Category Archives: History

Photo of the Day: American Mystic in Data Darbar

Famous American mystic, Samuel Lewis, seen here with the keepers of the Sufi saint, Data Ganj Baksh’s shrine in Lahore (1962).

American Mystic

Photo and details courtesy Nadeem F Paracha, Dawn

THE MAGIC OF HARIDAS LAHORI!

Malik Omaid

BURIED FOR FORTY DAYS; WONDERFUL PERFORMANCES OF THE INDIAN FAKIRS.

Haridas

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

Photo of the Day: Neveein Maseet (Deep Level Mosque)

Malik Omaid

Badshahi Mosque may be the crown of Lahore’s heritage but there are dozens of historic mosques in Lahore, mainly inside walled city with amazing architecture. These mosques are not only old but many also have historic importance. One of those is Neevein Maseet of Deep level Mosque located between Lohari Gate and Shah Almi Gate inside Mati Chowk in Dograan Street. This Mosque is 12 Feet Deep from Ground Level .This Mosque was built by Nawab Zulifqar Khan . He was a man from Ladhi Family . This Mosque is one of oldest Mosques of Lahore.
Neevein Maseet

 

Photo and details by Liaquat Ali Vance

The Pakistan Diaries by Sudheendra Kulkarni

This Article was originally published on NDTV

 

(Sudheendra Kulkarni is a socio-political activist and columnist.)

Bagh-e-Jinnah is to Lahore what Lodi Garden is to Delhi. Both are iconic parks, laden with history. But the former is bigger and, going by the number of aam aadmi who come there for recreation, less elitist. It was formerly known as Lawrence Gardens, honouring John Lawrence, India’s viceroy from 1864 to1869. Along with his older brother, Henry Lawrence, he played a major role in the affairs of the united Punjab during the British Raj, a saga well chronicled by Rajmohan Gandhi in his new book Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten.

An early morning walk from my hotel, Pearl Continental, has brought me to Bagh-e-Jinnah. It being the middle of June, the sun is already up and bright. As in Delhi, a city with which Lahore has so many similarities (both have majestic forts, built by Moghul rulers at a time when Partition was inconceivable), it’s hot, which explained to me why there were so few people in the garden. I am a little disappointed, because I have come here as much to meet common Pakistanis as to savour the joy of a morning walk in a garden. My purpose is to have as much of Track III dialogue – conversations leading to contacts between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis – as possible during my brief five-day visit to Pakistan, to complement the Track II dialogue for which I had gone to Islamabad a couple of days back.

For the uninitiated, Track II is that conflict-resolution activity in which some of those who once took part in Track I – official government-to-government talks – but are now retired continue to meet, along with journalists, professionals and peace activists, to seek solutions to the vexed issues between our two countries. Cynics see Track II as a post-retirement opportunity for former diplomats, soldiers, and senior government officials to travel and talk. In his new book Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum, American scholar Stephen P. Cohen writes about a journalist who sarcastically quipped at an Indo-Pak Track II meeting in Salzburg ‘where the formers were suddenly and most insistently advocating peace’: “We ought to extend the age of retirement, because it seems as if once an official retires he becomes committed to peace with the other side.”

But Track II can also disprove cynics by promoting a constructive and hope-giving exchange of views. This was evident at the Pakistan-India Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad on June 14, organised by the Regional Peace Institute, a non-governmental body founded by Pakistan’s former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, and supported by Hans Seidel Foundation, a German NGO. I was one of the 14 Indian members of a delegation that was led by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Mani, an irrepressible votary of India-Pakistan détente, argues, notwithstanding all the flak he receives from the critics of this argument, that the official Track I dialogue between our two governments must go on in an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” manner, irrespective any provocation or unpleasant development. The delegation also included our former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. The Pakistani contingent comprised former minsters and retired diplomats and officials of the army and ISI, besides a few prominent journalists.

