Tag Archives: heritage

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

Lohari gate – entrance with anti-itch remedies

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

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

NECKLACE OWNED BY WIFE OF THE LAST SIKH RULER, THE LION OF THE PUNJAB, FOR SALE AT BONHAMS

An important 19TH Century emerald and seed-pearl Necklace from the Lahore Treasury, reputedly worn by Maharani Jindan Kaur wife of Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab (1780–1839), is for sale in Bonhams next Indian and Islamic sale on 8th October 2009 in New Bond Street.

The necklace has six polished emerald beads, one later converted to a pendant, each bead gold-mounted and fringed with seed-pearl drop tassels, fastened with a gold clasp. It comes with a fitted cloth covered case, the inside of the lid inscribed: “From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness The Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower” It is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000. Continue reading

Abandoned pleasures

LAHORE: The paien bagh at the Lahore Fort is without visitors. The garden was adjacent to the sleeping chambers and was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1633AD. It was used only by the inmates of the emperor’s harem. Continue reading

Royal tombs in a shambles

Royal tombs in a shambles
Dawn Editorial

Sunday, 24 May, 2009

It seems that the Taliban are not the only ones who have little respect for national heritage.

Mughal Empress Noor Jehan (d. 1645) was prophetic when she composed the epitaph for her own grave. It runs thus: ‘Pity us, for at our tomb no lamp shall light, no flowers seen/ No moth wings shall burn, no nightingales sing’. What she did not foresee was that a similar fate would befall the nearby tombs of her brother Asif Khan and husband Emperor Jehangir at Shahdara. Continue reading

Lahore: Blossoms, bricks, bravura

Salma Mahmud recalls the beauty of Lahore’s past (The Friday Times)

Maharaja Sher Singh after
a royal bath

Raja Dina Nath was granted the title of Diwan
by Ranjeet Singh in 1826

Ranjit Singh holding a darbar

A malang dancing at Shah Hussain’s mazaar

The demolished Shivala used to be a gathering place for Kashmiri pundits

” align=”justify”>Some felt that Raja Dina Nath’s falseness was the means to his success, for he never hesitated in deserting a losing party or a falling friend. There were others who testified to his generosity towards faqirs and orphans

If one is to be unbiased, then one must admit that The Lion of the Punjab was a great lover of natural scenery and greenery. He passed an order that not a single spot of barren land should be visible along the five miles between Delhi Gate and Shalimar. The GT Road was thus lined on both sides by eager courtiers and noblemen vying with one another to plant trees, gardens, parks and green fields … Lahore was in truth turned into a city of gardens

FFor those who love Lahore there is a mystical connection between themselves and the city. Regardless of its current ravaged and bereft condition, it continues to tug at the heartstrings with its lure and lustre.

And as you drive along the old Shalimar Road, the mist is thick, grey, smoky. You can almost eat it. This ancient road is withdrawn, remote, secretive, compressed within itself, surrounded by its dreary new townships.

Yet it is still full of magic, the magic of things half-seen in a dream, the magic of the barely visible or the partly remembered, which is the very stuff of dreams. Wily Raja Dina Nath’s legendary garden exists in this dream to the east of the old road, laden with fragrant blossoms, fruit trees, fountains, pleasure domes and pavilions. And the ruins of Shah Bilawal’s Baradari lie crumbling along the way, where Ranjit Singh’s heir Maharaja Sher Singh and his seven year old son and his retainers were brutally murdered by the Sandhanwalia conspirators. Surely all that blood must still exist somewhere under the earth? And perhaps it will cry out one day against the Qabza group’s encroachments on the Sher Singh family samadhs. Latrines have been constructed through the retaining wall, into the mound atop which stand the sacred chatthris. What further desecration could be possible? Recall the exquisite painting of the young Sher Singh after his bath, sitting with his curling hair spread out over his shoulders, and recoil from the current morass.

‘Nadiyon paar Ranjhan da thaana,

Mintaan karaan malah dey naal

A turning to the left off the Grand Trunk Road takes you to the tomb of Shah Hussain, the 16th century Sufi saint, whose festival of lights Lahoris celebrated at the end of March. The entrance is marked with a gateway of brick composed of a multi-foil of several leaf-shaped curves, and a simple cusped projecting archway through which a few steps lead you into an elevated court. The enclosure of the tomb is large, with a small graveyard located on the east side. Somewhere here lies Ustad Daman, one of Lahore’s beloved icons, who spent the last years of his life in Shah Hussain’s Hujra, situated below a mosque near Heera Mandi.

A well adds ambience to the area, and large old trees provide shade and tranquility. Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s beautiful Muslim wife Moran, a former Amritsar courtesan, whom he affectionately called Moran Sarkar, built a small mosque in the environs of the tomb as a token of reverence for the saint. Unfortunately this entire structure has been demolished and rebuilt.

