Tag Archives: Pakistan

The famed Purani Anarkali

 

A classic painting of Purani Anarkali, Lahore

A classic painting of
Purani Anarkali, Lahore

Jahangir’s Tomb, Lahore

The tomb of Emperor Jahangir who ruled India 1605-1027, is another jewel in the crown of Mughal architecture. The tomb is situated in Lahore, in Noor Jahan’s old pleasure garden known as Dilkusha Garden. The mausoleum is located at Shahdara on the banks of the Ravi, three miles northwest of the city. in the centre of which stands the magnificent sepulcher of Jahangir, considered by some to be the “finest ornament of Lahore,” and the “most magnificent edifice in the subcontinent after the Taj and the Qutub.”
The combination of red Sikri stone and white marble, an arrangement echoing Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, and a rare treat for Lahore not least for its intricate inlay, is impressive in its finesse and sophistication. Where the external expression is restrained in its dignified simplicity, internally decorative surfaces present you the best of tile mosaic and fresco that made Lahore famous in the whole of the Mughal Empire.
Following are some photos of the tomb “tweeted” by our twitter handle @lahorenama

 

Note: Info credit “ualberta” website, Photos credit “Kasim Osmani”.

The Waters of Lahore by Kamal Azfar (A Review)

Review by Iqbal Geoffrey

Dear Kamal Azfar

19252_the-waters-of-lahore-01Reading your book: THE WATERS OF LAHORE has imparted great pleasure and furnished enlightening information; therefore, this note is a symbol and a gift  from my  genuine appreciation while hoping  that you might  arrange its Urdu version  published as a subsidized edition. You may consider adding a separate chapter succinctly describing bluntly in your honest-to-goodness, straightforward style, e.g., what does the government need to do  as well as the  law-abiding denizens in Pakistan (systemically dehumanized by alien or fiendlike Rule of Low and Law off Rulers, though with no signs of Rule of Law in sight) over last five thousand years (and their Sing Along With Mitch cutlery, chumcha cha cha!) in  Pakistan. Now that the Land of the Pure (and helluva halva) has become not only a failed state, but also plundered, oppressed, almost bankrupted, and a Terrorist® state. Gone with the Raiwind are the good old days and inbetweenties glimpsing  any semblance/dynamics of wisdom or micro-iota regarding  Values or Vision. The Hyperbole and intimate Manage a Trois are very-very ‘In’.

Rather remarkably ­– in between the lines — your book reads like art criticism. Moreover, no civilization has ever flourished progressively without first excelling in arts. Within the unfortunate State of Pakistan the ubiquitous coterie of nouveau riche/ deep-pocket riffraff and semi-illiterate politicians (rudderless + ruthlessly on-the-take) compounded by  rabid bureaucrats (low-ranking Machiavellis) are instead coyly dismantling what is left of Pakistan. One in PTI/ one in ML(N)/ one Independent Syndrome. Jinnah must be turning in his grave. Right now we encounter déjà vu of 1999 when forex reserves were miserably down to $400 millions, that too S.O.S-borrowed at exorbitantly high commercial rates. Please propose what needs to be done. I will, in  deeds, state of art illustrate it !!!

As your former GCL  classmate and causa honoris fan, I ought to mention two item thoughts. ZAB (a poet-of-politics deserving criticism in the Surah 26 : 226 Sense) actually was not all that ‘not-corrupt’. When Bhutto visited my Studio (or Clinic for the Sake of AesthE T H I C S) in Central  Park West (at the Mayflower) or later in Beekman Place, NYC 21 , I humbly pontificated  that bigotry must not be encouraged by anyone whatsoever, i.e.,  no one may designate/label or even subliminally  belittle any other person’s faith, nor tempt invidious exodus or determine their faith or stigmatize any school of thought. By Officially (draconically) branding the Ahmadis as ‘non-Muslims®’. He  acted disgracefully and unleashed a  palpable Pandora box mix for our vintage/ perverse (perhaps even worse) halala-smitten/happy Mullah, Moolah and Mega- Mediocrity in order to exploit and plunder. Now chickens are coming home for roasting up Shias. God mentions in the Holy Koran that on the day of Judgment He will judge everyone in accordance with his faith. So Culprits cannot escape exemplary punishment.