I have some experience of being associated with the Track I dialogue between India and Pakistan, having travelled with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his historic Bus Yatra to Lahore in 1999 at the invitation of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s then and present prime minister. I had also accompanied Vajpayee on his visit to Islamabad for the 2004 SAARC summit, on the sidelines of which he had an important meeting with Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s then president. That meeting yielded the path-breaking joint statement in which Pakistan gave a commitment not to “permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner”. Continue reading

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.

The Princess and The Doc: Ode To an Exiled Princess

Usama Irshad

The ancient skyline of Lahore has many stories to tell. The majestic marble domes of the Royal Mosque speak of the Moguls,the great connoisseurs of art;the imposing structure of Haveli Nau Nihal Singh, where young girls chant times tables these days, speaks of the the ruthless Sikh rulers,their colourful ways and extravagant festivities;the Towering S.Nabi Bux and Sons at the Mall tells the tales of the English that once ruled over this wonderful city,altering it as they willed and pitching crosses where and when they willed. The Lahore skies  recall ,wistfully,the colours of  the kites that used to  bedeck its entire expanse and the thrill and excitement that accompanied every “Boooo-Kataaaa!” cry!

painting from bamba coll darbar of lahore

painting from bamba coll darbar of lahore

Came 1947 and Lahore sat by the River Ravi and cried over the poor souls it lost. The City burnt and with the Great Migration, lost all of its former diversity. Gone were the Sikhs with their radiant turbans and billowy beards.Lahore grieved over the way its beloved son Sir Ganga Ram was desecrated by the ‘freedom-fighters’.Overnight the contributions of the once invincible Sikhs were forgotten as the ‘pious’ Muslims set forth to purge the ‘vermin’ out of this City of Sin and Splendour!
Today only a handful of young Lahorites are acquainted with such names as Ganga Ram,Ranjit Singh or Amrita Sher-Gill when in fact it was the Sikhs who

Ranjit Singh's birth place

Ranjit Singh’s birth place

really  glorified Lahore and gave it all of its religious reverence and sanctity. Ranjit Singh,the iron-willed and brave Sikh ruler brought Lahore such splendour that soon Lahore was the greatest metropolis and the cultural hub of India.Latest fashion trends would spring in Lahore and  would be followed in Delhi and Lucknow.

Soon,however,the iron shackles closed in on the whole of the Indian Subcontinent as the East India Company strengthened and eventually Punjab was captured by the British in 1849,Duleep Singh( Ranjit’s son) exiled to England and the fabled “Koh-i-Noor” diamond pilfered to grace Queen Victoria’s crown.
Ranjit Singh’s successors have largely been ignored by historians and dubbed as ‘puppets’ or ‘weaklings’. While none can question the accuracy of these comments,those last few Sikh rulers were,nonetheless aristocracy and in fact King Edward Medical College(my alma mater)seems to have deep ties with one particular member of these last ‘Singhs’ of Punjab.

Ranjit Singh's elephant

Ranjit Singh’s elephant

It all started with a picture of Princess Bamba Sutherland that I saw on facebook. The name Sutherland rang a bell in my head and a trip to KEMC’s historical Library Hall (and some google surfing) confirmed my suspicions—Princess Bamba Jindan Sutherland Duleep,the granddaughter of Ranjit Singh and the last princess of Punjab  was married to Dr David Waters Sutherland,Professor and Principal King Edward Medical College (1909-1921)! And thus began my passionate quest to find out every thing about this ethereal princess!

Born on  March 29,1869 in London, Bamba was the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh,the son of Ranjit Singh, and Rani Bamba Mullër. Now the British had invaded Punjab way back in 1849 and dethroned Duleep Singh who was sent to the UK and his mother,the dowager,exiled to different Indian cities. Duleep

Maharaja Duleep Singh

Maharaja Duleep Singh

Singh was brought up in England under the care of a certain Mr Logins and much to the consternation of his mother,he was baptized as a Christian. It is said that he would wake up reciting,”O father who art in heavens!” which would box his mother’s heart.

