Category Archives: heritage

Yearning for home: A Jewish woman’s memories of Lahore

This article was originally posted in here

Hazel Kahan recalls the city 40 years after she left with her parents

By Taha Anis

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“What do you think about Lahore? Can you believe how much it’s changed?” I was asked over and over again there, as my friends listed the traffic, the crowds, the new subdivisions, the restaurants, the box stores. Yes, of course (I’ve changed too in 40 years), but really their question was rhetorical. They were telling me how their Lahore has changed, how it has been transformed from the green and pleasant place of my youth, a place of order and predictability, still basking in the afterglow of the British Raj, where we worried about contracting dysentery from improperly washed fruit or about being jostled by hideously mutilated beggars in the bazaar. Today, home, sweet home requires high walls and iron gates, reinforced by fierce dogs and quasi-uniformed men. Today, my Lahore and theirs has grown to a city of over 10 million…

— Hazel Kahan in the New York-based weekly The East Hampton Star

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A view of Hazel’s childhood house. PHOTO: HAZEL KAHAN

55 Lawrence Road, Lahore. Or as Hazel Kahan called it, home. Perhaps the last living Jewish woman to still associate Pakistan with that most hallowed of words.

And while she may have left it behind for the comfort and solitude provided by the woods of Long Island, New York, Pakistan refuses to leave her.

“When did I leave Pakistan? I left Pakistan many times. I left it every year to go to boarding school, I left when my parents moved in 1971, I left in 2011, I left in 2012 and I left in 2013,” she says. “Every single time, I never knew whether I would ever go back.”

Every single time, she did.

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Gurdwara Chatti Padshahi and the Legend of Mata Kaulan, Temple Road,Lahore

By Maaria Waseem

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I photographed a house on Temple Road,Lahore with Zoroastrian symbolism which led me to find out why this road was called Temple Road. I thought maybe there was a Zoroastrian temple on this road but to my surprise i found a beautiful Sikh temple of Guru Har Gobind, called “Gurdwara Chatti Badshahi”.

This Gurdwara Comes under the Aukaf Department now and a small family lives here as caretakers. When we enter the Gurdwara on the right side are the living Quarters for the caretaker’s family and on the left side is the prayer hall and in the center is a courtyard.

The building is very simple and is designed in typical British Colonial Period style of Architecture.

Guru Har Gobind (5 July 1595 – 19 March 1644) was the sixth of the Sikh gurus and became Guru on 25 May 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev. He was eleven years old, when he became the Guru, after his father’s execution by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. He is remembered for initiating a military tradition within Sikhism to resist Islamic persecution and protect the freedom of religion. He had the longest tenure as Guru, lasting 37 years, 9 months and 3 days. Continue reading

