluvial plains suitable for cultivation with a subtropical low-latitude semi-arid hot climate. Continue reading

Lahori Samosa

Pervaiz Alvi

(TOP) Sheikh Lateef, the owner of the shop, is seen frying Samosas while the other picture is of a worker preparing the triangular delight. — Photos by Khurram Amin

(TOP) Sheikh Lateef, the owner of the shop, is seen frying Samosas while the other picture is of a worker preparing the triangular delight.

RAWALPINDI: If you ask any resident of Rawalpindi about the best Samosa outlet in the town, the Lahori Samosa Shop at College Road will come as the reply.
A few yards away from the historic Liaquat Bagh, there is a road on the rear of the Government Gordon College.
The road houses China Market and famous food outlets, including samosa shops, Kashmiri tea vendors, Tikka houses and stalls selling fried sparrows and many others.
A visit to the area shows workers busy in preparing and serving different items and consumers waiting to get their orders.
Fast food is very popular in the city but people still like the samosas, the eastern delight, with evening tea with their families and guests.
The Lahori samosa is very simple but delicious. It is made with potatoes and served with sweet chutney and chickpeas with fewer spices which made the flavour more exotic. In the winter, people enjoy the samosa with Kashmiri tea while in summer the almond flavoured milk is available with it.
Maintaining its quality for the last 48 years, Lahori Samosa Shop remains the favorite place for most of the people in the twin cities.
Shops opened in adjoining areas with this name have failed to match its quality as the old chef never let out his secret recipe to others.
A large number of people, including college students, shopkeepers and women visitors to Raja Bazaar and China Market, are seen either sitting outside the shop or in their cars on the roadside enjoying the delicious plates. Continue reading

Bo-Kata – A page from “Lahore: A Sentimental Journey” of Pran Nevile

Basant

I cannot recall anything that thrilled me more than kite flying in my boyhood days. Whenever I observed my kite soaring towards the clouds, I experienced a sense of power and mastery over the elements. Perhaps, in a way, I identified myself with the kite itself flying so free and so high above me, far from the madding crowd, enveloping me in a spirit of freedom and adventure, I felt that kites also signified a hope, a desire for escape, fancy dreams entrusted to a breath of wind and connected to a string and the hand that clasped it.
Those were the days when kite fighting instead of kite flying was in vogue. Pecha larana, or to entrap another kite by pouncing upon it from above or below or sideways, depending on its position, was the most exciting part of the sport. The skill lay in crossing dore with an opponent until the vanquished kite, cut loose, floated helplessly over the rooftops. The victor and the teammate would announce the defeat of the rival with loud cries of Bo-Kata, and throw a challenge for a return pecha. The defeated rival would accept the challenge and stir up a fresh kite into the sky. The rules of the game did not permit entrapping the kite till it was high above in the sky. It required great manoeuvring to entangle or disentangle one’s kite from the clutches of the opponent. Sometimes, we heard a shrill commotion on the rooftops and saw boys running with bamboo poles to catch a drifting kite. A falling kite in a street or bazar also created a stir and passer-by of all ages would run to catch the booty as a prized possession. Some boys who could not afford to buy kites often amused themselves by watching pechas and catching the falling kites.

lighted-basant-night
Every mohalla in Lahore had its own acknowledged khilaris (expert kite-flyers). As soon as they launched their kites, it was a signal for the small-timers to pull back their kites and leave the field open for them. They dared not venture to disturbed the khilaris, each of whom had established his sphere of influence. I was also a small khilari who after accepting a challenge from a rival would enter the battle only at an agreed time.
There was a style of kite flying called kaincha that entailed cutting the twine of the rival kite by dragging and pulling it with a sudden jerk. This was a practice followed by some boys who had very little twine and were looked upon with contempt by the khilaris who would sometimes even give them a beating for attacking their kites in this fashion.

Basant
We always looked forward to Basant, the king of all festivals in Lahore. About two weeks before its arrival, the kite shops were specially decorated and a large variety of kites of different colours, shapes and sizes were displayed along with small and large pin nabs and artistically wound dore in numerous attractive colour combinations, large stocks of kites were also brought from Lucknow for the occasion. The kite makers and dore producers worked round the clock. The khilaris used to pile up their stocks of kites and dore well in advance to avoid the last minute rush. Second in importance to basant was the Lodhi festival held on Makar Sankranti, which usually falls on 13th January. On that day we had kite flying on a large scale, a full-dress rehearsal for Basant, which falls usually in the first week of February. Basant signaled the end of the winter season in Lahore and the onset of spring.