When after 13 years the Prince was  reunited with his mother Rani Jind Kaur on one of his trips to India,the

maharaja could not even recognize her. It was then that he insisted upon taking his mother to England with him and his wishes was granted. Subsequently the dowager died in Kensington and was cremated and buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in England. Duleep Singh was allowed to bring her ashes to India but he could not gain entrance into the Punjab. It was on his way back from India that while passing through Cairo,the maharaja met his future wife, Bamba Mullër the illegitimate child of a German merchant ,and working in a Cairo Missionary School  and,following a brief period of courtship,married her.The couple later  moved to England and had six children,Princess Bamba being one of them.

Jind Mahrani Bamba Coll

Jind Mahrani Bamba Coll

Bamba means ‘pink’ in Arabic and this particular daughter of Duleep had inherited from him the one feature that Queen Victoria had herself admired in him….his dazzling eyes. Queen Victoria was Princess  Bamba’s godmother and the Queen gifted her the grand three-storey Faraday House in London.

Bamba lived at Elveden Hall with her parents and siblings and finished her schooling at home. Later shewould join the Somerville College in Oxford and finish her studies. It was somewhere in 1887 that Princess Bamba’s sister Princess Sophia caught typhoid and and became seriously ill. The Maharani Bamba(Princess Bamba’s mother) sat by her bedside all night with the corollary that she herself fell ill and went into coma before eventually dying on September 18 1887,leaving her family bereaved.

On May 21, 1889, Maharaja Duleep Singh married Ada Wetherill whom he had met a few years back.They were wedded in Paris. Some years later,in 1883 Duleep, too died. He was 55 at the time of his death.

Bamba now lived in Old Manor House in Buckinham,Old Suffolk,to be near her brother Fredrick who was a fellow of Antiquaries of London and owned a huge collection of rare paintings.It is said that the Prince rented the famous Blo Norton Hall in South Suffolk for his sisters and later bought the famous
‘thatched cottage’ ,too. It was around this time that Bamba became increasingly involved in politics and became a member of Women’s Social and Political Union. She also attended the farewell dinner hosted in the honor of  Mahatma Gandhi at the Westminster Palace Hall.She was also among the group of activists
who went to the House of Commons on November 18,1910 and demanded to see the PM. The delegations was treated very roughly and their demand turned down ignobly.

Bamba was a strong supporter of the Suffragettes,fighting for women’s right to vote.It is said that once she with her sister Sophia Daleep Singh was summoned to the Spelthorne Petty Session for keeping a man- servant,a carriage and five dogs without license and for keeping ‘armorial bearings’.Sophia was livid and protested that she should not have to pay for these things when she didn’t have right to vote.

From Top Left: Princesses Catherine,Bamba,Prince Edward and Princess Sophia

From Top Left: Princesses Catherine,Bamba,Prince Edward and Princess Sophia

Later, the Court of Middlesex sent bailiffs to the Faraday House to collect rents from them which they refused outrightly. The bailiffs forcibly took away Sophia diamond ring in payment which was bought by Mrs Jopling Rowe in an auction and immediately returned to the Princess.

In 1910,Bamba visited India with her sister Sophia and went to see old relatives in Lahore and Amritsar. She was accompanied by Marie Antoinette,a Hungarian lady’s companion who met the renowned Indian painter,Umrao Sher-Gil in India and married him. Their daughter Amrita Sher-Gil was also a notable painter. Eventually Bamba decided to settle in Lahore and is said to have “lived like an alien in her father’s kingdom”.

Lt.Col.D.W.Sutherland

Lt.Col.D.W.Sutherland

It was during her time in India that Bamba first met Lt. Col Daid Waters Sutherland. Sutherland,who was a British Indian Army officer serving as the Principal of King Edward Medical College(presently a university),married the princess after a brief period of courtship. She was 46 at that time.They lived many years at No.16 Jail Road,Lahore. Princess Bamba christened the house “Gulzar”.The couple had no children.