Moreover, Bhutto used to boast before his Sitting Ducks that he manifested two personas (euphoria of split personality, I presume); one private (seductive actresses + Invigorated Rooh-e Afzaa + surreptitious verbal  ‘marriage’ with Ravishing Husna Sheikh — where is the Bengal Beauty?? = la dolce vita a la mode at  State-with-dwindling-resources expense account), and The Other his (illusionary) public (= commercial)  personage (Roti, Kappra, Aur Makkan + phony “Liend Reforms” phantom/hype).

During 1969 (when he invited Dr. Zafar Aziz Khan and me), I asked him point-blank why await  becoming the PM to implement his promised and worthy  ‘Land’-Reforms, why not initiate and functionalize/fructify that very day since charity and all good deeds (like justice) begin with home, however, I would simultaneously join him, donate all my existing resources, I am a bit short of being a Kuwaiti Currency Billionaire, I must admit, ‘how short’ is my Tashkent $ecret) : he responded that he  had  a family to support and I retorted on the spot to his sudden surprise:  ‘But; everyone is suffering from that dis-ease’. It turned him pinkier! He become fidgety. Dr. ZAK graciously walked out on him along with me from the debilitated Falettis which was ruining itself after The Oberoi Family had to leave.

The Tashkent Secret” (another Bhutto Bluff!)  simply was that we triumphantly lost that war too.  Mein ne dekha:    also as a citizen of the global village, I felt very sorry for the Motherland, Raftarr Tez Haey – -  mugger Suffer ahissta-ahissta. The cutting-edge bottom-line is  that actually, soon after that Bhutto (albeit innocent  Yatra),  Janab A.K. Brohi,  To err is human, confided  to me  that  Bhutto  would  not win  a  single  seat  even  from  native Sindh..

Since the Dacca  (double entendre , it also means dacoiting in my Penglish) Marrowing of l971, over 300 billion dollars have been money-laundered  illicitly out to offshore havens as sacrosanct nest-eggs. Although I strongly oppose Death Penalty in present day Just Ice Pakistan, as an exception to the rule I humbly favour brutal public hangings of economic Fitna-Fasaad  caterers per the Commandment of God. Caliph Hazrat Omer, RA  condemned hypocrisy as the worst of  sins and calibrated that one who appeases in a wrong is far worse than the wrong-monger.

Our present day  role model  Prime Munster, Haji Sir Nawaz SharrrrReef’s (HonGCMG 1997 violating Art. 254) two sons have  already proudly become British citizens with Right of Abode which re-minds me the brilliant obiter dicta  that MohtrimA Meena Kumari (born in  Mitha Tiwana, District KhushAAB = Good Waters off of  the Chenab River ) lisped in the playback surroundsound of Lata Mangheshkar: Innhi loggounn ne lay liyya dupatta mera…  

Also there exists  a lucid, tell-tale  Urdu  lyric (ghazzal), ahead of its time (as is all art) narrating  requiem for  ZAB during his own lifetime, by the greatest poet of the XX century (albeit from Montgomery), Munir Niazi, RA.  I will appreciate your corrective views about  the aforesaid aspects of some burning issues which are of burgeoning incendiary concern to the common, law-abiding citizenry of Pakistan who find themselves Iraq and a hard placebo.

