by Rai Muhammad Azlan Shahid
The Rule of Sher Shah Suri that started in 1540 has always been considered as one of the best eras this land has ever seen in recent history. He remained ruler of India only for five years, but those five years were marked by progress and reform. Jarneli Sarak also known as GT Road in India is one of his great achievements. During his rule he worked on infrastructure of territory, three major roads were constructed on his order and collectively these roads are thousands of miles in length. First road was from Sanaar village to river Sindh, the second road connected Bengal to Agra, and the third road was built to connect Lahore to Delhi. Along with major roads link roads were also built, trees were planted on the both sides of the roads; inns were built at every 2 Kos (3.6KM) with all the required facilities.
When Jalal u Din Akbar became the king of India, he announced Lahore as his capital city and built 30 feet high wall around the city and 13 gates to enter in the city. One of the gates is facing towards Delhi and that is why it was named as Delhi Gate. First Kos Tower (just like milestone in Kos unit) is situated around 3.6 Km away from Delhi gate.
Historians have different opinions over its construction, as some of the historians have declared it construction of Suri era and some declare that Akbar built it. However, history books also mention that Mughal King Jahangir was also keen to facilitate the travellers and passengers. In 14th year of his rule, trees on the both sides of Lahore to Arga road were planted, after every Kos a tower was built that is known as Kos Tower or Kos Minaar, every Kos tower used to have a proper well of water. Such facts indicate that there were proper facilities for the travellers on the Lahore to Delhi road even before the Jahangir era and for this achievement credit goes to Sher Shah Suri and his vision. However still it is not clear if this Kos Tower was built by Jalal u Din Akber or Sher Shah Suri.
This historic Kos tower is situated in Garhi Shahu another historic and famous part of the city Lahore. There was a time when these towers were the guide to the travellers from all four directions but today it is standing in fact hidden and surrounded by the populous Nashtar Park. The easiest way to reach Kos tower is to follow Allama Iqbal road (Meo Road) from railway station to Taj Cinema Chowk, from here on the left side of Mughalpura Road of Garhi Shahu one can see this tower a few feet away from Karachi Phatak (gate). It looks like some chimney of good old days however it was one of the important part of any travel on this road when most of the travel was done either by walking or by Ox driven cart.
During British era when Roads were being reconstructed, milestones replaced Kos tower. The first milestone of Lahore was installed on GT road that used to connect Lahore to Delhi. Today that part of the road is known as Lower Mall Road, as per legends closed gate of Government College Lahore is the point where the milestone was installed. However, in 1975 that milestone was rooted out while extending the road. The second milestone of Lahore was installed in McLeod Road, luckily that milestone is still standing there at the green belt of Imperial cinema (moon light cinema) square between hall road and Lakshmi Chowk (Square), another milestone that still exists is standing in Lahore cantonment. The milestone at McLeod road has historical importance with the clear words engraved on it saying “Lahore 1 Mile and Delhi 311 Mile”.
The only existing mile stone of older days and the Kos tower are historical landmarks but still they are examples of our carelessness. The special buildings act 1985 and Punjab ordinance number 1985 is there with clear guideline on how to treat such objects. According to article number 11 of this act, in the 200 feet radios of any historical or special building no new building or changes should be made. Still the 30 feet high Kos tower is surrounded by the residential area of Railway Colony (Nashtar Park), railway line has replaced the Jarneli Sarhak. The way Kos tower is being treated as filth depot it demands serious attention from the city district government. Authorities must take steps to preserve this Kos tower and milestone along with other dying historical monuments of the city.