Sutherland,MD,FRCP,MCP, born in Victoria,England was the son of John Sutherland,a miner at Allendale and his wife Wilhelmina. Being a doctor was strictly “middle-class” in Victorian England (as Maggie Smith would say in Downton Abbey) and this only reflects the social status of the Sikh aristocracy under the British Raj.
In 1924 Bamba finally got permission to bury her grandmother’s ashes in Lahore and she oversaw the whole affair herself.The ashes were deposited in the memorial to Raja Ranjit Singh near the Royal Mosque of Lahore. In 1930 Bamba was bereaved once again by the tragic death  ofDr Sutherland.

Now widowed and lonely,Bamba would divide her time between Blo Norton England and Gulzar in Lahore. In 1948 her rapidly failing health was struck a deathblow by the sudden death of her darling sister,Catherine,in England. Unfortunately,Bamba was in India at the time and could not get permission to travel to England and so missed the funeral. When she did go to England,she brought back
Catherine’s ashes to bury them in India,as Catherine had desired. She is reported to have travelled by land on that trip saying,”A flight is easy to obtain,but I came by land this time around as I brought  my darling sister’s ashes with me. She did not like flights.”

Princess Catherine

Princess Catherine

It was in this phase of life that Princess Bamba grew increasingly regal and imperial in her manners. She gave up Faraday House and made Blo Norton her permanent residence in England. She would now style herself as the  “Queen Of Punjab”. She seemed to have inherited her father’s rebellious nature but was far more aggrieved than he ever was. This only added to her hauteur.

On visiting a high street bookstore in Norwich,she ordered her driver to park right outside the bookstore,which unsurprisingly caused traffic havoc. A policeman asked her to remove her car at which she shot back at him,displaying all the aristocratic hubris in her saying in the most Ranjit-ish way,”Do you have any idea who you are talking to? I am the Queen of the Punjab!”

The grumpy Princess would dress in all of her finery and silk and host Sikh migrants in Blo Norton.  Karl Wilhelm,her cousin visited her then and he described her in his memoirs as the “true heiress of Ranjit Singh” in that she was sorely conscious of her lost power and glory.She considered Punjab and Kashmir,the lost possessions of her family and was livid when the border of Pakistan was drawn right through Punjab.

After partition she spent most of her time in England as the Lady of Blo Norton . She would also visit municipal offices in Guildhall Thetford to see her brother Fredrick’s painting collections. She would throw a fit every time she saw a painting damaged and was known to give a piece of her mind to the caretakers of Guildhall.

On 10th March 1957,Princess Bamba Sutherland Duleep Singh passed away quietly in London. The doctors stated heart failure as the cause of death. A Christian funeral ceremony was arranged by the British Deputy High Commission in Lahore. There were a few Pakistani dignitaries at the funeral, but unfortunately no Sikh was present. She was buried in Gora Kabristan (White Graveyard) near Taxali Gate of Lahore,alongside such figures as A R Cornelius and A C Woolner.

Bamba and Catherine Couch

Bamba and Catherine Couch

Bamba was the last living member of the once mighty Sikh dynasty of Punjab. As the last of Singhs,she was in possession of many valuable historical items.She left them with her loyal secretary Pir Karim Baksh Supra. Bamba’s  legacy included priceless masterpieces of art and were later acquired by the Pakistani Government and are now displayed for the general public in the Royal Fort of Lahore as “Princess Bamba Collection”.

The Supras still live in Lahore and in Delhi and just a few years back were hounded by the notorious paparazzi  when a ‘mysterious’ Swiss bank locker was found linked to Bamba. In the absence of any legal heirs many thought that the contents of locker would go to the Supras . Eventually the contents were divided between a number of rightful claimants

Bamba’s death marked the end of a glorious era in Punjab’s history. The fact that she died childless and lonely only lends more credence to the fact that she was sad and evocative of the days gone by.  To many she was prissy and a ‘self-styled’ princess but for many others she was the one true heir to the throne that had once belonged to Ranjit Singh.

