Category Archives: Architecture

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.

Building with the inscription

The half-burnt building in Shah Alam Market tells the story of a bank that was never meant to be

From the foundation stone to the very inch of the complete structure – every building encompasses a journey. But some stories always remain untold like the story of Gobind Ram and Hindustan Commercial Bank. Sixty years since the partition of India and the building with the inscription ‘Gobind Ram Kahan’ and ‘Hindustan Commercial Bank Established 1805′ still remains amidst the hustle bustle of vendors, gold and crockery traders of Rang Mahal in the walled city.

Badar Munir Butt of AL-Sadiq Jewellers was four years old in 1947. Though he faintly remembers the partition violence he has heard stories about Gobind Ram and the building. His shop is adjacent to the half burnt building. According to him, Gobind Ram owned a shop at the ground floor of the present building. Trader of achaar, chatni and sharbat, Gobind Ram’s sharbat was very famous in this area. Supposedly, one of the richest men in this area he was well-respected too. And, with money comes influence. When he, with his family, left Lahore for India he had put the money and jewellery in the basement of this same building. Some years after the partition he came here with Army officials from both India and Pakistan and took away all the jewellery and money that they had kept safe in the basement. To the neighbours’ dismay, the loads of gold and money kept lying there all those years without them knowing about it.

According to an elderly man who owns a shop in the basement of the building.and also one of the oldest residents of the area, Gobind Ram’s sharbat was “famous and if one bought it for one takka, one would reach Amritsar but the sharbat wouldn’t finish.”

All the gates of Lahore survived the violence of partition except the Shah Alam Gate which was destroyed along with other buildings in this area. From Shah Alam to Rang Mahal, this was the sole building that survived and that only because it was a new building. Some myths follow the existence of a trench in the basement that goes to the Lahore Fort.

The branch of Hindustan Commercial Bank for which the new building was made never saw the light of the day. Established in 1805 one branch of the bank was supposed to be opened here in Lahore and Gobind Ram was among the partners.

Majeed Sheikh, a renowned historian, informed that The Hindustan Commercial Bank Lahore was to be one of the five branches of the bank that was established in 1805 and whose first branch was opened in Amritsar. The bank opened in Bengal on January 2, 1809. Two branches were to be opened in Lahore, one here in the walled city and the other in Neela Gumbad. “After 1965 war with India the building was declared enemy property.”

During the partition the present area of Rang Mahal, Suha Bazaar and the adjoining area was a Hindu majority area. A Baowli, a reminiscence of the Sikh history in Lahore, was also situated in this area. The Baowli was destroyed during the partition violence. But some Sikhs visit it even today to remember the long forgotten ghosts. Dr Khan, the Chief Minister of One Unit, got the Baowli renovated during his government. Haveli Mian Khan, also located here, now has almost hundred small houses in its premises. Settlement Department gave the houses on claim while some were built.

Kashmiri Bazaar was the hub of trade in pre-partition days. There was a press and several famous shops in this locality. Being a Hindu majority area the trade and business of this area was also controlled by Hindus. Now the building is encircled by garment shops, gold market and crockery.

This article was originally posted here written by Sarah Sikander.

Lahore Lore

Mobeen Ansari

Mobeen Ansari’s sensitive photography tells tales of vibrant lives lived out amidst wistfully neglected structures

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History speaks out..

 

Lahore is not my city. This allows me to view it with a mixture of foreignness and belonging; as simultaneous insider and outsider – removed enough to be endlessly fascinated by it, close enough to be able to photograph it consistently. The Badshahi, Wazir Khan and Lahore Fort may be clichéd photographic pursuits but I never get enough of the new angles and insights they afford me each time.

Early morning view of Wazir Khan Mosque

Early morning view of Wazir Khan Mosque

I went on my routine old Lahore photography trips around fajr time each time I drove down to Lahore from Islamabad; had been doing that for a few years, but i wanted to get into the heart of these neighbourhoods, really peek into people’s lives and capture their stories. One day I got lucky. Walking into Masjid Wazir Khan – it was my second time there – I struck up a conversation with the Imaam of the masjid, sharing with him my curiosity about the man said to have built the mosque – Ilm-ud-Din Ansari. Since I shared his surname I wondered if I also shared his lineage. The Imaam asked for my ID card, squinted at my full name and asked me to follow him deep into the neighborhood, into alleys beyond Delhi Darwaaza that I could never have discovered on my own. He knocked at a door and asked for keys, I think to different areas of the mosque; one of these keys he gave to me, of a minaret I had never expected to be allowed to climb, knowing as I did that it is ordinarily closed to all visitors.

