Ava Lavinia Gardner dancing in Lahore while filming “Bhowani Junction”.
Image via Multipix
This article was originally posted in here
Hazel Kahan recalls the city 40 years after she left with her parents
By Taha Anis
“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
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.
عدنان خان کاکڑ
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۔
This article was originally posted in Dawn
Soaked in the golden age of the ’60s, Lahore was an island of hedonistic pleasure. For teens who had yet to say goodbye to the loss of innocence that perforce visits every adult when real life issues strike, ours was a fairytale existence. Who can forget ‘Mr Chips’? With his bagful of packets of chips he would pop up from every corner of Anarkali bazaar to accost you. His voice, 50 years later, still rings in my ears. The channa chaat at Bano Bazaar had to be eaten after mom would finish with her petticoat and blouse matching with the saris she’d tote around.
A play at the Alhambra was like being a part of the cast; a cricket match at the Gaddafi Stadium was like a fashion parade; we all had our favourite cricketers whom we fancied, my poster boy being Ijaz Butt (don’t go rolling your eyes, he was quite a looker then); ice cream at Chalet on the Mall was like sitting in a Swiss cabin with a school buddy (mine being Zenobia Khurshid, now Mrs Akhund, and Nasreen Muzaffar, now Mrs Iqbal); book browsing at Ferozesons on the Mall with my two older brothers was a trip to wonderland and textbook buying with parents at Imperial Book Depot was a growing up activity, each new school year signalling a march towards maturity; orange juice binging at Hall Road in winter was a drink from heaven; grocery shopping at Tollington Market lent its own colonial aura and jiving at the Gymkhana (Lawrence Hall) if one was lucky to find a partner, well let me continue…
Teenage Ball was an annual winter affair at Lahore Gymkhana Club, the building also known as Lawrence Hall. With promises made to be goody good, permission to attend would be reluctantly granted by parents who ensured that big brothers went along to keep an eye on their kid sister. But big brothers being big brothers had their own conquests to tend to while forgetting about me and my cousin Kaye (that was her nickname) now Mrs Imran Ahmad. While popular Kaye would be on the floor, yours truly, awkwardly attired in an ill-fitting half coat (that’s what they were known as then) with a bulging behind packed in a sack shirt (the fad in the 60s) would be sitting like a wallflower waiting to be asked to dance.
‘Teddy boys’ that’s what the St Anthony crowd were called. The late Shahid Rehman was our Rock Hudson. Girls liked him. Others like Munir Akram (our ex ambassador to the UN) Dawar Shaikh, the late governor Punjab Salman Taseer, aka Billo for his blue eyes, and Sunny Saeedudin (son of Brigadier Saeeduddin) were the regulars at ‘mixed’ teenage parties which, while other teenagers attended, were a no-go area in our household. Among girls, the talented and beautiful Naveed Rehman stood out as all-rounder. She was a student of Queen Mary College. We were next door at the Convent of Jesus & Mary. Our head girl, Syeda Abida Hussain aka Chandi, was a stunner.
As alumni, each year she’d return for a summer break from her finishing school in Switzerland and she’d be invited to talk about her experiences. It was awesome. As a rare embodiment of beauty and brains, (with wealth thrown in) Abida’s taffeta dresses and smooth delivery brought about a lively sense of happenstance. We all wanted to copy her.
Ah! The movies of those times. Plaza, Regal and the Odeon cinemas were our watering holes. During intermission, we’d recognise our friends from school — Lahore was so cliquish in those days, it still is till today! As teenagers, we easily related to movies featuring teenage love affairs like Splendour in the Grass starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty whose story of sexual repression, love and heartbreak played havoc with young minds like ours. Peyton Place was another sizzler. The exposé of the lives and loves of the residents of a small town in the US where scandal, suicide and moral hypocrisy hid behind a veneer of pretentious living introduced our impressionable minds to the American way of life. Lolita was another bombshell. (The government film censor board must have worn blinkers then!)