Gora Qabristan, Lahore: Headstone Sutherland Bamba 1957

Gora Qabristan, Lahore: Headstone Sutherland Bamba 1957

The epitaph on her grave reads (English translation of Persian distich):

The Difference Between Royalty and Servility Vanishes
                      The Moment the Writing of Destiny is Encountered
                       If One Opens the Grave of a Dead
                       None Would be Able to Discern Rich from Poor!

The author holds a degree in psychology from the University of Cambridge,UK,and is presently a sophomore at King Edward Medical University,Lahore,Pakistan. He tweets @Usama_Irshad

Click here to see detailed collection:

Pakistan’s Identity Battle Plays Out in Lahore

Bhagat_jpg_1225585g

The battle for Pakistan’s identity is playing out in Lahore’s streets and – oddly, on its thoroughfares and intersections. On 23rd March, this year, a group of civil society representatives gathered at Lahore’s Shadman Chowk to commemorate the 82nd death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, a Sikh freedom fighter renowned for his revolutionary struggle as part of the independence movement, and who became stuff of legend when he was hanged by the British in 1931 after a brief but eventful insurrection against colonial rule. The gathering, however, was disrupted by members of a religious group which was holding a protest aimed at denouncing the idea of renaming the chowk after Bhagat Singh, simultaneously.

The chowk and the adjacent area used to be Lahore’s central jail during the British Raj, and Bhagat Singh is believed to have been hanged at the site of what is now Shadman Chowk.

Late last year, a group of Lahoris made progress in getting local officials to rename a busy traffic circle for Bhagat Singh, a Sikh revolutionary who. They see it as a chance to honor a local hero who they feel transcends the ethnic and sectarian tensions gripping the country today — and also as an important test of the boundaries of inclusiveness here.

But in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, questions of religious identity also become issues of patriotism, and the effort has raised alarm bells among conservatives and Islamists. The circle was named in 2010 for Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, a Muslim student who coined the name Pakistan in the 1930s, and there was an outcry at the news that it might be renamed for a non-Muslim.

“If a few people decide one day that the name has to be changed, why should the voice of the majority be ignored?” asked Zahid Butt, the head of a neighborhood business association here and a leader of the effort to block the renaming.

The fight over the traffic circle — which, when they are pressed, locals usually just call Shadman Circle, after the surrounding neighborhood — has become a showcase battle in a wider ideological war over nomenclature and identity here and in other Pakistani cities.

Although many of Lahore’s prominent buildings are named for non-Muslims, there has been a growing effort to “Islamize” the city’s architecture and landmarks, critics of the trend say. In that light, the effort to rename the circle for Mr. Singh becomes a cultural counteroffensive.

“Since the ’80s, the days of the dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq, there has been an effort that everything should be Islamized — like the Mall should be called M. A. Jinnah Road,” said Taimur Rahman, a musician and academic from Lahore, referring to one of the city’s central roads and to the country’s founder. “They do not want to acknowledge that other people, from different religions, also lived here in the past.”

A recent nationwide surge in deadly attacks against religious minorities, particularly against Ahmadi and Hazara Shiites, has again put a debate over tolerance on the national agenda. Though most Sikhs fled Pakistan soon after the partition from India in 1947, the fight over whether to honor a member of that minority publicly bears closely on the headlines for many.

A push to honor Mr. Singh has been going on here for years. But it was not until the annual remembrance of his birth in September that things came to a head. A candlelight demonstration to support renaming the traffic circle had an effect, and a senior district official agreed to start the process. As part of it, he asked the public to come forward with any objections. The complaints started pouring in.

Traders of Shadman Market, the local trade group led by Mr. Butt, threatened a strike. Chillingly, warnings against the move were issued by leaders of the Islamic aid group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, largely believed to be a front for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Clerics voiced their opposition during Friday Prayer.

The issue quickly became a case for the city’s High Court, which said it would deliberate on a petition, initiated by Mr. Butt and a coalition of religious conservatives, to block the name change. That was in November, and the case still awaits a hearing date. The provincial government has remained in tiptoe mode ever since. “It is a very delicate matter,” said Ajaz Anwar, an art historian and painter who is the vice chairman of a civic committee that is managing the renaming process.