Back at the mosque I lugged my heavy camera bag up the high Mughal-era steps. The suffocating dankness of the minaret gave way to a clear Lahori dawn that I observed from a unique vantage point. The height afforded fascinating aerial glimpses into the lives of the residents of the old city sprawled out below me.

Andron Lahore on the occassion of 12 Rabbiul Awal

Andron Lahore on the occassion of 12 Rabbiul Awal

 

Once every week I go to Lahore for work – meetings, shoots etc. So I had gone to Lahore for one night only for a meeting. When I got done with my work I met up with a friend from college who was also in town. Both of us had laptops and camera bags but no car. We had dinner, took a rickshaw to a cinema to watch a movie, and at midnight came out into the freezing and foggy Lahore night. We walked and rickshawed (changing six of them!) till we reached his place, warmed ourselves with some chai and set out for androon Lahore, managing to get there just before dawn. It was the morning of the 12th of Rabi-ul-Avval (the Prophet’s birthday) and the night’s lights hadn’t been turned off as yet. In the eerie twilight glow, before many people had woken up we roamed the labyrinthine alleys of androon sheher and experienced it like never before in the magical hours between sleeping and waking. Why I am so obsessed with going to these places early in the morning is because there’s no rush at that time and you can see history clearly.

run-down houses in Lahore

run-down houses in Lahore

Click here to see wonderful collection of pictures by the writer:

A New Gateway to An Old World

By Shahzada Irfan Ahmed

Picture this. You enter the Walled City from Delhi Gate and find yourself in a ‘unique’ setting — one you are completely unfamiliar with. The Mughal era buildings you see on both sides of the road wear a majestic look. The ambience, the architecture, the colour scheme, the sweetness of the music on play and the artistic illumination of these buildings are stunning, to say the least.

The streets are clean and there are shops, courtyards and pavements where traditional food and drinks as well as crafts are on offer.

Irfan 6

You may also find small inns where you can sit back with your friends and enjoy a sip of indigenous ‘qahwa.’ A few steps away, you are likely to come across a place where you can see well-built men wrestling with each other in an earthen pit.

The biggest relief, perhaps, would be the absence of motorized vehicles and the noise and smoke that is generated thereof.

There are parts of the Walled City where the pedestrians can tread without fear of being crushed by a fast moving vehicle. For once, vehicles of all sorts are barred from entering the areas making them navigable on foot.

Irfan 7

All this may seem like a fairy tale but, in fact, it is not. Fortunately, for the people of Lahore in particular and Pakistan in general, an ongoing project promises all this and much more. Called ‘Sustainable Development of Walled City Lahore Project,’ it was launched in 2006 by the Punjab government in conjunction with the World Bank. The budget estimate for phase one is Rs70 crore, which will be shared equally by both the partners.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture agreed to provide technical expertise and carry out surveys that cover topography, water quality, socio-economic conditions, geographical information system (GIS) etc of the Walled City.

Irfan 2

Initially, it was a project but later, in 2010, a body called the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) was set up under an Act by the Punjab Assembly. The main purpose of the move was to help sustain the restoration work irrespective of which party is in power.

The project suffered some delays in the past due to various reasons including shortage of funds, non-cooperation of locals, resistance by commercial interests etc. For long there was a feeling that the project will not go on as planned and may be abandoned altogether. However, some recent developments have infused hope among those involved directly or indirectly with the project.

One such development is the association of prominent bureaucrat Kamran Lashari with the project as director general of the WCLA. Having a significant track record of successfully carrying out heritage/conservation projects, many believe he is the best person to complete the task.

The project is of equal importance to all as heritage has to have common ownership, says Lashari. His point is that it is imperative for Pakistanis to have something which they can relate to with pride, especially when they are facing a crisis of identity.

Irfan 5

He explains that the Walled City project is not about merely setting up a food street, refurbishing a monument or repairing a trail. It is about comprehensive urban regeneration where every aspect of day-to-day life will be taken into account and displayed in totality.

“If we can properly showcase our history, food, architecture, culture and traditions at one place, it would be a great achievement,” he says.

