This article was originally published on TNS
Work on restoring Masjid Wazir Khan’s eastern façade and forecourt is fast underway, despite the challenges, and the place is likely to be open to public by the end of this month
This article was originally published on TNS
Work on restoring Masjid Wazir Khan’s eastern façade and forecourt is fast underway, despite the challenges, and the place is likely to be open to public by the end of this month
عدنان خان کاکڑ
لاہور برصغیر کا وہ شہر ہے جو ہر دور میں اہم رہا ہے۔ خواہ رامائن کا دور ہو جب رام چندر کے بیٹے لوہ کے نام پر اس شہر کا نام رکھا گیا تھا، یا ہندو شاہی کا دور جب لاہور ایک بڑی ہندو شاہی سلطنت کا دارالسطنت تھا جو پنجاب سے لے کر موجودہ افغانستان کے مزار شریف تک پھیلی ہوئی تھی، یا غزنوی دور تھا جب لاہور سلاطین غزنی کا پایہ تخت بنا، یا پھر خاندان غلاماں کا زمانہ تھا جس کا پہلا سلطان قطب دین ایبک یہیں انارکلی میں جاں ہار گیا۔
اور مغلوں کی تو بات ہی کیا تھی۔ ہمایوں کے بھائی کامران مرزا کی غالباً پورے برصغیر میں ایک ہی نشانی بچی ہے۔ دریائے راوی میں کامران کی بارہ دری۔ اور پھر اکبر آیا تو چودہ سال تک اس نے لاہور سے اپنی عظیم سلطنت کو چلایا۔ جہانگیر یہاں دفن ہوا اور شاہجہاں یہاں پیدا ہوا۔ اورنگ زیب کے عہد میں بادشاہی مسجد اور قلعے کا عالمگیری دروازہ تعمیر ہوئے۔
شاعرانہ طبیعت رکھنے والے مغلوں کے اس محبوب شہر نے ان سے خراج محبت پانے میں کمی نہ دیکھی۔ یہاں قلعے میں شیش محل اور دیوان عام و خاص بنے۔ نور جہاں اور جہانگیر کے عالیشان مقبرے یہیں تعمیر ہوئے۔ شالیمار باغ بنا۔ مغل باغات کے شہر لاہور میں اور ایک اور وسیع باغ اورنگ زیب کی بیٹی زیب النسا نے بنوایا۔ روایت ہے کہ یہ وسیع و عریض باغ موجودہ نواں کوٹ اور سمن آباد سے لے کر قدیم شہر کی فصیلوں تک پھیلا ہوا تھا۔ اس کے چند ہی آثار باقی بچے ہیں۔ چند بچے کھچے برج سمن آباد اور نواں کوٹ کے گھروں کے کونوں کھدروں میں موجود ہیں اور کسی وقت بھی کسی نئے گھر کی تعمیر کے لیے ڈھائے جا سکتے ہیں۔ اس کی صرف ایک نمایاں نشانی بچی ہے۔ چوبرجی دروازہ۔
یہ آرٹیکل BBC Urdu میں شایع ہوا۔
لاہور شہر تاریخ کی ایک کتاب کی طرح ہے، جیسے کتاب کا صفحہ پلٹتے ہی الفاظ سے تراشی گئی ایک نئی تصویر ابھرتی ہے اسی طرح سر زمین لاہور کے سینے کو کریدیں تو ہر کونے میں خطے کی خوبصورت ثقافت اور روایتوں کی نئی داستان سامنے آتی ہے۔
ایسا ہی کچھ ہوا ہے اندرون شہر کے دلی دروازے میں جہاں مغلیہ دور کے شاہی حمام کی کھدائی میں ایک انتہائی سائنسی انداز میں بنا نظام دریافت ہوا۔
دلی دروازے کی شاہی گزرگاہ میں جڑا پہلا نگینہ مغلیہ دور کا یہ حمام ہی ہے جو سنہ 1634 میں شاہ جہاں کے گورنر وزیرخان نے عام لوگوں اور مسافروں کے لیے تعمیر کروایا۔ ماہرین کے مطابق یہ مغلوں کا واحد عوامی حمام ہے جو اب تک موجود ہے۔
تاہم اب اس کی عمارت میں بہت سی تبدیلیاں آ چکی ہیں۔ 50 کمروں کے اس حمام کی تزئین وآرائش کو دیکھ کر یہ تاثر ملتا ہے کہ حمام صرف نہانے دھونے کے لیے استعمال نہیں ہوتا تھا بلکہ یہ لوگوں کے میل ملاپ اور ذہنی آسودگی کی جگہ بھی تھی۔
لاہور مجھے مقناطیس کی طرح کھینچتا ہے۔ اس کی قدیم تاریخ، اس کی گلیوں میں اڑتی ہوئی غزنوی، غوری اور تغلق لشکروں کی دھول، ان کی تلواروں سے قتل ہونے والوں کی کراہیں اور ان کے چنگل میں پھڑپھڑاتی ہوئی عورتوں کی آہیں۔ تمام مناظر آنکھوں میں زندہ ہوجاتے ہیں۔ مغل بھی فاتحوں کے انداز سے آئے تھے اور پھر لاہور کے ایسے اسیر ہوئے کہ اس کے در و بام پر اپنے نقش چھوڑ گئے جو آج بھی سانس لیتے ہیں۔
یہاں نورجہاں ایک معتوب اور معزول ملکہ ہونے کے باوجود اپنے محبوب جہانگیر کا شایانِ شان مقبرہ تعمیر کراتی ہے اور خود ایک ایسی قبر میں سوجاتی ہے جس پر خود اس کے کہنے کے مطابق یہ مصرعہ صادق آتا ہے کہ برمزار ما غریباں نے چراغے، نے گُلے، نے پر پروانہ سوزد، نے صدائے بلبلے۔ نادر شاہ درانی اور احمد شاہ ابدالی نے اس لاہور کو کس طرح نہیں روندا جس کی آبادی میں مسلمان بہت زیادہ تھے۔
