Tag Archives: History

CULTURES OF PUNJAB

The geographical entity in the north-western region of India called Punjab, the land of five rivers, has been and still is an integral part of the common pool of Indian culture. Its arts and crafts also form an important part of the deep-rooted artistic tradition of India and are equally rich and significant.

The culture of Punjab prior to the partition of 1947 was a mixture of three strains one flowing frorn Kangra hills, the second from south-western area from Multan to Lahore, and the third from Peshawar w Lahore. Continue reading

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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

Moving Journeys: An Exhibition of Photographs of the Colonial Punjab

Photographs of the Punjab taken by London’s Royal Geographical Society
(RGS) members during the late 19th and early 20th centuries form the
core of the exhibition. The RGS images provide a glimpse of the Punjab
province through the ages, capturing the changes brought on by
different empires and the impact of internal and external migration.
To help interpret the pictures, the exhibition also makes use of
travelogues collected and written by RGS members during the colonial
period. Continue reading

K. K. Aziz on Lahore

Chapati Mystery has published this enchanting post on Lahore. We are cross posting for our readers. Raza Rumi

K. K. Aziz, 82, one of the most renowned historian of Pakistan, is gravely ill in Lahore. He is one of those cherished individuals who dare speak truth without the fear of consequence. He acted as the nation’s conscious for a long while [See especially, The Pakistani Historian: Pride and Prejudice in the Writing of History (1993)]. I am currently reading the second volume of his autobiography and I thought, I’d share this little bit about Lahore from his introduction. Speedy recovery, Professor Aziz.

From the 1920s onwards, perhaps even earlier, Lahore was the most highly cultured city of north India. From here appeared the largest number of Urdu literary joundals, newspapers, and books and two of the Continue reading

The Historian – Online Journal of Government College University, Pakistan

Raza Rumi

Many months ago I received this link to the online journal of the Government College University, Lahore. It has an impressive editorial board and the editor, Tahir Kamran, is a respected historian whose efforts and contributions to revive the near-dead discipline of history deserve more than appreciation.

The said issue of The Historian has diverse articles including On the Making of Muslims in India Historically and Evolution and Impact of Deobandi Islam in the Punjab. And, there are some brilliant book reviews as well. The book that interested me were Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and M.J. AKBAR’s, Blood Brothers: A Family Saga.

I was once a student at this institution albeit for a year only. After years of state control, the recent reforms have improved the quality of instruction and of course the management. Thus the glorious tradition of the Government College shall not wane despite the awful stateof education that haunts Pakistan.

Do visit the website and browse through the pieces if history is your cup of tea.

Lahore stays linked to its past

By Ramachandra Guha

Published: April 18 (Financial Times)

Badshahi mosque
Badshahi Mosque

I first visited Lahore in 1995, illegally. I was attending a conference in Islamabad, and had a visa for that city alone. But I was determined to get to Lahore. I had grown up in a town in north India inundated with refugees from Pakistan’s Punjab. The fathers of my friends had all been educated in Lahore, and spoke in elegiac tones about its colleges, parks, theatres and shops. A book they passed lovingly from hand to hand was Pran Neville’s Lahore: A Sentimental Journey, an account of a sensuous and even sybaritic city, whose residents – at least in this telling – were preoccupied with the pleasures of clothes, food, music and sex.

Speaking of the 1930s, Neville wrote that “Lahore was famous for its sexologists, mostly [Hindu] vaids and [Muslim] hakims. They promised sexual prowess to all those who could afford their expensive formulations, which had ingredients like gold, silver, pearls and rare herbs.” Continue reading

Personal histories: attention Lahore buffs

I have received this letter from Suniti Mohindra based in the US, who is searching for many answers. This email was so interesting that I am publishing it with Suniti’s permission. I am going to look for materials but I would request the readers to help our friend in undertaking this amazing project. History is not the domain of the rulers only. Personal histories are even more important for they give us a humanistic vision of our past and the present. Please leave any information here in the comments section RR

Dear Raza Rumi,

I was researching for the history of Lahore the great City of Punjab where my grandfather Ralla Ram Mohindra came to for his college education in 1892/3 and while finishing his college he came across an advertisement in the local paper where the East India Company was advertising for educated persons for the development of the Railway in East Africa called the Uganda Railway. My Grandfather hailed from Malsian district Jullandhar from the Soodhan Mohalla his father being in the business of leasing land to the farmers and hence from a rich family that believed in Education and the values to be gotten wherefrom. My Grandfather without telling his father Lala Moti Ram (he was the only son) applied for this post was immediately called to Calcutta where he was given a crash course in Administration and telegraphy and with a handsome advance given a ticket to sail for Mombasa, Kenya to report to the General Manager George Whitehouse[who was later knighted]as the Railhead Station Master and took the Railway from Mazeras to Kisumu on Lake Victoria the period was 1896 to 1901.