The first phase of the project entails complete restoration of the heritage architecture along a 383-metre route and 57 streets falling on the main trail. A total population of 5,951 individuals and 513 houses will benefit from this phase which will be complete by November this year.

Irfan 1

Later, the Authority intends to start talking to donors for the next phase, says Lashari who is confident this dream will become a reality.

A major part of project money will be spent on laying of quality infrastructure for provision of gas, electricity, water and sanitation. The dangling electricity wires, which give an unpleasant look, will be concealed in pipes and the sanitation scheme will be kept underground.

Tariq Iqbal, a teacher in his early 40s, is relieved to find several encroachments removed from inside the Delhi Gate and the restoration work in progress. The WCLA has paid compensation to the encroachers along the boundary walls of Shahi Hamam and Wazir Khan Mosque and asked them to leave.

Irfan 3

Tariq has lived here for ages and seen how unplanned commercialization harmed the architecture and the social life of the Walled City. Even though he is not fully aware of the components of the project, he is in love with the idea of being able to relive his childhood or even that of his forefathers.

He says he cannot believe his eyes when told that the Authority shall regularly organize cultural festivals, display crafts, arrange wrestling bouts, poetry recitals (mushairas), food fairs, jewelry shows etc in this part of the Walled City. The spacious court of Wazir Khan Mosque has been marked as the point for this purpose.

Irfan 4

“We have involved National College of Arts (NCA), Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD), several guilds and associations and are open to advice on how to bring the Walled City to its original shape,” says Lashari.

Once popular drinks such as ‘tukh malanga’ and ‘kanji’ will also be introduced to the new generation which does not know anything about them, he adds.

Besides, there are proposals about asking corporations to adopt a haveli, a heritage house or a monument.

Lashari is clear that the sustainability of the project lies in involving the residents and making them stakeholders. Once this part of the city attains the status of an international tourist attraction, they will be in a position to earn from the resulting economic activity.

Easy access to the Walled City is a major issue without solving which the very idea of making the place a tourist attraction will not materialise fully.

Lashari says he has written to TEPA and requested the organization to re-route the Circular Road from Azadi Chowk to Badami Bagh. This can be done by constructing an elevated semi-circular loop to give an alternative route to the traffic plying between these two points. Once the road between Iqbal Park and Lahore Fort/Badshahi Mosque is closed to traffic the whole area will turn tourist-friendly.

With congestion-free Lahore Ring Road lying in close vicinity, some options can also be mulled to connect the area with other parts of the city.

Secondly, he says, TEPA has been requested to study/survey the parking flow within the Walled City so as to identify areas that need to be restricted only to the non-motorized traffic. Exemption for emergency vehicles or facilitating the residents or timings could also be taken into consideration.

Lashari dispels the impression that he is being overambitious about the project, saying that there are several examples worldwide where heritage has been conserved in totality and many of them happen to be in the Muslim world — for instance, Isfahan in Iran, Fez in Morocco, Aleppo in Syria and Grand Bazar in Turkey.

 

Lawrence and Montgomery Halls in Lahore

he Lawrence and Montgomery Halls in Lahore as photographed by James Craddock in the 1860s. The caption states “Two large Halls for public meetings built by subscription in honour of Sir John (now Lord) Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery. The latter is almost the finest room in India & is used for all the state durbars and Senate meetings, etc. The great ball to the Duke of Edinburgh was in this Hall.” Sir John Lawrence was first Chief Commissioner and Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1853-59) and went on to become Viceroy of India. Robert Montgomery was second Lt. Governor of the Punjab (1859-65). Sir Lawrence played a crucial role during the First War of Independence in 1857 by assuring the supply of troops from Punjab to Delhi. The neoclassical look of the halls was meant to inspire awe in the locals and reaffirm colonial authority after the war. The halls are now being used as the Quaid e Azam Library.
Photo Credit:  http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111104&page=30

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

 

 

 

Chauburji, Lahore. [1880s Pic]

Photograph of the Chauburji Gateway at Lahore,  taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views. The Gateway of the Four Minarets or Chauburji was once the entrance to one of Lahore’s many pleasure gardens.

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

Punjab Public Library in Lahore [Old Pic]

 

 

Photograph of the Punjab Public Library in Lahore from the ‘Bellew Collection: Photograph album of Surgeon-General Henry Walter Bellew’ taken by George Craddock in the 1870s.  The Punjab Public Library was established in the late 19th century

 

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

Jahangir’s Tomb, 1870s Pic.