مہاراجہ رنجیت سنگھ نے اسی لاہور میں اپنا دربار سجایا اور اسے لاہور کی تاریخ کا ایک یادگار باب بنادیا۔ اور پھر آج کا لاہور جہاں پھولوں نے سرخ، عنابی ،اودے اور نیلے پیرہن پہن رکھے ہیں، جہاں فوارے اچھلتے ہیں اور برابر سے گزرنے والوں کو اپنی پھوار میں بھگودیتے ہیں۔
یہاں کے تعلیمی اور تہذیبی ادارے صدیوں کی تاریخ رکھتے ہیں اور اسی لیے لاہور مجھے مقناطیس کی طرح کھینچتا ہے۔ وہاں سے کوئی دعوت آئے تو دل شاد ہوتا ہے اور دعوت بھی اگر ہماری طرح دار شاعرہ یاسمین حمید کی طرف سے ہو جن کی دل گداز شاعری اپنا ایک خاص اسلوب رکھتی ہے اور جنہوں نے کئی برس سے لمز کے گرمانی سینٹر برائے زبان و ادب کا انتظام و انصرام سنبھالا ہے اور اپنی ذمے داریاں بہ حسن وخوبی نباہ رہی ہیں۔
مضمون کا بقیہ حصہ پڑھیے
This city, of immense historical importance, is towards the south of Lahore. Till 1972 it was part of the Lahore District, when after the separation of Lahore and Kasur, it was made part of the Kasur District. It still is a vital city, in economic and political terms; however, the influence that it enjoyed once is no longer exists. During most of the Mughal era it served as a Chaoni, or cantonment area. Arms and ammunition for the royal army were made here on a massive scale. Towards the Western side of the city remains of large pieces of iron are found; relics of the arms factory.
As one explores historical records and books, one would find numerous references to this city. The list is so long that it would not be possible to narrate all of them here. A few of them eliciting the significance of this city are mentioned below.
According to the Archaeology Department report, there are 7 major mounds here, categorized into two. Category A; belonging to the era after the 16th century CE, and B falling in between the 11th and the 16th century CE. Some of the latter mounds, not of archaeological importance, were formed during the massive flooding of the 18th century in Beas River. These mounds encompass the city, serving as picnic spots for the residents.
According to the Encyclopedia of Sikh Literature, Chunian is the plural for Chuni which means pearl. It is believed that this city was originally inhabited by Chodas, or the untouchables. During the Mughal era, there was a Muslim Saint known as Peer Jahania. When he came here he converted all of these people to Islam. Chunian, meaning pearls is a symbolism for the untouchables. According to this narrative the tomb of the Peer Jahania becomes the most important location of the city. This is where the Saint is said to have established himself. The tomb is accompanied by a modern mosque, in the courtyard of which is a small building, depicting pre-British era architectural techniques. This marks as the spot where the Sufi used to sit. It is empty from the inside.
In Tehrikh-e-Cambhon written by the police inspector Abdul Wahab Amritsari, he narrates a story that takes back the history of Chunian, all the way to the arrival of the Arabs in Sindh. He describes that when Muhammad Bin Qasim attacked Sindh, Chunian was being ruled by a man belonging to the Cambho clan. He had a daughter and a son. This city was under the sway of Multan, so when the Muslims got hold of Multan, Chunian automatically fell in their lap. They demanded a large amount of compensation from the ruler. He retorted that since it was a huge amount he should be allowed to make the payments in installments. He was permitted to do that, but Muhammad Bin Qasim asked for a guarantee in return. The King gave him his boy, Maha Chawar, who was taken by Qasim to Arabia.