مغلوں اور بقالوں کے دور میں لاہوری برج

عدنان خان کاکڑ

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لاہور برصغیر کا وہ شہر ہے جو ہر دور میں اہم رہا ہے۔ خواہ رامائن کا دور ہو جب رام چندر کے بیٹے لوہ کے نام پر اس شہر کا نام رکھا گیا تھا، یا ہندو شاہی کا دور جب لاہور ایک بڑی ہندو شاہی سلطنت کا دارالسطنت تھا جو پنجاب سے لے کر موجودہ افغانستان کے مزار شریف تک پھیلی ہوئی تھی، یا غزنوی دور تھا جب لاہور سلاطین غزنی کا پایہ تخت بنا، یا پھر خاندان غلاماں کا زمانہ تھا جس کا پہلا سلطان قطب دین ایبک یہیں انارکلی میں جاں ہار گیا۔
اور مغلوں کی تو بات ہی کیا تھی۔ ہمایوں کے بھائی کامران مرزا کی غالباً پورے برصغیر میں ایک ہی نشانی بچی ہے۔ دریائے راوی میں کامران کی بارہ دری۔ اور پھر اکبر آیا تو چودہ سال تک اس نے لاہور سے اپنی عظیم سلطنت کو چلایا۔ جہانگیر یہاں دفن ہوا اور شاہجہاں یہاں پیدا ہوا۔ اورنگ زیب کے عہد میں بادشاہی مسجد اور قلعے کا عالمگیری دروازہ تعمیر ہوئے۔
شاعرانہ طبیعت رکھنے والے مغلوں کے اس محبوب شہر نے ان سے خراج محبت پانے میں کمی نہ دیکھی۔ یہاں قلعے میں شیش محل اور دیوان عام و خاص بنے۔ نور جہاں اور جہانگیر کے عالیشان مقبرے یہیں تعمیر ہوئے۔ شالیمار باغ بنا۔ مغل باغات کے شہر لاہور میں اور ایک اور وسیع باغ اورنگ زیب کی بیٹی زیب النسا نے بنوایا۔ روایت ہے کہ یہ وسیع و عریض باغ موجودہ نواں کوٹ اور سمن آباد سے لے کر قدیم شہر کی فصیلوں تک پھیلا ہوا تھا۔ اس کے چند ہی آثار باقی بچے ہیں۔ چند بچے کھچے برج سمن آباد اور نواں کوٹ کے گھروں کے کونوں کھدروں میں موجود ہیں اور کسی وقت بھی کسی نئے گھر کی تعمیر کے لیے ڈھائے جا سکتے ہیں۔ اس کی صرف ایک نمایاں نشانی بچی ہے۔ چوبرجی دروازہ۔

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The ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore

These photos were first published here

The ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore houses the many Christian sons and daughters of Lahore, who have immensely contributed to its growth and development. Located next tot he Lahore Gymkhana, this old graveyard has beautiful graves adorned with 19/20th Century artwork, which angel statues guarding the graves.

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An epitaph at The ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

An epitaph at The ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

A grave at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

A grave at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

A statue at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore

A statue at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore

A statue at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

A statue at the ‘Gora Kabristan’ (Christian Cemetry) in Lahore.

Zoroastrian/Parsee symbolism on commercial Buildings Mall Road Lahore

Photos by Maaria Waseem

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If you haven’t seen Lahore, you haven’t even been born by Nandita Das

When actress Nandita Das crossed at the Wagah border, she found a place that was both familiar and different.

This article was originally posted on Scroll.in

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It is always bittersweet crossing the Wagah border. The insanity of Partition, the lines drawn in the middle of Punjab, these are thoughts that invariably replay in my mind. And yet having made the journey several times, I look forward to the interesting conversations with porters, security staff and immigration officers on both sides, who live the result of that insanity every day and have many insightful stories to share.

This time the coolie I got on the Pakistan side was an old man, who had been doing the job for the last 25 years. All those years at the border had made him a philosopher and he had clear views on the mindlessness of the animosity between the two countries. He spoke in Punjabi, just like his counterpart who took my luggage till the Pakistani border.

This trip was primarily to research my directorial project on Saadat Hasan Manto, the writer of the 1940s who I am in love with. I felt very fortunate to stay with his middle daughter, who along with her family made me feel completely at home. The last time I had met Manto’s three daughters was over a meal in Lahore. But on this trip I was able to spend extensive time with them. Their many anecdotes were precious nuggets that I could not have got from any book. But most of all it was their warmth and trust in me that was most touching. Continue reading

Akbari Sirai Lahore in ruins

Photos by Maaria Waseem
Back gate of Akbari Sirai, Jahangir Tomb Lahore needs desperate attention.