Iqbal Hussain: The agony and the ecstasy

DSC_1540 copy WITHOUT RIGHTSIqbal Hussain’s new work reveals a darkly poignant preoccupation with death, an artistic crisis born of the violence in our midst. But this work may yet survive the changing cultural topography of Pakistan, says Raza Rumi

Being stuck in an awful traffic jam on Lahore’s Mall Road is an everlasting nightmare. This was the road which once housed the tempestuous and famously poly-amorous painter Amrita Shergil, as well as the grand old man of Indian writing in English, the legendary Khushwant Sigh, among other lost symbols of our bygone past. But mine was not a fruitless journey: I was heading to the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery at the National College of Arts (NCA), where Iqbal Hussain’s new work was being displayed. I would not hav e gone to see this exhibition had I not heard about the significance of the show from the proficient curator of the gallery Qudsia Raheem. I liked to meet Iqbal Hussain in the throes of the walled city where he has reinvented a space for himself among his own people — entertainers, artists, traders, sex workers and a multitude of local and global visitors. Iqbal Hussain has been successful through his personal endeavors to put Lahore’s old city and its infamous red light district on the world map. He has achieved this primarily through his stupendous paintings and sublime rooftop views of Mughal monuments from the Cooco’s Den Café he owns and manages.

DSC_1510 copy WITHOUT RIGHTSIqbal Hussain’s work over the decades has brought to life the shades and aspects of sex workers from Heera Mandi around whom Hussain grew up. Most importantly, he is proud of his heritage and origins and, unlike the hypocritical and self-denying society in which he lives, he has publicly claimed ownership of this background. His work has obsessively captured the many narratives about the women who are central to Heera Mandi. In doing this, Hussain has humanized the portraits of the “dancing girl”, the aging prostitute and the honorable livelihood earner. Contrary to the religious decrees on such women, or the excessive romanticization of dancing girls in our culture, Hussain’s subjects are nothing but human. They are real and vulnerable while blessed with the ability to sing, dance and celebrate life and sex. In our socially conservative culture, made even more so since the advent of Victorian values in what was then British India, such characters have been the recipients of much derision. Hussain, through his momentous collection of paintings, has countered every stereotype and cliché that comes to mind about such women. Continue reading

Foodistan (Lahore, Pakistan)

Irfan Rydhan

Recently, I came back from a month long trip to Lahore – the culinary capital of Pakistan.

Lahore, has a wide variety of cuisine, from fancy upscale Italian restaurants to the simple Pakistani village food and everything in between.

A few tips for those of you who may be traveling to Pakistan soon:

1. Get Your Shots – Before you Travel (Currently Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Malaria are the main diseases in Pakistan)

2. Don’t Drink The Water – unless it’s Bottled and Sealed (Nestle PureLife is the most reliable brand)

3. Don’t Eat Street Food – unless it is fried up, steaming hot, or cooked well done!  Avoid eating anything cold or something made with water.

If you follow those 3 simple rules, you should be fine and not get sick!

Below is a short slideshow of my trip through “Foodistan” aka Lahore this past February.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, as much as I enjoyed eating all the delicious food:)!

Fresh Butter on hand-made Aloo Paratha (Bread stuffed with Potato) in the Pind (Village)
Fresh Butter on hand-made Aloo Paratha (Bread stuffed with Potato) in the Pind (Village) Continue reading

Lahore – a short poem

By Gohar Sadaf Qureshi

Image

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 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.

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)

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!

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

(left) SELF=PORTRAIT  WON  [l972-2000]:  ‘SADDENED  MONA LISA SWEATING  ( PASEENA-PASEENA) IN THE SHALIMAR GARDENS ON HER RECENT LAHORE YATRA - – (she is not  a young debutante, anymore) – - , AND NOTHING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT GEOFFREY’S  MOTHERLAND being drained per  LAW OFF RULERS AND THEIR CUTLERY: OIL AND MIXED MEDIA,  3-D+ RELIEF; (SCULPTURAL ARTWORK MADE WITH FIBREGLASS ON PLEXIGLASS).  SIZE 25 inches X 20 ½ inches.

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.)

Continue reading

The struggle for Pakistan and Bhagat Singh:

By Haroon Khalid

 

The independence achieved in 1947 ushered a new era for India and Pakistan, but with it, also marked the end of a legacy. For India and Pakistan, Congress and Muslim League respectively became the vanguard of independence from the British Empire. Whereas there is no denying the fact that both of them played a pivotal role in achieving freedom, nonetheless there were also other parties and movements, who had the laid groundwork for these two to build on. Without their impact and achievements, perhaps these two parties would not have been able to achieve the success that they eventually did. Post independence, the credit that should have been given to the former parties was taken away from them.