Magazines like Playboy and True Romance had already ‘educated’ the teenagers of Lahore about the ‘birds and the bees.’ But it was the American movies that captured our attention about teens across the Atlantic. We considered ourselves liberated (not in the sexual sense though) but America appeared downright promiscuous. Alongside the adult stuff, one still stuck to reading Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer, Daphne du Maurier’s haunting love story ‘Rebecca’, the Bronte sisters and of course Jane Austen. We had already graduated from Enid Blyton mysteries.
On balmy nights we’d sit and listen to Noor Jehan or Farida Khannum or Iqbal Bano sing Faiz at the open-air theatre in Bagh-i-Jinnah. On one such event, a senior official shushed a lady who was rather loud. The lady, wife of a senior bureaucrat, turned around to slap him. The news spread quickly. Yes, Lahore had its scandals hitting it all the time. That’s what made the place so ‘sexy.’
Foreign dignitaries, including emperors, empresses, queens and first ladies visited Lahore. After empress Farah Diba of Iran came, we teased our hair into a beehive hoping to have a ‘Farah Diba bouffant.’ Memorable was the vying for attention by US First Lady Jackie Kennedy and her sister princess Lee Radziwill from president Ayub Khan. He must have appeared a conflicted man, having to choose between two ethereal beauties.
Fashionistas, the devoted followers of fashion alongside their lesser trendy sisters, the hidebound ladies of Lahore learnt firsthand how women (Jackie and Lee) across two continents, dressed and lived a life celebrated for being direct, free-spirited and open.
The rich and stylish culture that the 60s embraced still makes Lahore the heartthrob of Pakistan. Nasir Kazmi’s verse says it best: Shehr-e-Lahore, teri raunaqain dayam aabad: Teri galyon ki hawa khainch ke layi mujh ko. (O city of Lahore, may your lights never dim; It was the breeze of your streets that pulled me back).— Anjum Niaz
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.
This is a Photo from Daily ‘Mashriq’ newspaper reporting on the difficulties students face in Public transport in 1970’s.
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
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.
This report was first published here
LAHORE The city of Lahore, along with its ancient traditions and culture, is also known for its mouth-watering cuisine which predates even the British Raj. But Partition, apart from tearing apart Lahoris, also affected the city’s cuisine. For example, the traditional das kulcha, which existed in the Mughal era, gradually faded out and disappeared. Continue reading
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.”
In 1961 Nedous was auctioned to the late Mr Dinshaw Avari and was renamed Park Luxury Hotel.
House of Pandit Shiv Narayan (1850-1929) founder of DEV SAMAJ, a religious and social reform society Edward Road, Lahore.
Photos and research via Maria Waseem @maaria_waseem
“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.
Some recent photos of Urs of Data Sahib.
Soldiers of the Lahore Division of Britain’s colonial Indian Army went into action in Belgium for the first time on October 24th 1914. CN writer Christopher J. Harvie discusses a critical moment in the First Battle of Ypres.
Eventually contributing over one million troops, the British Indian Army would become the largest source of volunteers from the Empire. The first units to the Western Front in 1914, parts of the Indian Corps of Indian Expeditionary Force A, arrived at a most desperate moment.
In two months of open warfare costly battles had been fought back and forth in the hinterlands of France and Belgium. Constant contact had worn the armies down, shrunk their reserves of manpower and turned the war into not much more than a grappling match.
“Ypres became a grinding battle of willpower more than anything else. Through heavy rains along ground already wet and miserable and days growing colder, villages, woods and shallow trenches were taken and retaken. For almost four weeks of assaults and counter attacks, wearied men on both sides continued to hammer away at each other in a dogged and brutal fashion.”
(“First Light of Dawn”, author’s post If Ye Break Faith)
Gone by this point were the sweeping, grand manoeuvres of large armies in the field. The conflict had now devolved to isolated skirmishes, both sides attempting to probe for the weak link that would open the ground wide again.
By mid-October, the low-lying, difficult terrain of Belgian Flanders was the only place remaining where either the Germans or the Allies might break through. The remainder of the front had settled into mutual defensive works or would be deliberately flooded by order of the Belgian King. To date, the BEF had incurred 57,000 casualties and in some places around the Ypres area of operations were so depleted as to be at a 12:1 numerical disadvantage.