Mr. Anwar said some committee members had proposed a compromise: renaming the circle after Habib Jalib, a widely popular postindependence poet. That move has been rejected out of hand by pro-Singh campaigners.

Mr. Rahman and other advocates for renaming the circle paint it as a test of resistance to intolerance and extremism, and they consider the government and much of Lahore society to have failed it.

“The government’s defense in the court has been very halfhearted,” said Yasser Latif Hamdani, a lawyer representing the activists. “The government lawyer did not even present his case during earlier court proceedings.”

The controversy threatens to become violent. On March 23, the anniversary of Mr. Singh’s death, police officers had to break up a heated exchange between opposing groups at the circle.

Mr. Rahman and the other supporters have vowed to continue fighting, saying it has become a war over who gets to own Pakistan’s history.

“There is a complete historical amnesia and black hole regarding the independence struggle from the British,” Mr. Rahman said, adding of the Islamists, “They want all memories to evaporate.”

 {Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/world/asia/plan-to-rename-traffic-circle-provokes-outcry-in-lahore-pakistan.html?ref=global-home&_r=1&}

A line drawn a couple of kilometres from Ludhiana may have defined borders and changed the world for most people. But on either sides there are some things that have become vestiges of another time, another place. TOI traces a few of these legacies of Partition in the city that trigger memories on this side of the border
Walking zig zag between vehicles and people at Lajpat Rai Market near Clock Tower, it is easy to walk past the Lahore Book Shop without much incidence. But, that is only for the uninitiated. For everyone else, the not-so-fancy bookstore is a legacy of the Partition and a destination in itself.
Ludhiana’s literature lovers file into the shop, go through the piles of books stacked one on another and find their pick before heading out with a smile. They say the store is a faithful witness of change while sticking to its roots.
The year was 1940, the place Lahore and Jiwan Singh, who had just finished post graduation in English, had many career opportunities staring him. He could have a cushy government job or work as English professor in any college of the time. But Jiwan decided differently and started the ”dicey” business of publishing Punjabi literature. His motivation was the desire to promote Punjabi and help students easily get books in the language.

Read the complete piece at:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/05/28/city/lahore/a-little-piece-of-lahore-in-india/

Lahore circa 1933, II

By Raza Rumi:
I am grateful to Naeem Ahsan Jamil for sending more old pictures of Lahore from his private collection.

Photo 1:

Kim's Gun, The Mall Lahore

Photo 2

An aerial view of Lahore Airport with the GOC House.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh at Lahore Railway Police Station

Shaheed Bhagat Singh photographed secretly at Lahore Railway Police Station, during his first arrest 29 May to 4 July 1927 – in connection with Lahore Dussehra Bomb Case (25 Oct 1926) with Gopal Singh Pannu DSP, CID Lahore.

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

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

Lahore – Before Partition- rare footage

Historic footage of Lahore city circa 1946 shot in Technicolor with views of two partition veterans on how the city has been changed after partition. Sites that have been captured are The Mall Road, Lahore Gymkhana (Old Building now Quaid-e-Azam Library), Lahore Museum, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort, Delhi Gate, Walled City, Circular Road etc.

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

Dai Angah’s Tomb, Lahore

This photograph of the tomb of Dai Angah in Lahore was taken by H H Cole in 1884 for the Archaeological Survey of India. Wife of a magistrate in Bikaner in Rajasthan, Dai Angah was wet nurse to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1628-57). Inscriptions give the date of construction as 1671. The single-storey tomb is brick built and faced in painted plaster and tile mosaics in colourful floral and geometric motifs. Its square plan comprises a central domed chamber with eight further chambers surrounding it. There is a domed kiosk at each of the building’s four corners.

Recent picture of Dai Angah’s tomb.

Posted by:  Shiraz Hassan

Revisions to the ‘facts’ on Mubarak Haveli of Lahore

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

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

WHEN THE ‘WILD’ PROVED MORE EDUCATED

By Majid Sheikh
Dawn, Sunday, 24 January 2010

When the British conquered Lahore in 1849, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor
General, declared that he would educate the “wild illiterate Punjabis” in a
new system of Anglo-Vernacular education. When they started the East India
Company Board was shocked by what already existed.