In India, the Indian National Congress was generally more receptive to political activists from other parties and movements, who also were able to shake the foundations of the British Empire. In Pakistan however, all of the former movements became a relic of the impure-Hindu-mixed past, which needed sifting. We ended up with fine grains starting with Muhammad Bin Qasim, coming to Babur and Aurangzeb, and ending with Muhammad Ali Jinnah. All the other characters were just not required anymore. So whereas in India, despite their differences, the Congress government was acknowledging the contributions of Bhagat Singh, M.N. Roy and other nationalist leaders, we were purging our historical narratives of these kafirs.

Recently I met an army official, whom I would not name for my own safety, who like me also follows the history Lahore. Talking about various obscure and neglected monuments, we reached to the Shadman Chowk (Bhagat Singh chowk), where Bhagat Singh was hanged. I asked him why we couldn’t own Bhagat Singh as a son of Lahore, to which he answered that since he was a Sikh. My dear friend, he was an atheist!

However it is not because of him being a Sikh or an atheist that we fail to own him. It is because nowhere in his struggle, he talks about Hindus and Muslims separately. Neither does he only talk about the plight of just one community. He talked about an entire nation, which composed of people from all religious hues and not. So it would have hardly made a difference had he been Muhammad Aslam or Bhagat Sadiq Ram. There would have been no room from him in the historiography of Pakistan’s Independence struggle. Students of history would have continued thinking that the role of Muhammad Bin Qasim in freeing the Muslims of British India from the British Empire (secretly working for the Hindu baniya) is greater than the role Muhammad Aslam’s hanging did. To further establish the point, let us leave Bhagat Singh aside for a moment and talk about practicing Muslims who also like him, gave up their lives for the independence of their nation but were later disowned or never acknowledged by an independent Pakistan.

The Gaddar Movement is an example of one such struggle which has been thrown off into the sea to keep the boat of Pakistani Nationalism afloat. Having originated from San Francisco and other British colonies, this movement had its roots in the Punjab because of the predominant role that the Punjabis played in it. Bhagat Singh’s father and uncles were also members of this movement, and it is argued that it became the source of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha. Contrary to the popular belief, there were many non-Sikhs involved. This was a massive movement which spread from USA into Canada, Mexico, Burma, Malaya and Japan. Indians living in these far away regions got together for the cause of the freedom of this land. It also found support in the Communist Russia and Afghanistan. In 1915, the Gaddaris established a Free Hindustan government-in-exile in Kabul. Its President was Raja Mohinder Pratab, whereas its Prime Minister was a Muslim, and a Professor of Arabic in Japan, Maulvi Barkatullah. He was also one of the founders of the Gaddar Party. It was his revolutionary literature that became the backbone of this movement. He died in San Fransico. Among other Muslims, who held important positions in the government-in-exile were Maulvi Ubaidullah (Interior Minister) and Maulvi Muhammad Bashi (Youth Minister). The callous treatment meted out to these towering Muslim personalities of their time leads one to question: is it then just because of the religious beliefs of Bhagat Singh that we fail to acknowledge him or is there something else?

There was another Muslim, who played an important role in this movement. This was Syed Rahmat Ali Shah, the first Martyr of this struggle. He was captured near Ferozpur, and then executed in the Montgomery (Sahiwal) Jail. His body was interred in the graveyard in front of the Jail, as nobody came to claim it in the required period. His grandsons today live a life of abject poverty in a small village on the Sundar-Raiwind road called Sultan-keh. They know that their grandfather was an important person, because their father had been called to India once, where he was given an award and a picture on behalf of his father. They say that the name of their grandfather is also written at the entrance to their ancestral village of Wazir Keh in India.