On October 20th 1914, the Indian Cavalry Corps with the 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) Divisions began to reach the front. With an immediate need to shore up the thinly held salient, the 3rd Division, having arrived first, was broken up. Individual brigades and battalions were sent where they were most needed. The Division would be blooded almost simultaneously in three separate engagements at La Bassée, Messines and Armentières.
Despite the home garrison being in the predominantly Punjab city of Lahore, which is now within Pakistan, the 3rd Division (referred to by its nominative “Lahore Division” on the Western Front to avoid confusion with the BEF’s 3rd Division) was composed of battalions of wide backgrounds including men of Baloch, Dogra, Ghurkha, Pathan, Punjabi and Sindhi heritage. It came into its pre-war organisation during Kitchener’s reforms of the Indian Army in 1904, as part of Northern Command, with the Jullundur, Sirhind and Ambala brigades
“Where is my Division?”
The deconstruction of the Lahore Division wasn’t a discourtesy; at this point larger formations were of little use and these troops as with some British units became detached and used as “flying squads” to shore up the line during a very fluid situation. Lieutenant General Wilcox, GOC Indian Corps, noted in his diary in late October how the Division was taken apart:
“Where is my Lahore Division? Sirhind Brigade detained in Egypt. Ferozepore Brigade: somewhere in the north, split up into three or four bits. Jullundur Brigade: Manchesters gone south to (British) 5 Division (this disposes of only British unit) 47th Sikhs: Half fighting with some British division; half somewhere else! 59th Rifles and 15th Sikhs:In trenches 34th Pioneers (divisional troops) also in trenches 15th Lancers: In trenches. Two companies of Sappers and Miners fighting as infantry with British divisions. Divisional Headquarters: Somewhere?”
(With the Indians in France, London: Constable, 1920)
With his brigades stretched so far apart and attached to other commands, General Wilcox was a Corps commander without a corps to command.
The soldiers of the Division had grown a domestic reputation as formidable warriors. Now as they entered a European battlefield for the first time, they proved themselves deserving. Desperately outnumbered and under pressure of constant German attacks, the Lahore Division in the localities it was set to defend held ground and went into counter attacks which helped solidify the British line outside of Ypres, the critical rail and road juncture of Flanders whose possession could dictate a heavy advantage.
Britain had no reserves ready to deploy. The Regulars were all but spent, most of the Territorial’s were still assembling and the large volunteer force to become known as “Kitchener’s Armies” had barely begun to train. The addition in late October 1914 of two trained and motivated divisions quite possibly staved the disaster of collapse at Ypres. By month’s end the Indian Corps had suffered 1,565 casualties.
Not two weeks after his 26th birthday, Sepoy Khudadad Khan and his machine gun team were facing a severe German attack, October 31st 1914. He remained at his post despite wounds and the loss of the other men of his detachment, keeping his gun firing-the only remaining machine gun in action- only leaving after the enemy had bypassed his position believing him dead. For his actions, Sepoy Khudadad was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Empire’s highest award, himself being the first South Asian recipient of the decoration.
“The Jewel of Punjab”
Today, Lahore is the capital city of Punjab Province in Pakistan, known affectionately as “The Jewel of Punjab.” It lies close to the border with India. The city was a place of contention and violence during partition in 1947 but exists now as a thriving commercial and cultural centre.
This article was originally published in Centenary News
After living in England, Australia and Israel, and having worked in market research in Manhattan for years, Kahan, 75, now lives in Mattituck, on the North Fork of Long Island. She produces interviews for WPKN radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and has recently begun discussing her family history in public presentations, telling a story that illustrates how complicated citizenship and allegiances were for Jews during and after World War II in Pakistan and beyond. She has presented her piece “The Other Pakistan” in Woodstock and Greenport, New York and twice in Berlin. She plans to bring her performance to Montreal in November.