This view shows the tomb and surrounding gardens of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) at Shahdara in the 1870s. Mughal royalty and their courtiers built pleasure gardens and palaces on the right bank of the River Ravi at Shahdara opposite the major city of Lahore. At the outset of the reign of Jahangir’s son, Shah Jahan, in 1627 the emphasis changed to funerary architectural projects of which this is one. Set in formal gardens originally built by Jahangir’s wife, Nur Jahan, the tomb is faced in red sandstone inlaid with coloured marbles whilst inside the mausoleum walls are covered in colourful floral murals. The surviving marble cenotaph of Jahangir is decorated with inlaid gemstones in floral motifs and calligraphic passages giving the ninety-nine names of Allah.

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das Ji

Gurudawara, Janam Asthan [Birthplace] of fourth Guru of Sikh Religion Guru Ram Das ji, Interior Delhi Gate Lahore

Photo by: Shiraz Hassan

Anarkali Church, Lahore

Photograph of the Tomb of Anarkali in Lahore from the ‘Bellew Collection: Photograph album of Surgeon-General Henry Walter Bellew’ taken by George Craddock in the 1870s. Lahore is the capital of the Punjab province in Pakistan. This region has been ruled by the Ghaznavids, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals, the Sikhs and the British. The Tomb of Anarkali probably dates from the rule of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). In 1851, it was converted into a church by the British. In this view, we can see that there is a Christian cross surmounting the dome of the structure.

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan

By Hummingbird5356

Lahore Fort also known as Shahi Qila (Royal Fort)

No one knows exactly when Lahore Fort was built but it was first mentioned around 1021 AD when Mahmud of Ghazna conquered it. Over the centuries Lahore was conquered many times. Lahore has also been an important city for a long time. The best time for Lahore was during the Mughal reign from 1525 to 1721. Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar (Akbar the Great) built the present structure as we know it today. Jahangir and Shah Jahan constructed palaces in the Fort and Emperor Auranzeb Alamgir built the Badshahi Mosque which is opposite the Alamgiri Gate of the Fort. This is the huge entrance which has two large pillars which resemble elephants feet.

I visited in November 2008 and at this time of the year the weather is very pleasant. As a result, hundreds of school children go on visits to museums and monuments. Not only schoolchildren but families too. During this time there was a Sikh gathering at the Gurdwara which is next to the Fort and Mosque and there were many Sikhs visiting too.

  Continue reading

Belated Valentine’s Greetings

To the love of my life:

You don’t need no fancy red hearts and sugary cakes.

You just need to know how badass you were, currently are not, but soon-enough, will be, once more.

If your people must go about expressing their love to only those they deem important enough, know that this native son- still loves you; flaws and all.

“Tu barri thop cheez hai.”

Don’t lose faith in yourself Lahore.

The Only Valentine's Card That Matters.

Say a little a prayer for Lahore

 

By Ahmad Rafay Alam
The only thing as incredulous as the recent announcement by the Government of Punjab — it intention to construct a highway through the heart of Lahore — was the recent statement of the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Week that their glorified display of clothes was a “gesture of defiance towards the Taliban.”
Our fashion industry is as much of an industry as the Holy Roman empire was holy, Roman or an empire. Our designers are talented without doubt; but to suggest that parading scantily clad men and women down a runway behind the bunkers and barricades of a five-star hotel in Karachi is an act of defiance is, well, really stretching the limits to which the “security situation” can make a fool out of us. Continue reading

Mosquarade!

On Cavalry Road, Mughalpura

On Cavalry Road, Mughalpura

by Ahmad Rafay Alam

We all know mosques are places of worship. But occasionally stepping outside the confines of this limited relationship can be rewarding. Few see mosques as anything other than places of worship. But, as a type of structure, I wager there are more mosques in Pakistan than any other type of structure. Continue reading

Martin Lings Memorial Lecture & Environment Symposium

Alam-al-Khayal and WWF-Pakistan invite you to

Quranic Clarifications on the Environment Crisis

18-20 December 2008, Ali Auditorium, Ferozepur Road

“It is the nature of God to wish to communicate itself”- Alam-al-Khayal aspires to participate in this self-revelation of the Sovereign Good, doing so with a particular emphasis on reviving traditional knowledge and disciplines through lectures, symposie, film documentaries and workshops on sacred scholarship.