A strategy that the Gadaris had adopted was of secretly passing on revolutionary literature to the Indians in the British Army. In a lot of instances this proved to be a successful tactic, as quite a few regiments revolted against the authorities. One such example was the 5th Native Light Infantry Singapore Case, which included 2 regiments of Infantry, both of them dominated by Muslims. The Gaddar Movement was supporting all sorts of Independence struggle, which were targeted against the British authorities, which is why they also lend their hand to the Khalifat Movement. Mujataba Hussain, aka Mool Chand of the Gaddar Movement played an important role in this Singapore case, where a lot of the Muslim personnel were sympathetic to the cause of the Khilafat. Similarly there was another person from Gujrat called Mian Qasim Mansoor, a rich trader, who financed the scheme. This particular case caused a lot of problems to the authorities. Finally when it was crushed, all the officers had to face Court Martial and many of them were executed on the 2nd of March 1915.

The Gaddar Movement unlike the movement of the All India Muslim League was not a predominant Muslim struggle, but a cause for all the oppressed people of India, who wanted to get rid of the British yoke. The focus of this article has been on a few prominent Muslims in the movement to shed a light on the fact that the Muslim League was not the first political party to have attracted the Muslims. Much before this party was to become a prominent player in the Indian political sphere; secular movements like the Gaddar were already involving Muslims. However when the Muslim League came to power, it downplayed the role of all the other parties, which could have possibly undermined its thesis. However the struggle it claimed to have won single handedly would not have been possible without the sacrifices of Barkatullah, Syed Rahmat Ali, Mujataba Hussain, Mian Qasim Mansoor and Bhagat Singh.

Stories of sex-workers in Heera Mandi, Lahore and beyond

Posted by Raza Rumi

A TV journalist prepared this bold documentary for a news channel but it was never aired for obvious reasons – electronic media remains conservative about taboo subjects. The documentary provides great insights into the way women live, work and identify themselves as sex-workers in Lahore’s oldest red-light district known as Heera Mandi (Diamond Market) ironically next to the great Badshahi mosque. Coverage of Multan in the later parts is also interesting.

The narrator obviously has his biases – the usual refrain of middle class Muslims of the subcontinent – but he tries hard to remain neutral and investigative. There is a good dose of Mujras inserted into the series for the viewers; and tit bits of the Hollywood/Bollywood melodrama on the oppressed ‘tawaif’ (prostitute). Whilst tragedies bring these women to the sex-trade, not all of them lament their lives. If anything, Mirza Ruswa’s Umrao Jan (way back in the nineteenth century) was pretty comfortable and empowered by her profession. Similarly, one of the interviewees says: “money is the father, mother and everything for tawaifs”. The head of Kanjar biradri says that girls are taught to be ‘men’, earning ‘horses’ fooling their clients! Not to be missed.

My favourite is the ‘client’ who confesses how intoxicating it is to be “in love” with a sex worker. One gets tired of ‘using’ a wife all the time he says. Wish this documentary had been aired.

The language of these videos is Urdu so it might not be accessible to all the visitors here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyRYGczqsQo&feature=related Continue reading

Sikh Yatrees at Wagha Station, Lahore

LAHORE: Over 2,900 Sikh Yatrees from India and thousands of others from all over the world including America, Canada , UK, Europe, and from parts of Sindh have reached Nankana Sahib to participate in the celebrations which will continue till November 11.

Photo by : Daily Express.

 

Lohari Gate of Lahore, A Rare Image.

A rare image of Lahori Gate, one of the 13 gates of Lahore. It was taken by an unknown photographer in 1900.

 

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

 

 

 

‘Dingi’ (Dengue) Fever in Lahore

Prof Farakh A Khan

According to WHO (1999) 2.5 billion people are at risk of dengue virus infection in 200 countries. Before 1970 only nine countries had dengue fever. The mortality is about 5%, which can be reduced to 1% with proper treatment in the hospital. Dengue viral infection has become the leading public health problem.

According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention USA dengue infection places more than 1/3rd population of the world at risk. Every year 100 million people get infected.