“I never really cared about it, I never bothered, until [my father] died [in 2007],” Kahan said of the project. “Then I realized there’s no one left to tell this story. He did his best to pass it on to us. And we’re responsible, you know?”
The story begins in 1933, when Kahan’s parents, Hermann Selzer and Kate Neumann, left Nazi Germany separately for Italy, where Jews were allowed to study medicine. Hermann and Kate (who had briefly met in Berlin years before) met again in Rome and married in 1935. As Europe became increasingly dangerous for Jews, they decided to leave the continent. Most Jews migrated to British-controlled Palestine, but Kahan’s parents made their decision of where to go on a whim. At a dinner party in Rome, an Italian monsignor suggested that they move to Lahore, Pakistan, which was then still part of British India and a city that had an exotic reputation as a crossroads for travelers and traders.
“He said to them: ‘Why are you thinking of going to Palestine?’” Kahan said. “‘You’re young, you’re cosmopolitan, you have medical degrees; in India they need European doctors. Go to India.’”
It turned out to be a great decision — at least for a while. Kahan said that her parents were graciously welcomed in Lahore. They set up a successful medical practice, and her father became part of the British elite class. Lahore was a worldly city with a vibrant international culture.
“Lahore was a very special place because it was at the crossroads of a lot of trade from the East going to Iran and Turkey,” Kahan said, who was born there in 1939. “So people came through and the whole place became a room for travelers.”
That didn’t mean that there were a lot of Jews in Lahore. In the 40s, around 2,000 Jews lived in Pakistan, and most of them were settled in the port city of Karachi.
Kahan’s family lived a largely secular life. For Passover, Kahan recalls eating chapati (more commonly called roti), the unleavened flatbread found throughout India and Pakistan, without really knowing why. The annual sign of Yom Kippur was her father’s fast, which gave him a headache each year.
“It’s kind of difficult to be a Jew if there are no Jews around,” Kahan said.
In December 1940, in the early stages of World War II, Kahan’s family was forced by the British-Indian government to move to internment camps in Purandhar Fort, and later in Satara, in the southwest of India. This happened because the Selzers were “stateless,” and thus considered enemy aliens by the government. Poland had passed a law in 1938 that revoked citizenship from any Polish citizen who had been abroad for at least five years. The Selzers fit this description: Hermann was born in Poland, but his family had moved to Oberhausen, Germany, when he was a child. Kate was born in Germany but assumed Polish nationality when she married Hermann. They had Polish passports to travel to British India, but ceased to be citizens of Poland after the new citizenship laws took effect.
“I think there were maybe like 200 families [in the interment camp],” Kahan said. “They were classified as German Nazis, German anti-Nazis, which we were, and then Italian fascists. So the camp was kind of divided in that way, and we were lopped in with the German anti-Nazis, who were mainly missionaries.”
In the internment camp, the family had a house and lived a relatively normal life under supervision of local officials for five years. Nevertheless, the Selzers had to abandon their medical practice and move away from Lahore. Most interned families faced financial hardships. Their relations to the government and those around them inevitably changed.
In the internment camp, Hermann Selzer began to write down his experiences. He continued to write until he had a stroke, a few years before his death in 2007. Many of his writings, in addition to a collection of his letters, legal documents, and photographs from the 40s through the 60s are now archived on microfilm at the Leo Baeck Institute, a research library of German-Jewish history housed in the Center for Jewish History in New York. Selzer never published any of his work.
“He was a very disciplined man,” Kahan said of her father. “And I bought him a typewriter. He sat writing every morning and then I bought him an electronic typewriter, and he wore it out so I bought him another one.”
After the war ended, the Selzers moved back to Lahore and restarted their practice. By the Six Day War in 1967, relations between Jews and Muslims had soured (Pakistan is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world). By 1971, the atmosphere had gotten so tense that the Selzers decided to move to Israel. Kahan said that her parents wanted to spend their entire life in Pakistan, and dreamt of dispensing free medical care to people throughout the Middle East after they retired.
“But being Jewish was no longer being Jewish, it was being Zionist,” Kahan said. “And that was the problem.”