I am putting together history of my family and was wondering if you may be able to help me in constructing the aura of the Great City of Lahore the then Capital of Punjab. I have pieced together some aspects but these only relate to the fact that there were four sections of the city etc. Is there any material that would help me grasp what the Metropolis of that time was and what great thing it was for some one from a village to come to this Great City, get Educated there and them get the dare devil outlook for adventure and exploration in a spirit of fearlessness to a distant part of Africa then known as KALA PANI.. my love for Punjab aside, the great adventure of my Grandfather and what motivated a young man in his late teens to embark on such a journey is what I want to get a handle on.

Any help from you would be most helpful and please accept my gratitude which I shall duly acknowledge for the courtesy extended.

With respect and regards,

Suniti Mohindra

Lahore’s history goes rack and ruin

Isambard Wilkinson, The National

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

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

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

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

Lahore 1883-4

posted by Raza Rumi

Read this amazing piece, thanks to UQ.

ء1881 دی مانو گنتری موجب ضلع لہور وچ ہندواں، سکھاں تے مسلیاں دی گنتری ویکھن نال ساڈے بہوں عبقریاں دے گویڑ صحیح نہیں رہندے۔ پر اسیں کیہہ کرئیے، اساں تے اوہی لکھاں گے جیہڑا اس گیزیٹئر وچ لکھیا ہویا ہے۔ جو انج ہے،

Read the rest in Punjabi here

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

Living Lohawarana

by Raza Rumi

Also published in Himal Magazine’s October issue

There was a Lahore that I grew up in, and then there is the Lahore that I live in now. Recovering from an exile status for two decades, I find myself today turning into something of a clichéd grump, hanging desperately on to the past. Yet I resist that. Writing about Lahore is a sensation that lies beyond the folklore – Jine Lahore nai wakhaya o janmia nai (The one who has not seen Lahore has never lived). It has to do with an inexplicable bonding and oneness with the past, and yet a contradictory and not-so-glorious interface with the present.

Lahore is now the second largest city in Pakistan, with a population that has crossed the 10 million mark. It is turning into a monstropolis. Had it not been for Lahore’s intimacy with Pakistan’s power base – the Punjab-dominated national establishment – this would be just another massive, unmanageable city, regurgitating all the urban clichés of the Global South. But Lahore retains a definite soul; it is comfortable with modernity and globalisation, and continues to provide inspiration for visitors and residents alike.

Over the last millennium, Lahore has been the traditional capital of Punjab in its various permutations. A cultural centre of North India extending from Peshawar to New Delhi, it has historically been open to visitors, invaders and Sufi saints alike. Several accounts tell how Lahore emerged as a town between the 6th and 16th centuries BC. According to commonly accepted myth, Lahore’s ancient provenance, Lohawarana, was founded by the two sons of Lord Ram some 4000 years ago. One of these sons, Loh (or Luv), gave his name to this timeless city. A deserted temple in Lahore Fort is ostensibly a tribute to Loh, located near the Alamgiri gate, next to the fort’s old jails. Under the regime of Zia ul-Haq, Loh’s divine space was closed and used as a dungeon in which to punish political activists. Continue reading

Lahore as Kipling Knew It

Though now obscured as a tourist destination due to its location 15 miles inside Pakistan, Lahore was the heart of Kipling’s India. Between 1882 and 1887, he worked there as the assistant editor of The Civil and Military Gazette, combing the back alleys of the old, walled city for stories and material for his later fiction. Like the Irish street urchin, Kim, the hero of his greatest novel, Kipling used Lahore as a base to explore the rest of the subcontinent.

Armed with the Penguin edition of ”Kim,” I set out for the Lahore Museum, where Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, had been the curator and where the first scene in ”Kim” takes place. The novel opens with Kim sitting ”astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher – the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum.” It was while astride the gun that Kim meets a Tibetan lama, whom the boy then escorts into the Wonder House.
Lahore...
The Zam-Zammah (Urdu for lion’s roar) is known in Lahore as Kim’s gun, and, except for the brick platform that has been replaced by marble, the copper and brass cannon looks exactly as Kipling described it; a massive icon of imperialism over 14 feet long, mounted on wooden wheels that are well over six feet in diameter. And the Wonder House opposite is just that; in my opinion one of the world’s great underrated museums. Continue reading

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

What lies in a name – the Lahori characters

By Asha’ar Rehman

To all proud Lahoris, here is a small test of their knowledge of the city. Beginning with the old, what is the name of the road that runs between the Pipal House and the Civil Secretariat towards the Baba Ground in front of Chishtia High School before it meets its end in Krishan Nagar? Don’t try too hard. I have been travelling on the stretch — on foot, by bus and by tanga and rickshaw — all my life. I don’t remember if I was ever on the name basis with the road.