Ranjit Singh, apart from giving lavish donations to the shrines of Hazrat Mian Mir and Baba Farid, was a great devotee of Shah Hussain, and a sincere believer in his powers of performing miracles. Two of these are worthy of mention, the first being his reputed ability to change wine into milk and then back again into wine. He is alleged to have performed this miracle at the court of the Great Mughal, Akbar Badshah.

The second miracle was his supposed power to transport human beings from one place to another. He is said to have achieved this for his beloved disciple Madho, who expressed a wish to be with his parents at Haridwar, where they were performing their pilgrimage. His parents saw Madho bathing in the holy waters of the Ganga, which was considered adequate proof of Shah Hussain’s supernatural powers in this regard.

Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s intensely controversial figure still permeates the area between the Fort and Shalimar. He used to celebrate both Basant and Mela Chiraghan with great enthusiasm at Shah Hussain’s mazar as well as at Shahjehan’s romantic garden. On Basant all his courtiers were ordered to wear yellow clothes, and much of the food served during the festivities was yellow in colour. His cavalry stood at attention on the route from Delhi Darwaza to Chah Miran, as he wended his way along the GT Road, with Moran riding beside him on an elephant. Dancing and singing and carousing were the order of the day on both occasions.

His forty year rule was a strictly secular one, and two of his most trusted advisors were the celebrated Faqir brothers, Nuruddin the Hakim who cured him of a severe eye infection, and Azizuddin his Foreign Minister. Of the latter’s tact and diplomacy there can be no greater proof than the celebrated anecdote when the Governor General of India, Lord Aukland, asked him which of the Maharaja’s eyes was the blind one. His reply was, ‘The Maharaja is like the sun, and the sun has only one eye. The splendour and luminosity of his single eye is so much that I have never dared to look at his other eye.’ The Governor General was so impressed by Faqir Azizuddin’s reply that he presented him with his gold wrist watch. (Incidentally, the left eye was the blind one.)

Of Ranjeet Singh’s Hindu advisors, the most intriguing is surely Diwan/Raja Dina Nath, of the large deep-set eyes and neatly clipped white beard, referred to as the Talleyrand of the Punjab. Dina Nath was a Kashmiri Brahmin who came to Lahore in 1815 and soon rose to prominence at the court due to his diligence and brilliance. In 1826 Ranjeet Singh gave him the title of Diwan and granted him many jagirs.

Revolutions in which his friends and patrons perished passed him by, and in the midst of bloodshed and assassination his life was never endangered. Some felt that his falseness was the means to his success, for he never hesitated in deserting a losing party or a falling friend. He maintained his position during the years of anarchy following Ranjeet Singh’s death, and in fact his prestige and power continued to rise. This clearly depicts the strength of his extraordinary talent and tact. Eventually the British made him Raja of Kalanaur in the Jullundhar area.

On the plus side he has been described as physically brave and morally courageous when the occasion demanded it, and thereby he was one of the most successful courtiers of the Lahore Durbar. Nur Ahmed Chishti in his ‘Tehqiqaat-e-Chishti’, praises his boundless generosity towards faqirs and orphans. Chishti’s father Ahmed Bukht Yakdil was tutor to Dina Nath’s family, so this information comes from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

The two elegant havelis that he built near the Wazir Khan Mosque still survive, with several families living in each one. However, the beautiful Shivala or temple complex that he constructed in 1835 near the junction of Vachchuwali and Mohalla Sareen was demolished in 2006 by the Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board, in order to make way for a commercial building. This Shivala was a gathering place for Kashmiri Pundits, all of whom worship Lord Shiva, and their celebrations at Shivratri used to be exceptionally grand. It was two storeys in height, containing a large central courtyard, in which stood a five foot high Makrana marble statue of Shiva in the celebrated Nathraj pose, placed on a large pedestal. The Shivala was constructed of red sandstone, with the main door being of engraved Burma teak. The inner walls Continue reading

Lahore’s history goes rack and ruin

Isambard Wilkinson, The National

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

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

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

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

Rewriting history -Government is considering to extend Lahore Museum

By Waqar Gillani writing for the News on Sunday

The expansion of Lahore Museum according to international standards, is yet to be seen. The old Tollington Market on The Mall which was decided to be used as an extension of the museum, is still locked..

The Tollington Market renovated a couple of years back, was formally inaugurated last year by the then governor. Only a lane divides the two buildings — Lahore Museum and Tollington. The Board of Governors (BoG) of the museum, in its 47th meeting, decided to set up a ‘City Museum’ in the Tollington Market, approving that the artefacts of national museum from the city could be shifted to this place. The board came to the conclusion that Tollington Market was the most suitable place for extension of the museum because of its proximity to the Lahore Museum and approved a subway to connect the Lahore Museum with Tollington Market.