You are invited to attend

  • The Martin Lings Memorial Lecture, “Art and the Real” by Kamil Khan Mumtaz Sahib at 7pm on 18 December at the Ali Auditorium;
  • “A Quranic Response to “An Inconvenient Truth” by Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi at 7pm on 19 December at the Ali Auditorium; and
  • “Sacred Signs & Environmental Solutions” – An Environment Symposium (in Urdu) at 10.30am on 20 December at the Ali Auditorium.

Speakers at the Symposium will include

  • Mr. Iqbal Ahmed Qarshi, Qarshi Foundation
  • Mr. Ali H. Habib, WWF-Pakistan
  • Ms. Nudrat B. Majeed, Alam-al-Khayal
  • Mr. Masood Arshad & Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb
  • Mr. Suheyl Umar
  • Mr. Ahmad Rafay Alam, Advocate (and Lahore Nama contributer!)

Lahore’s history goes rack and ruin

Isambard Wilkinson, The National

Lahore – A project to save the architectural and cultural heritage of Lahore’s fabled Old City is foundering due to political instability and corruption, officials say.

The World Bank has offered US$10 million (Dh36.7m) to restore the 2.6-sq-km Old City, home to 145,000 of Lahore’s eight million population, but the so-called Sustainable Development Walled City project has become mired in bureaucracy and inertia.

Jewels of Moghul architecture have been neglected or poorly restored. Havelis, courtyard houses akin to Morocco’s highly prized riads, have been left to rot. Many of the city’s decorously carved wooden balconies, or jerokahs, have collapsed and the streets are squalid.

The city that was bought to life by writers ranging from the Moghul court chroniclers to the bard of the British Raj, Rudyard Kipling, and was once the capital of the Moghul and Sikh empires, is in a state of deep decay. Continue reading

Lahore Fort – the Shahi Qall’a

Shahi Qila

The Lahore Fort, locally known as Shahi Qila, is located in the northwestern corner of Lahore’s Walled City. The majestic edifice is the result of many centuries’ work. According to the Pakistani historian Wali Ullah Khan, the earliest reference to the Fort comes in the history of Lahur (Lahore) compiled by Al-Biruni, which refers to a fort constructed in the early 11th century. Munshi Sujan Rae Bhandar, author of the Khulasa-tut-Tawarikh records that Malik Ayaz, a lieutenant of Sultan Mahmud, built a masonry fort at Lahore and inhabited the city. It is generally believed that present Lahore Fort is the same fort, which was damaged by the Mongols in 1241 and again in 1398 by a detachment of Timur’s army, then rebuilt in 1421 by Sayyid, son of Khizr Khan.

The Fort was extensively refurbished, extended and upgraded during the Mughal era. This is why it is rightly attributed as one of the gems of the Mughal civilization. Emperor Jalal ud Did Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb all added to it. During the period of Sikh occupation, Ranjit Singh added several pavilions on the upper ramparts. Some modifications to the Fort were made during the British period beginning in 1846 for housing facilities for colonial functions. Those modifications have been reverted and efforts made to bring the Fort back in its pre 1846 appearance. Continue reading

Wazir Khan Mosque suffers due to neglect

By Atif Nadeem (The NEWS)

THE Wazir Khan Mosque, which speaks volumes of richness of cultural heritage of the provincial metropolis, has suffered irreparable losses due to laxity of the Pakistan Archaeology Department and the Punjab Auqaf Department.

The mosque is a living embodiment of the sublime Mughal art but encroachments and dampness, which the officials of both the departments failed to control, have expedited erosion of its structure. Continue reading

Heavenly light – Badshahi Mosque

LAHORE: A view of the Badshahi Mosque from Hazoori Bagh. Around 600 people will sit for aitekaf at the mosque for abstinence and special prayers during the last 10 days of Ramazan, starting from the evening of Ramazan 20. Official sources said that around 2,500 people will sit for aitekaf at the Jamia mosque of Data Darbar. Believers seeking God’s blessings and forgiveness will confine themselves to prayers, and entirely devote their time to religion. Sehri and iftari meals will be provided free. The Auqaf Department has made special arrangements for people sitting for aitekaf in Auqaf-controlled mosques. The district government has also made special security arrangements for worshippers. app (courtesy Daily Times)