I know that nearby is the tomb of Anarkali and towards the Krishan Nagar end stands the incomplete structure belonging to the District Council, not to forget the already mentioned Pipal House, the Secretariat and of course the Punjab Printing Press. All these famous surroundings should make the road important if not famous. It must have a name also, but that is nowhere to be seen today. I asked around on Friday, but got no answers, not even from the couple of men haggling with a mango vendor off Baba Ground, not from the vendor himself. Continue reading

Marvellous City Of Lahore – Impressions of Ranpreet Bal

Ranpreet Bal a visitor to Lahore has shared his impressions in an exclusive article for the Lahore Nama.

I was thinking to visit and explore the Historical City of Lahore for a long time. My first visit was very short with excitement and I tried to visit as many places as I can visit.

I am grateful to my friend and elder brother Jamil Ahmed Mir who received me warmly and made me feel at home and his sons Bilal and Avais who assisted me to see some of the places which I would never be able to see without their support.

Lahore is a City of Gardens, Colleges, British era buildings and Mughal and Sikh architecture old monuments and Havelis.

Some of the places of my interest were Shahi Quila, Samadh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Kharak Singh and Naunihal Singh, Samadh Maharaja Sher Singh and Baradari,Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore Museum, Shalamar Gardens, Punjab University, Landa Bazar, Dayal Singh College, Mall Road, Hall Road, Lakhmi Building, Sardar Dina Singh building built in 1927 on Mall Road, and Gawal Mandi Food Court. The other interesting place is the Canal which passes through Lahore and during Basant Festival it is decorated beautifully.

The British built some important buildings like General Post Office, High Court, Punjab University, Museum, Railway Station, Chief’s College, Government College, King Edward Medical College, National College, Forman Christian College, Dayal Singh College and so many other Victorian style architecture heritage buildings.

The city was famous for its Educational Institutions. Punjab University has the largest campus in the city. Aitcheson College is still the most expensive educational institute The Maharajas and some Chieftains of Punjab got their education from this college. Continue reading

The Royal Passage – Shahi Guzargah

Plans are underway to restore the Shahi Guzargah — the route that the kings used to take.

By Adnan Adil

As a part of its plans to market Lahore’s ancient and living cultural heritage, the Punjab government is planning to preserve and renovate a portion of the Walled City, with the name of Shahi Guzargah, a two-km long trail followed by the Moghul emperors entering the Walled City from Delhi gate to reach the Lahore Fort.

The project has a strong backing from the World Bank whose country director, John Wall, is said to have a strong liking for the Walled City. In August 2005, the World Bank completed a study on the project carried out by a team of experts headed by an Italian architect Raffaele Gorjux, who had developed this kind of street in Fez, Morocco.

Bilquis Tahira, a social scientist and Harold Goodwin, a tourism development expert, have contributed to the study. The study claims it has relied on the lessons learned from previous such projects and on international best practices, involving also the direct experience of the consultant in similar projects in Italy, Morocco and Jordan.

Punjab government officials say the government has allocated funds for this pilot project in the annual budget FY 06-07 and is planning to create an authority to undertake this project. The authority will have powers to carry out its projects bypassing the Lahore Development Authority and the City district government.

The creation of the Royal Passage or Shahi Guzargah, as envisaged in the World Bank’s study, will lead visitors from Delhi Gate, which will be made an equipped entry point to the Lahore Fort connecting along the trail some significant heritage assets of the walled city, such as Shahi Hammam, Wazir Khan Mosque, Kashmiri bazaar, Sonehri Masjid, Baoli Bagh and Begum Shahi Masjid. Instead of taking a straight route from Kashmiri bazaar to Taxali bazaar, the proposed royal trail will turn into Dabbi bazaar Continue reading

Sex, spirituality and history: Searching Lahore?

A few weeks ago when I started this blog dedicated to the inimitable city Lahore; and was lazy to post original stuff – so whatever I found interesting I collated on this blog-space. Quite sheepishly I have to admit that I am most pleased with the way the surfers have stopped here and even commented. Like me, there are many a Lahore-lovers and hence the interest.

Though I was most amused why the traffic was going up – here are the top ten reasons why people halted at Lahore Nama – funny, real and of course revealing:

  1. sexy hot lahore
  2. name of books related culture of lahore
  3. toxic waste multan road shahbaz sharif
  4. old Lahore
  5. map of old lahore walled city
  6. hira mandi
  7. pics of sufi shrines
  8. shrines**
  9. online mujra/sexy mujra
  10. data sahib

I am wondering where is the sexy hot Lahore except the post on Mujras..

They say, LOL…

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