The idea was to get the space to display its over 40,000 artefacts which are lying in the inventory for lack of space. They were scheduled to be displayed at the city museum at Tollington Market after its opening in September 2007. The Lahore Museum has over 60,000 artefacts in its possession. Since the museum did not have enough space, only 20,000 artefacts are on display there. Continue reading

Losing Lahore

Josh Loeb writing for this week’s Friday Times

Delhi Gate – entrance to the
“Royal Route”

The Dhai Anga Mausoleum

The derelict tomb of “Buddu,”
Dhai Anga’s husband

“Cities that survive and prosper are not cities which destroy their heritage. People don’t visit Paris because of business; they visit because it is a beautiful city”

“This country is strewn with heritage,” she continues. “Turn a stone and there’ll be something there. And it should not be the preserve of intellectuals – ordinary people are interested” – Yasmeen Lari

“He who has not seen Lahore has not been born,” the saying goes, yet speak to those interested in old buildings and they will tell you that Lahore is dying.

Earlier this year, English architectural historian Simon Jenkins issued a stark warning. “Lahore’s past is collapsing around it,” he wrote in a British newspaper. “Hovering over its ancient walls is a sense of utter neglect.” He went on to warn that cities that neglect their past endanger their future. If this true, Lahore’s future is bleak.

Take the mausoleum of Dhai Anga, wet nurse to Mughal Shah Jahan. Completed in 1671, the building is situated in what was once a rose garden but is now a mini-wasteland – the haunt of drug-addled young men who pace about with bloodshot eyes beneath the arches of the tomb’s chambers. Of the “beautiful enamelled tile mosaics” proclaimed on the information board outside there is now almost nothing left. Whilst funds are directed towards Lahore’s two world heritage sites – the Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens – other historic monuments are turning to dust.

Mohammad Imran makes a living guiding visitors around historic sights like the Dhai Anga Mausoleum.

“I want to see this building in a good condition,” he says. “I want to see a restoration but I want to see it done in the right way. A lot of buildings are restored half-heartedly. It should be restored to its original shape or else there is no point.”

Imran trots out the old refrain that antique buildings should be looked after for the sake of tourism (something with which Jenkins agrees). But Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect and the director of the Pakistan Heritage Foundation, takes a different view.

“I’m not bothered about tourists,” she explains. “Frankly, the way things are in the country right now, tourists are not going to come anyway. Conserving our heritage is something that should be done for our own pride and for social cohesion. It’s something to understand ourselves by.

“This country is strewn with heritage,” she continues. “Turn a stone and there’ll be something there. And it should not be the preserve of intellectuals – ordinary people are interested.”

Back at the Dhai Anga Mausoleum, two workers from the mysteriously (and perhaps misleadingly) named Archaeological Department are engaged in what appears to be dusting stones. “Small repairs,” explains one, Furqan Ullah, yet there remains an air of hopelessness about the endeavour. Continue reading

Wazir Khan Mosque suffers due to neglect

By Atif Nadeem (The NEWS)

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

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

Ahata Madhu Ram in Lahore – another case of neglect

Ahata Madhuram losing importance due to authorities’ neglect

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: Ahata Madhu-ram (Madhu-ram Compound) is an old site of archaeological importance situated in Old Anarkali’s Food Street. However, it has been losing its grandeur due to the negligence of the authorities concerned.

The ahata is more than 150 years old and has historic structures. Few people recognise it through its original name, as now it is popularly known as Butta Da Ahata (The Compound of Butts). A side lane of the Food Street leads into the ahata. Once the ahata used to have a wooden gate, which has now been replaced by a concrete gate. The structure of the wooden gate resembled the gates of the Walled City.

The corridor of the compound opens into a courtyard around which houses have been built in a circle. Around 17 families reside in the ahata, mostly Kashmiris who settled in it after 1947, when houses were allotted to them. The walls of the corridor have holes in which earthen-lamps could be found, when the ahata did not have electricity, as it is situated outside the city, resident Muhammad Anwar told Daily Times. Continue reading

Mausoleum of Allama Iqbal – Shikwah

LAHORE: A manhole in front of the mausoleum of Allama Iqbal is covered with a concrete slab as its sides appear to be caving in. photo by Abid Nawaz published in the Daily Times

Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) – Lahore Fort

The picture shows the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) at the Shahi Qila, Lahore, Pakistan..

The Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) is located within the Shah Burj block in north-western corner of Lahore Fort. It was constructed under the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631-32. The ornate white marble pavilion is inlaid with pietra dura and complex mirror-work of the finest quality. The hall was reserved for personal use by the imperial family and close aides. It is among the 21 monuments that were built by successive Mughal emperors inside Lahore Fort, and forms the jewel in the Fort’s crown.[1] As part of the larger Lahore Fort Complex, it has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Continue reading

Heat-stricken Lahorites throng Ravi

Kamaran’s Baradari offers added attraction for boating

Khalid Malik

LAHORE: Marred by unending power load-shedding and extremely sultry weather, people here on Wednesday thronged the river Ravi for relief and picnicking as water level is rising there due to recent rains and melting of snow on mountains.

Rush of visitors was observed near Shahdara and Saggian bridges where families enjoyed boating, mangoes, meals, ice cream and got involved in lots of other fun. The green belts and a thick line of trees, thanks to local government efforts, provided an ideal spot along the river to merry-makers. Continue reading

Destroying the heritage- Bhadhar Kali Mandar: a remarkable feat of ancient engineering fading away

 Locals planning to demolish temple to construct residential quarters | Department concerned must intervene
 
Haroon Khalid’s excellent story
 
 LAHORE: An old Hindu temple of historical significance situated in the east of Thokar Niaz Beg, called the Bhadhar Kali Mandar, is facing decay and destruction.

The exact date of the construction of this mandar has not been deciphered but according to the founder of Punjabi research institute, Khojgarh, Mr Iqbal Kaisar it has to be around 2000 years old. The temple has one central building, with a huge pool in the center of the main complex. The walls of the mandar had beautiful frescoes, some of which have managed to survive over the years. The stone pool was fed by 12 wells through an indigenous drainage system.

People visiting the temple to pay homage to Kali Mata, used to bathe in the pool to avoid heat. There were four fountains in each corner of the pool which supplied fresh water to it.

The building of the temple was three storied and there was a wall around the central building. There were rooms inside the temple for the priests and visitors. Inside and outside the temple there were elaborate constructions “Samadhein” for “Sadhus”, which also had frescoes. Five of these Samadhein are still partially intact. Samadhein are basically dome shaped constructions, where the cremated ashes of holy persons were kept. Continue reading

Faces of Lahore


Faces of Lahore

This is a photo by Ane Malik – quite serene and brings out  the glory of Badshahi mosque of Lahore

Requiem for Birdwood – (destroying Lahore’s heritage)

By Masood Hasan (NEWS)
6/1/2008

Here’s to another lost cause in the land of great lost causes – Birdwood Barracks, 22 acres of prime land right in the middle of the city of Lahore and till recently home to the armed forces. The Ministry of Defence, acting more like the Ministry of Offence, has had the ancient barracks pulled down, the rubble carted away leaving ugly mounds where once the barracks stood, the bugles sounded and young muscular “jawans” came out in neat file formation, running in rhythmic tempo as if with one step. Tenders have been duly floated, land values dutifully worked out and auction dates determined. The Ministry of Defence is pressing ahead to make another sale to the highest bidders.

Waris Road, on which Birdwood Barracks stood for so many years from the time of the British, this was quite a road at one time – not as much for the clear pond at the head of the road where well-fed fish swam contentedly but for the folk of genteel disposition who lived here. It was on this road, where Sandy Rollo the great portrait master photographer was seen rowing a boat during one of the great floods that sent the waters of the Ravi rushing headlong over the “Bunds,” across the great length of Ravi Road, past the Badshahi Mosque and down across Bhatti into the lower and then the upper reaches of The Mall and well into localities such as Waris Road, the road that linked Lahore’s Queens Road with Jail Road, past the famous girls’ hostel of Fatima Jinnah Medical College. Sandy Rollo was to Lahore what Karsh was to Ottawa. As he rowed past, hailing all his many friends who lived here, the gasping residents wondered. A boat on Waris Road? What next and what madness had descended on Sandy? More importantly where did he get that boat?

But Sandy Rollo was not a Waris Road resident, as were the Bhandaras, whose stately home, surrounded by huge shady trees and green gardens, was a cultural melting pot and where Bapsi Sidhwa first began to learn about the curious relationships that alter lives and change courses. Mrs Najmuddin, “Mrs Najj” to all who loved this wonderful and warm lady, the woman in whose memory the Najmuddin Drama Society still lives on in Kinnaird though it is a mere shadow of what it used to be, like the college that’s fallen into wrong hands, lived on Waris Road all her life. There was Theo Phailbus, a gentleman and collector of all things to do with movies, movie stars and the occult, and a little further up, the Zaidi clan, the family of portrait photographers who live on through the artistic creations of Shahid Zaidi, still capturing young brides and their husbands in his inimitable way. Continue reading