The first case of dengue virus in Pakistan was reported in 1996 and incidence started to rise in 2003-2004 (Shahid, Jamal. Govt blames lifestyle for dengue spread. Dawn. September 22, 2011). The dengue viral attack reached epidemic proportions in Lahore during the summer of 2011. The number of people down with dengue viral infection in Lahore can only be a vague conjecture since we have no system to collect reliable statistics. Our rough estimate is that more than 100,000 people in Lahore have so far been infected if the recorded deaths are to be relied upon. There have been 98 reported deaths allegedly due to dengue haemorrhagic fever in Lahore (Nine more die of dengue in Lahore. OC. The News. September 24, 2011).

First let us analyse what the Pakistani papers have been feeding us in this regard. Continue reading

On shaky grounds

By Haroon Khalid

Next to the planetarium, close to the old Anar Kali, a tall, cone-shaped Jain Temple greeted the visitor once. This was situated in the centre of the road, with two roads passing around it. Next to it are wooden balconies, with intricate designs on them; part of the original complex. This was one of the three Jain temples in Lahore, according to Jainworld.com. The other ones were inside the Bhatti gate and on Ferozepur road, near Model Town. The temple stood in the middle of this bifurcation of roads, which earned this junction the name of Jain Mandar Chowk. Years of religious disuse had resulted in severe depredation of the structure. It various compartments, originally used by visiting pilgrims, students and priests, are now taken up by refugees of the partition of 1947. Their interconnected rooms have been permanently closed by mortar and bricks, as the demand of privacy increased among the new occupants. Larger rooms were divided into two, or sometimes even more, and the surplus ones rented out. All of these small rooms entertain much more people, then meant to. A cycle tire repairperson had made a makeshift shop on the pavement, next to the temple, many years ago, and still sits here.

Then came the dreadful morning of 6th December 1992, and thousands of people converged towards the historical Babri Mosque, at Ayodhya, India. Within hours the Hindu fanatics, who wanted to correct the historical wrong that the first Mughal Emperor Babar committed, razed the structure. Their argument; Babar had destroyed a Hindu temple, meant to commemorate the spot, where the mythical Hindu King Ram was born, to build this mosque.

This unleashed a chain of events that had repercussions thousands of kilometers away in Pakistan. In the following days, rightist leaders in Pakistan aroused the sentiments of the people and they, in thousands, attacked various Hindu temples in the city, and all over the country. They attacked with axes, hammers, rods, guns, and even bare-hands. One of the mobs also attacked this landmark temple, and brought it to ground. Little that they knew, this was a Jain temple and not a Hindu one; a different religion altogether. The Jains are a pacifist religious group, who believe to the extent that the life of an insect or an ant is also worth preserving; but then what is the rationale behind a charged mob’s thinking. The cone-shaped structure that once served as the link between a non-Pakistani past now lies desecrated, inside a walled enclosure that was built around it. The tire repairperson still sits outside. The bifurcation was rechristened Babri chowk, in the honor of Babri mosque. However, no wagon, bus or rickshaw driver would know where the Babri chowk is; the bifurcation is still known as the Jain Mandar chowk, even without the Jain Mandar, a tribute to the desecrated temple, by the people of Lahore.

While there was a mob busy bringing down this structure, there was another charged one that took the direction of the Sitla Mandir, which was in between the Shah Alami and Lohari Gates. This was believed to be ancient temple, attended by Hindus and non-Hindus alike before the partition of British India. It was believed that a dip at the pool, which was next to the temple, could cure all skin diseases. Tara Chand, a 78 years old Hindu, living in Lahore tells me that for Diwali, a large number of people used to come to the temple, including Muslim women with their children.

The cone shaped structure is still standing and is visible from afar. It is a triple storey building, with each floor now carved up, ingeniously, to cater to the increasing population demand. One the first floor, there is a Madrassa Noor-ul-Quran. Original black and white tiles of the pre-partition times are still present. However the floor is uneven, because of severe damage wrought to it during the attack. Regardless of the predicament, the madrassa still functions, and people continue to live. There is a Mewati family living on the top floor of the temple. An old woman from the family told me that she bought that particular area for Rs. 60,000 from the head Qari at the temple. She was living here when the temple was attacked. Ironically, she told us, it was the same Qari, who ran the madrassa at that time, who lead the attack.