In Israel, Hermann worked part-time at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and kept writing. By this time, in a testament to the international turmoil they lived through, the Selzers had accumulated four passports: They had retained their Polish passports, earned Pakistani passports, were given German passports after the war (as a recognition of suffering, Kahan explained), and obtained Israeli passports upon settling in Jerusalem.
Decades later, Kahan went through her father’s letters and documents and wrote two unpublished memoirs — “A House in Lahore” and “An Untidy Life” — about her childhood; both were subtitled “Growing Up Jewish in Pakistan.”
The title of her new presentation, “The Other Pakistan,” refers to the seemingly unexpected hospitality and warmth that she has repeatedly experienced as a Jew in a predominantly Muslim country. (Today, at most 800 Jews live there.)
“Pakistan is obviously a really horrible country, with everything bad from Taliban to whatever you want to say,” Kahan said. “But the point is for me is that the other Pakistan is this hospitable place.”
Despite having gone to boarding schools in England and living in various other countries throughout her adult life — not to mention being forced to live in an interment camp as a child — Pakistan is still close to Kahan’s heart. She explained that she has been graciously welcomed back into the Pakistani community every time she has visited.
“I feel because I was born there that in a very profound way it’s my home,” she said. “Even though I’m not of it, I’m from there.”
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
This article was originally published in The News on the PTI “Jalsa” in Minto Park.
LAHORE: Lahore’s Minto Park (now called Iqbal Park), where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan staged yet another big rally on Sunday evening, has previously seen nearly every political entity like the All India Muslim League, the Khaksar Tehreek, the incumbent PML-N, the Pakistan People’s Party, JUI-F, Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the MQM and the General Musharraf-led PML-Q etc holding widely-attended corner meetings during the last 74 years or since March 23, 1940.
Minto Park Lahore is also famous for breeding innumerable cricketing gems. Along with Pakistan’s Cricket legend Fazal Mahmood (1927-2005), with whom American actress Ava Gardener (1922-90) had requested to dance and whose fans included former Indian Premier Indira Gandhi, numerous Indian and Pakistani cricketers like Lala Amarnath, Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Imtiaz Ahmed, Nazar Muhammad, Mudassar Nazar, Saleem Malik, Saleem Pervaiz, Sarfraz Nawaz, Shafqat Rana, Azmat Rana, Javed Burki, Majid Khan, Imran Khan himself, Zulfiqar Ahmed, Shuja-ud-Din, Amir Elahi,Gul Mohammad, Dr Dilawar Hussein, Ameer Hussain, Maqsood Ahmed and sub-continent’s quickest ever fast bowler, Muhammad Nisar etc. had polished their skills on these grounds.
Famous American mystic, Samuel Lewis, seen here with the keepers of the Sufi saint, Data Ganj Baksh’s shrine in Lahore (1962).
Photo and details courtesy Nadeem F Paracha, Dawn
BURIED FOR FORTY DAYS; WONDERFUL PERFORMANCES OF THE INDIAN FAKIRS.
Originally published in the London Telegraph, August 22, 1880
We are not told whether the Seven Sleepers who retired to a cave in Ephesus during the reign of the Christian-killing Emperor Decius, and only woke up 155 years afterward, when Theodosins II was on the throne, made any special preparation, but probably they did not. Perhaps it was not necessary. Those were stirring times for members of the new faith, and they had little opportunity to grow obese.
But, as a rule, to fast successfully it is said to be necessary for a man to abstain beforehand, and reduce himself more carefully to the required condition by a long course of preparation. Pre-eminent at this art of suspending animation—for an art it becomes—are the Easterns, and most wonderful stories are told of the natives of India, which, whether they powers are due to narcotics or any other process, seem to open up—if true—a wide field of medical study.
Once of the Indian stories, not easily accessible, but of considerable interest on account of the known veracity of the witnesses, will probably be read with interest at the present time, and is inserted here. The author of it was one Hon. Capt. Osborn, and the notes made of his statement, here subjoined, come from an almost unique copy printed from private circulation. Continue reading