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Gulabi Bagh

Malik Omaid

Gulabi Bagh

One of the most significant Mughal structures, carrying some of the most spectacular tile mosaic examples, is the Gulabi Bagh Gateway. It is located on the northern side of G.T. Road, east of Buddhu’s Tomb, and past Begampura Road on the left. Although of considerable height (it is a two storey structure), it can be missed easily since it does not carry a dome, or other terminating elements, As is evident from its name, this remarkable gateway was originally the entrance to a garden known as Gulabi Bagh or (the rose garden), no longer extant. The name however, is also a chronogram, from which the date of construction of the gateway AH 1066 (1655) is obtained. Although the gateway has endured much damage to its decorative features, it is in a tolerably well-preserved state. It was constructed by or in memory of Mirza Sultan Beg, a Persian nobleman and cousin of Shah Jahan’s son-in-law Mirza Ghiyasuddin (married to princess Sultan Begam). Due to his cousin’s relationship with the royal family, Mirza Sultan Beg rose to the exalted position of Mir-ul-Bahar (Admiral of the Fleet). He was obviously on extremely good terms with the emperor, who, aware of his love of hunting, presented him with a much-admired English rifle. Just two months later, the firearm proved fatal for him due to the bursting of a shell during a hunting expedition at Hiran Minar at Sheikhupura. He died in 1063/1657. A lofty Timurid aiwan—a popular architectural rendering for gateways—rises to two-storey height, and incorporates a 40′ long covered walkway defined by a single storey cusped arch gateway. The aiwan is flanked on both sides with 5′ deep arched alcoves expressive of the two storeys of the structure. The covered walkway is lined on either sides with a 12’x12′ chamber, which no doubt provided accommodation to the guards, from where an internal staircase leads to the first floor. The 50′ wide facade, subdivided into slightly sunken panels presents one of the finest examples of kashi kari (tile mosaic). Continue reading

160 Bhagat Singh files lie in oblivion in Lahore

This article was originally posted here

Even more than eight decades after Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ martyrdom, an important bunch of files related to their trial in the Lahore Conspiracy Case are lying in oblivion in Lahore.

More than 160 files titled ‘Crown vs Sukh Dev, Lahore Conspiracy Case 1929-1931′ are lying behind closed lockers in the Punjab Archives in Lahore, Pakistan. According to sources, no international scholar on Bhagat Singh so far has been allowed to access them.
Amarjit Chandan, London-based poet and independent researcher on Bhagat Singh, who has tried to access those files numerous times in the past said that these files are of immense historical importance as they are from a special tribunal, which was formed for Bhagat Singh and his comrades’ trial. “I myself went to the Lahore Archives and there are many academics who have tried to access the files. I was shown just one file and my request was turned down to take a copy of the catalogue of the collection,” he said.

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Photo of the Day: Victoria School in Danger

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This is a very serious issue , as this new cemented building might collapse on the Victoria Girls High School , it is tilting towards the school , however over the last few rains in this month the situation has worsen.
(Photo and words Tahir Yazdani Malik)

 

Photo of the Day: Nedou’s Hotel Lahore

Malik Omaid

The Avari Hotel Facebook page shared this post:

“Did you know that Avari Hotel Lahore building has been on Mall Lahore since 1880. Yes, it was Nedous Hotel from 1880 to 1910. The Hotel was founded by Michael Nedou in 1880, after partition it was used for Government Offices. In 1960, the building was demolished and new Park Luxury hotel was built (owned by Avari’s), that later, in 1970 was also demolished to raise the current Avari Hotel building which was called Hilton International at that time.”

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In 1961 Nedous was auctioned to the late Mr Dinshaw Avari and was renamed Park Luxury Hotel.

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 More details here

Photo of the Day: House of Pandit Shiv Narayan Edward Road

House of Pandit Shiv Narayan (1850-1929) founder of DEV SAMAJ, a religious and social reform society Edward Road, Lahore.

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Photos and research via Maria Waseem @maaria_waseem

Photo of the Day: Risala Gali Old Anarkali

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Photos via Maria Waseem @maaria_waseem

Lahore: Future Of The Past

Lahore Nama is sharing this insightful video by Shah Salman Sirhindi on the deteriorating situation of Lahore’s heritage especially the houses of commoners. These are centuries old houses and have immense importance from heritage point of view but next generations may not be able to witness how their forefathers used to live in Lahore.

Future Of The Past – Directed by Shah Salman Sirhindi from Syed Salman Ahmed Sirhindi on Vimeo.