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The celebrations on Basant day would commerce well before daybreak, when specially constructed box kites carrying lighted candles like lanterns were set afloat in the sky. These moving lights in the sky made an enchanting sight and signified the inauguration of the great kite-flying festival of Lahore, unmatched anywhere else in the world. Rooftops and terraces were crowded with men, women and children of all ages. It was also a custom to wear yellow turbans on Basant day. The women, young and old, also sported yellow chunnis which lent a new charm to the festival atmosphere. By daybreak the sky would be ablaze with thousands of kites of different colours, shapes, sizes and designs. The whole atmosphere of the city also reverberated with the triumphant shouts of Bo-Kata and the blowing of the trumpets to proclaim victories in kite-fighting battles. There were famous khilaris in said Mitha, Wachhowali, Machhi hata, Sutar Mandi, Rang Mahal and other areas of Lahore. They challenged one another for paichas. The Basant festival was also held outside near Haqikat Rai’s Samadh, where crowds from neighbouring villages joined the city crowds and enjoyed kite flying. There were also renowned Khilaris who played for heavy staked in Minto Park. The winners were admired for their dexterity and skills in gauging the winds as well as for the perfection in the tactics of manoeuvring, surging, shielding and stretching during the kite flying.

بھیرو کا استھان، ہندوؤں کی قدیم تاریخی عبادت گاہ جو رہائش گاہ بن گئی

This article was originally posted in The Daily Express

مندر کی عمارت میں رہائشی لوگ بہت ساری طلسماتی اور ماورائی کہانیوں کے اسیر ہیں۔ فوٹو: فائل

قدیم لاہور کے مقام کے بارے میں مؤرخین کی ایک رائے یہ بھی ہے کہ اس وقت کے پرانے لاہور سے کچھ فاصلے پر واقع اچھرے کو قدیم لاہور کہا جا سکتا ہے۔ہندوستان میں کئی قدیم شہروں کے گرد فصیلوں میں موجود دروازوں کے نام نسبتی ہونے کے ساتھ ساتھ دوسرے شہروں کے رخ کی جانب ہونے کے باعث ان شہروں کے ناموں پر بھی دکھائی دیتے ہیں۔ جس طرح پرانے لاہور میں دہلی اور کشمیری دروازوں کے رخ ان شہروں اور مقامات کی جانب ہیں۔ اسی طرح اگر لاہوری دروازے کی سیدھ میں دیکھا جائے تو اچھرہ کا علاقہ دکھائی دیتا ہے۔

یہ قرین قیاس ہے کہ قدیم لاہور کا مقام اچھرہ ہی ہو۔ اچھرہ میں ہمیں دو قدیم مندروں کے حوالہ جات بھی تاریخ کی کتب میں ملتے ہیں۔ ایک مندر ’’چاند رات مندر‘‘ تھا جس کا رقبہ کئی کنال پر محیط تھا۔ لیکن اب اس مندر کے آثار ڈھونڈنے سے مل نہ پائیں گے۔ دوسرا مندر ’’بھیرو کا استھان‘‘ تھا۔ تاریخ کی کچھ کتب میں اسے ’’بھیرو استھان‘‘ بھی کہا گیا ہے۔

’’استھان‘‘ ہندی زبان کا لفظ ہے جس کے معنی مقام‘ جگہ‘ حالت‘ رہائش گاہ‘ مندر‘ مزار کے ہیں۔ ’’تھان‘‘ بھی ہندی زبان کا لفظ ہے جس کے معنی مقام اور جگہ کے ہیں۔ چونکہ یہ مندر بھیرو سے منسوب ہے تو یہ مندر بھیرو کا مندر‘ یا بھیرو کی رہائش گاہ کے معنی میں لیا جاسکتا ہے ۔ اب ایک نگاہ بھیرو پر بھی ڈال لی جائے۔

ہندو اساطیر کی روشنی میں بھیرو نامی ایک دیوی کا تذکرہ ملتا ہے جو ہندوئوں کے لیے اپنے تقدس کے باعث مشہور ہے۔ اس کے بھگت کامیابی کے لئے اس کی پوجا کرتے ہیں۔ سید لطیف نے اپنی کتاب ’’تاریخ لاہور‘‘ میں اس مندر کے حوالے سے دیوی ہی کا ذکر کیا ہے۔