There were 2 other temples here too, all of which were attacked. This temple was lucky in particular as it survived the attack. There is a mosque next to this temple, which was built after the destruction of a temple here. “The mob had brought a crane with them, which they used to bring down the structure,” said the woman. She tells us about a passionate devotee who had climbed to the top of the structure damaging the temple with his axe, when the entire structure fell. “He became an instant Shaheed,” she added. The Qari continued teaching at the madrassa inside the Sitla temple, but quit a few years ago. A small plate which reads “Ya Allah” decorates the niche at the top of the structure. Its historical pool has been filled and a Jinnah park for the community has been made.

About 10 kilometers from here, inside the famous Thokar Niaz Baig, there is an ancient Hindu temple. This was the Bhadrakali Mandar, dedicated to an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Durga Mata. This was a huge complex, with various smadhs (stupas), a baoli (a huge well, with stairs that led to the base), an ancient Banyan tree, a pool and two temples. According to Tahrikh-e-Lahore, written by Kanhiya Lal, this temple used to host the largest Hindu festival in and around the city of Lahore. There is no historical account of one of the temple buildings, which served as the main one, but another huge structure with a dome was summoned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, when he became the King of Punjab, according to Lal. This structure was never used as a temple. Now a government primary school functions in it. The smadhs have been filled, the pool covered, the Baoli lost, and the Banyan tree cut. The original temple, now houses several Mewati families that migrated to Pakistan in 1947. They have wrought various changes to the structure to cater to their demand.

A couple of years ago, when I visited the temple for my thesis the people living inside the temple were destroying the structure. When I asked them, their reason was that the structure had become weak and was a threat to the people living inside it.

An old man, who requested to stay anonymous, from Niaz Baig, told me that following 1992 a mob attacked the temple, led by a proscribed organization, based here. However, before much damage could be wrought, the elderly of the locality dissuaded them. They argued that this is no longer a temple, but serves a primary school. The school children would be the only one affected by this action. This way the temple was saved, however, severe damage was wrought to the other building, which is now it is being razed to make way for a securer structure.

Samadhi Maharaja Ranjit Singh


Photograph of the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh at Lahore, Pakistan, taken by George Craddock in the 1880s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views.  Lahore is the capital of Punjab province, is considered the cultural centre of Pakistan.

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

A visit to Bhagat Singh’s village

by Haroon Khalid

Amongst the numerous Punjabi patriots that have been borne over centuries, arguably, Sardar Bhagat Singh’s personality stands as the tallest in stature, fame, and sacrifice. However, a strange event occurred after the death of this son of Punjab. The land that he called his mother got divided into two parts. This partition not only divided land but also mentalities, families and heroes. A strong sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ were forged, to invoke patriotism, justifying the partition, or the betrayal, fueling nationalism. What is Indian is anti-Pakistani and vice-versa.

In this division of history, where does Bhagat Singh stand? He was an Indian when he died, but can he become a Pakistani after Pakistan, based on his ancestral village. Logic has it that he should become an Indian like Allama Iqbal became a Pakistani. We know that Bhagat Singh was an atheist. Can Pakistanis even dare to own atheist heroes? Now that is a path I am frightened to tread on. Continue reading

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

Revisions to the ‘facts’ on Mubarak Haveli of Lahore

M has sent this piece for Lahore Nama shedding light on the well-known Mubarak Haveli located in old Lahore. This piece was written in response to the information found on this blog. I am publishing this ‘correction’ of facts for the readers. No wonder there is not a single history but several narratives of the past. Raza Rumi

•    During the rule of Muhammad Shah, three amirs namely Bahadur Ali, Nadir Ali, and Babur Ali constructed a haveli in Mochi Gate area. Coinciding with its completion Bahadur Ali was blessed with a son and thus the haveli was named Mubarak Haveli. Prince Shah Shuja ul-Mulk was made to stay at this haveli by Ranjeet Singh, who later forced the prince to surrender Koh-i-Noor to him. Continue reading