Fresco and Mosaic work at Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore

Malik Omaid

I visited historic Wazir Khan Mosque with my friend in a tour to explore Lahore and what I found was a bit of tragedy of ruining frescoes and mosaic treasure. Many of whom had already vanished due to ignorance and incompetence of officials. It is a tragedy that such a historical site is being used by commoners with out the supervision of experts. Some of the still safe frescoes and mosaic are under with my comments from Instagram account. (Photos by the Author and Umer Khalid)

These are last photos for my ‪‎Wazir Khan‬ Mosque‬ series. This is of numerous frescoes in the mosque used as decoration on walls. These are masterpieces of Mughal‬ art each wort of millions of rupees dating back to 4 centuries.
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These mosaic and frescoes are ruining rapidly. When I went there I saw an empty wall but if you see just ten year old photos of Wazir Khan Mosque you find a fresco work there. Now it has vanished completely. This is the case with other frescoes.

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I tried my best to find details on these frescoes on internet but was unsuccessful. Would love it if someone can give me details.

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Imagine this wonderful piece of art is 400 years old left to ruin and fade away.

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Mosaic tiles forming the star of David. Back then it was halal. No one said there is a Jewish conspiracy behind this mosque.

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971st Urs of Data Sahib

“The heart is the seat of knowledge and is more venerable than the Kaaba. Men are forever looking at the Kaaba but God looks towards the heart”; said Hazrat Usman Hajveri popularly known as Data Saheb of Lahore.

The shrine of Shaikh Ali Hajweri, Data Ganj Bakhsh, or Data Sahib is a landmark of sorts in the subcontinent. It has been a centre of inspiration since the eleventh century. He was both a scholar and a saint and author of the first treatise on Sufism in Persian language – Kashf al Mahjub (or “Unveiling the Veiled”). Originally from Ghazni, Afghanistan, Data Saheb spent a considerable portion of his life in Lahore. He loved it so much that settled there permanently.

After his reunion with the Creator in 1077 A.D, his shrine has attracted millions of people. It is still the busiest of places even after nearly ten centuries. Even the leader of Chistiya school of Sufism, Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti sought spiritual guidance at his shrine.

Wish I could have been there at the Urs (the death anniversary)-it is quite an event.

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Some recent photos of Urs of Data Sahib.

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Sikh Maharaja Sher Singh’s baradari in pity condition

This is a three year old report from the Sikh Sangat News being posted in Lahore Nama as very little difference has been made since then. Sher Singh Baradari is being ruined like many other Sikh era relics.

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Lahore, Pakistan: Proposed conservation plan of Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) to preserve an important historical monument of 19th century Baradari of Sher Singh is in doldrums due to lack of funds and the existing structure can collapse any time, TheNation has learnt.

The sources said that the Archeology Department had prepared a feasibility report for the conservation and renovation of the Baradari’s structure on the request of PHA about three months back with the estimated amount of Rs 22 million. They further said that PHA also allocated Rs 32 million for the preservation of historical monument and also adjacent garden but despite lapse of three moths, the department could not manage the amount.
The monument, which is surviving with skeleton, was declared protected under Antiquity Act 1975 but not a single plan had been carried out to preserve it.

It may be mentioned here that the monument was badly damaged and set on fire by an angry mob in 1992 in retaliation to the demolition of the Babri Mosque in India and at that time the people had taken its precious wooden doors, as informed by the locals. Continue reading

Lahore Fort becomes inaccessible to public

This article was originally posted in The News

Lahore Fort

Ali Raza

LAHORE: Pakistan’s monument declared as the world heritage, Lahore Fort has turned into an inaccessible destination for local as well as international tourists after closure of the main link road and shifting of parking facilities far away.

Lahore Fort is one of the favourite visiting places of local and international tourists, especially in the winter season. Residents of the provincial metropolis also used to visit this marvellous building with their families to spend a whole day in lush green lawns. Mostly, school trips are also scheduled for winter season.

The main road dividing Minar-e-Pakistan (Iqbal Park ground) and Lahore Fort was closed for normal traffic during the construction of Azadi Interchange. This road links Azadi Chowk to Lorry Adda. During construction of the Azadi Interchange, heavy vehicles and machinery used this road to bring sand, mud, iron, bricks, concrete, etc, due to which it had broken. Continue reading

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

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