دیوی کے ساتھ ساتھ بھیرو نامی دیوتا بھی دیو مالائی کہانیوں کا ایک مشہور اور خاص کردار ہے۔ ہندوستان میں کئی مقامات پر اسی دیوتا کے نام سے بڑے بڑے مندر اور پوجا گھر دکھائی دیتے ہیں۔ ہندو روایات میں یہ دیوتا اپنے غیض و غضب کے حوالے سے مشہور ہے۔ اس کے بھگت عموماً اس کی پوجا اپنے دشمنوں پر کامیابی حاصل کرنے کی غرض سے کرتے ہیں۔ لاہور کی تاریخ کے حوالے سے کئی کتب میں یہ مندر اسی دیوتا سے منسوب ہے۔ یہ دیوتا شیوا جی اور دیوی ستی کا اوتار ہے۔

دیوی ستی کا باپ دکھشا نامی دیوتا تھا۔ دکھشا نے ایک بار بہت عظیم الشان یوجنا کا اہتمام کیا جس میں تمام دیوتاؤں کو مدعو کیا گیا لیکن شیوا کو نہ بلایا گیا۔ ستی دیوی کو اپنے شوہر کی بے عزتی کا گہرا رنج ہوا اور وہ اسی یوجنا کی آگ میں جل کر مر گئی۔ شیوا نے ستی دیوی کی موت کے باعث اس کے باپ دکھشا کو مار ڈالا اور یوجنا کی آگ سے اس کا جسم اٹھا لیا تاکہ وہ تاندوا کی رسم پوری کر سکے۔ اس کتھا کے آخر میں دھرتی کا پالن کرنے کے لئے وشنو دیوتا نے ستی کے جسم کے ٹکڑے پرتھوی (زمین) پر گرا دیئے جو کہ ہندوستان کے مختلف علاقوں میں گرے۔

جہاں جہاں وہ ٹکڑے گرے وہیں وہیں پر بھگتی کے مندر تعمیر ہوتے گئے۔ شیوا ان مندروں کی حفاظت کے لئے بھیرو کی شکل میں آتا ہے اور بھیرو کوتوال کے نام سے جانا جاتا ہے۔ کوتوال کے علاوہ بھیرو راہو اور یوگیوں کے دیوتا کے نام سے بھی جانا جاتا ہے۔ یوگی اور تانترک بھگت شدھی حاصل کرنے کے لئے خاص منتروں کی پڑھائی کے ساتھ ساتھ کئی طرح کی جسمانی مشقتیں بھی کرتے ہیں۔ یوگا اور تانترک یہ مشقیں نروان حاصل کرنے کے لئے کی جاتی ہیں۔ ان مشقوں کا ذکر بارہا گرو رجنیش المعروف اوشو نے بھی کیا ہے۔

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Flood Situation in Punjab: Police rescue 6,630 flood-tossed people

 

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

LAHORE: As many as 7,922 policemen across Punjab have so far evacuated 6,630 flood-hit people, including 29 families of Rahim Yar Khan district, 25 of Mandi Bahauddin and 20 of Chiniot.

According to a handout issued on Sunday, boats, trolleys and various vehicles are being used for relief activities by police teams who also rescued 5,203 cattle along with appurtenance of the affected people.

Similarly, police also provided 3,493 mud bags to the local administration.

In Gujranwala region, up to 3,102 persons and 1,904 cattle have so far been evacuated by police.

Mandi Bahauddin District Police Officer Syed Junaid Arshad himself rescued a three-day-old baby girl by driving a boat in Qadirabad area of the Chenab river.

As many as 2,530 traffic policemen have also been deputed to ensure vehicular movement in the affected areas.

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Urban rehabilitation: The rebirth of Lahore’s Gali Surjan Singh

An exciting report has been published on The Express Tribune about the renovation of Surjan Singh Street by the Punjab Govt with the help of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and World bank. Walled street is a gift of our ancestors with rich heritage to be proud of. We hope more such projects start and preserve this invaluable heritage.

Plaque of the renovated lane fixed next to an old lamp. A view of the street from the Delhi Gate. Residents of Surjan Singh Gali sip tea in their lane. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE/HASSAN NAQVI

Plaque of the renovated lane fixed next to an old lamp. A view of the street from the Delhi Gate. Residents of Surjan Singh Gali sip tea in their lane. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE/HASSAN NAQVI

Lahore: Located inside the Walled City’s Delhi Gate, Gali Surjan Singh is home to 13 residences. This week, conservation work on these homes and in the area received an ‘honourable mention’ from the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation for “efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value”.
The Gali Surjan Singh project includes a restoration of heritage architecture, replacement of infrastructure and services, including underground telecommunications, electricity, gas, water and sewerage. A total of 23 houses have been restored as part of the project, 13 of which were fully restored, and encroachments removed. Approximately Rs20 million was spent in the restoration of these 13 homes.
Gali Surjan Singh is named after Hakim Surjan Singh and it is believed that it dates back to the period of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1849. In 2007, the Punjab government received financial support from the World Bank and technical and financial assistance from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in order to begin a project of urban rehabilitation here that took into consideration the area’s historic nature and the lives of current residents. Continue reading

Photo Story: Rains play havoc with Lahore

Malik Omaid

Pictures after the recent bout of heavy rain.