The board was amazed to find that the literacy rate in Lahore and its
suburbs was over 80 per cent, and this was qualified by the description that
this 80 per cent comprised of people who could write a letter. Today, in
2010, less than nine per cent can do this, while 38 per cent can sign their
name, and, thus, are officially ‘literate’. If you happen to read Arnold
Woolner’s book ‘History of Indigenous Education in the Punjab ’ you will come
across some amazing facts we today just do not know. To understand the
situation it would interest scholars to go through the ‘A.C. Woolner
Collection in the Punjab University Library. My review is a scant one. But
studying other similar pieces provides a picture of the educational system
as it existed in Lahore in 1849 when the British took over. Continue reading

Ajoka’s new play on “Dara Shikoh”

Posted by Raza Rumi

It is absolutely a great development. Ajoka has decided to stage a play on a personality that has been neglected by India and Pakistan. His views and role in history challenges the myths of Indian and Pakistani nationalism and confronts religious militancy rampant in the two countries. Had Dara – the visionary, sage and believer in humanism – lived, we may have avoided blood, carnage and violence that defines South Asia of today. Those interested to explore the hidden history, removed from textbook propaganda must watch this play. The venue and timings can be found at the end of this post. Now the formal introduction to the play:

Dara – A play on the life and times of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh

Ajoka’s new play “Dara” is about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb. Dara was not only a crown prince but also a poet, a painter and a Sufi. He wanted to build on the vision of Akbar the Great and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for the Truth and shared teachings of all major religions is reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play also explores the existential conflict between Dara the crown prince, and Dara the Sufi and the poet. Continue reading

Explore the walled city of Lahore and its historic gates

Lahore is the capital of Punjab, the most populated province of Pakistan, and is known as one of the ancient cities in South Asia with its rich historical and cultural heritage.
The early history of the city is cloaked in obscurity and it is pretty difficult to establish exact date of its foundation. It was a town of not much importance in the first and second century of Christian era and was ruled by Rajput princes. In the eighth and ninth century, it became the capital of a powerful Brahman family, who, in the tenth century, were invaded by Sabuktagin and his son Mahmud Ghaznivide. For the next eight centuries, Lahore was ruled by different Muslim dynasties and served as the capital of Ghaznivides, Ghorians, and Mughals from time to time. At the onset of the 19th century, the Sikhs ascended to the throne of Punjab and Lahore was made the seat of government. Shortly after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839, the British defeated the Sikhs and took over their domains. It served as the capital of the undivided province of Punjab until 1947 under the British rule and after independence, it became the capital of the province of Punjab in Pakistan. Continue reading

Nadira Begum’s tomb – faded glory of Lahore

Saad Sarfraz Shiekh’s excellent article and photos

The tomb of Nadira Begum...

The tomb of Nadira Begum…

Finding Nadira Begum’s Tomb isn’t hard since its right next to Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir’s shrine.

Nadira Saleem Banu was the wife of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, the ill-fated heir to Shah Jahan’s throne and the crown prince of his Indian empire.

She died in 1659, several months before Dara Shikoh execution, and was survived by two daughters. No sons survived thanks to Aurangzeb Alamgir, who got rid of all male threats.

Stories of Nadira Banu’s beauty and intelligence were famous throughout the empire. She was the daughter of Shah Jahan’s half-brother, Prince Perwez, and therefore Dara Shikoh’s cousin.

Her would-be husband Dara Shikoh was eager to marry her and had a good relationship with her throughout his turbulent life. He never remarried, in spite of the common Mughal practice of persistent polygamy and overflowing harems. Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal, Dara’s mother, arranged the marriage when both Dara and Nadira were teenagers.

Dara Shikoh’s sister Jahanara Begum got along with Nadira quite well, as reflected by her involvement and interest in Nadira’s wedding and her closeness to him. Continue reading