It rained in Lahore for whole last night. Though it was nostalgic to hear the music of downpour in the dark whole but as the day came, the sad reality started to bite. These are some Photos of Lahore from today morning telling the story how last night heavy rain played havoc to the city.

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Newly built Kalma Underpass drowned deep under water.

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Huge infrastructure built just aside Minar-e- Pakistan but no attention given to sewerage system as usual.

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Students going to school in Lahore this morning , too bad they didn’t used metro bus.

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A good use of rain water is to make it a swimming pool, unhealthy though.

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Newly built infrastructure all drowned just because no attention given to sewerage system.

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A wonderful view of “Darya-e-Lahore”.

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A drowned Qadaffi stadium tells the competency of PCB officials.

 

My Eternal City

Lahore, Lahore aye.
By Pran Nevile

My Eternal City

No city in the subcontinent can boast of a more stirring or more turbulent history, or a stronger vitality, than Lahore—a city ruled by Hindu kings, Mughal emperors, Sikh monarchs, British sovereigns. Scholars, historians, and travelers passing through Lahore were enchanted by its majesty and grandeur. In the heyday of its glory as the capital of the Mughals, the city rose from semi-obscurity to eminence. It became the city of historical monuments and gardens. Lahore finds mention in John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. Thomas Moore in his celebrated Lalla Rookh describes the glittering life and pageantry of the palaces, domes, and gilded minarets of Lahore. Rudyard Kipling, the Nobel laureate who was raised in Lahore, immortalized the city in his writings.

The British rulers took active steps to safeguard and preserve old monuments and buildings of national interest and historical value. I remember that many new residential areas were developed in different parts of the city: Krishan Nagar, Sant Nagar, Ram Nagar, Ram Gullies, Krishna Gullies, Gowalmandi, Gandhi Square, Nisbet Road, Mozang and Quila Gujjar Singh. The most novel experiment was the construction of a modern township, Model Town, about six miles from the center, with spacious bungalow-type houses owned by the upper middle class of all communities. Continue reading

Photo of the Day: American Mystic in Data Darbar

Famous American mystic, Samuel Lewis, seen here with the keepers of the Sufi saint, Data Ganj Baksh’s shrine in Lahore (1962).

American Mystic

Photo and details courtesy Nadeem F Paracha, Dawn

THE MAGIC OF HARIDAS LAHORI!

Malik Omaid

BURIED FOR FORTY DAYS; WONDERFUL PERFORMANCES OF THE INDIAN FAKIRS.

Haridas

Originally published in the London Telegraph, August 22, 1880

We are not told whether the Seven Sleepers who retired to a cave in Ephesus during the reign of the Christian-killing Emperor Decius, and only woke up 155 years afterward, when Theodosins II was on the throne, made any special preparation, but probably they did not. Perhaps it was not necessary. Those were stirring times for members of the new faith, and they had little opportunity to grow obese.

But, as a rule, to fast successfully it is said to be necessary for a man to abstain beforehand, and reduce himself more carefully to the required condition by a long course of preparation. Pre-eminent at this art of suspending animation—for an art it becomes—are the Easterns, and most wonderful stories are told of the natives of India, which, whether they powers are due to narcotics or any other process, seem to open up—if true—a wide field of medical study.

Once of the Indian stories, not easily accessible, but of considerable interest on account of the known veracity of the witnesses, will probably be read with interest at the present time, and is inserted here. The author of it was one Hon. Capt. Osborn, and the notes made of his statement, here subjoined, come from an almost unique copy printed from private circulation. Continue reading

Photo of the Day: Neveein Maseet (Deep Level Mosque)

Malik Omaid

Badshahi Mosque may be the crown of Lahore’s heritage but there are dozens of historic mosques in Lahore, mainly inside walled city with amazing architecture. These mosques are not only old but many also have historic importance. One of those is Neevein Maseet of Deep level Mosque located between Lohari Gate and Shah Almi Gate inside Mati Chowk in Dograan Street. This Mosque is 12 Feet Deep from Ground Level .This Mosque was built by Nawab Zulifqar Khan . He was a man from Ladhi Family . This Mosque is one of oldest Mosques of Lahore.
Neevein Maseet

 

Photo and details by Liaquat Ali Vance

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Photo of the Day: A Hindu Temple in Sanda

Hindu Temple

The Photo was taken by @ShirazHassan