Living under Muslim influence, the boy embraced Islam. Five years later when the King of Chunian was able to pay the entire amount, the Prince was allowed to return. However, instead of being welcomed back, Maha Chawar was castigated for having abandoned his religion, and being polluted by the ‘barbarian’, by the Hindu priests. It was decided that he should be returned back or be killed. Since the boy had just come back, there was no option of him returning, so plan B was to be executed. His sister Kangna heard of the plan, and along with her brother fled the city. The army of his father kept on following the siblings, until they were intercepted at Mandi Borewala, where they were murdered. Later Muslim rulers built a tomb there to commemorate their memory. Today the mausoleum stands, known by the name of Diwan Chawali Mushahiq Haji Muhammad Sheikh. Kanganpur, a village in the tehsil is named after Kangna, according to this story. However, besides the mounds there is no building or any other such remains from that tenure in Chunian. Most of the old buildings have been replaced by new constructions. A few of the balconies, doors, and havelis that are left, are in dilapidated state and not any further back then the Sikh era.
The present city of Chunian came into being in the Mughal era, when the royal arms and ammunition were being manufactured from here. It is standing on a mound, originally protected by a wall with various doorways. Not many are present today, and the traces of the wall are also missing. At its zenith the mound has to be about 40 feet above the ground. Tajamol Kaleem, local Punjabi poet was kind enough to entertain and show us around the city.
Towards the eastern side of the city, near the old route of river Beas there is a non-functional Jain temple. At the start of 2010, a controversy arose regarding the building. Accompanying the edifice is a Wahabi mosque, members of which wanted to take over the building and use it for its own purpose, according to Kaleem. However, Kaleem, along with other friends reached the spot, before the action could be taken, and presented the case in such a manner that the local elders refused the mosque to take over the temple. It was argued that the sanctuary was an Imanat and a Muslim doesn’t renege from his promise. At least temporarily the tension has been defused. There was still apprehension in the atmosphere when we reached the spot to take a few photographs. Hostile looks followed by a few tirades greeted us.
Nearby was the Harchoki gate. As most of the historical doors, this one is named after the historical village of Harchoki, towards which it faces. In the 18th century CE, an epic war was fought in the fields of the village, also wrapping within it the city of Chunian. This entire episode can be found in the famous book Punjab Chiefs, by Sir Lepel H Griffin.
In the early 16th century CE, when Babar was on his way to capture the throne of Delhi, there was an internecine war in Afghanistan, which led to an exodus of many Pathan tribes. They met Babar on the way, and helped him in winning the decisive battle of Panipat in 1525. As a result of their loyalty to the Mughal they were given impressive titles, and control of Bengal. In 1569, when Jahangir was borne to Emperor Akbar, after the lapse of a lot time all of the notables came to pay homage to him, expect these Pathans. Akbar angry at their insolence demanded that all of their titles and property be taken away. When they started returning to Kabul, the King realized that they were a huge asset to the Mughal Kingdom, therefore he send Abu Fazl, the composer of Akbar-Nama to console them. They were given the permission to settle anywhere, which is not near Delhi. They settled for Kasur.
At that time the ruler of Chunian was a man called Raja Rai. Pera Baloch a ‘dacoit’ from here was a source of irritation to the ruler. When the Pathans commenced making their forts here this ‘dacoit’ also started attacking them, taking away his loot in the darkness of the night. Finally, in a fight he was killed, by the Pathans, which went on to establish their authority in the region of Kasur and Chunian.
In 1720, the Pathans descended on the fields of Harchoki, along with Nawab Hussain Khan, ruler of Kasur, the mayor of Chunian, Sardar Fazl Khan, against the might of the Mughal Governor of Lahore, Abdul Smadh Khan. From the very beginning the former group was destined to lose fighting with only a force of 10,000 against an army of 70,000. The death of Nawab Hussain Khan in this battle translated into a defeat for his army in the battlefield. This historic battle however found a way into the cultural psyche of the people of Punjab. It became a symbol of rebellion against an oppressive tyrant. It is also evoked in the famous Heer by Waris Shah.
Symbolism of this battle in Heer is a useful yardstick to gauge the importance of this town in the cultural history of Punjab. Despite language and cultural barriers, Heer goes on to unite the people of Punjab under the banner of Punjabi nationalism. There is however, another folk tale originating from the city of Chunian, much larger in its scale of influence than Heer. This is the story of Sassi Punnon connecting Punjab with Sindh and Baluchistan. It is generally believed that Sassi, the protagonist in our story was the daughter of King of Bhambour. However according to an article published in Imroz in 1970, written by Advocate Syed, Sassi was born in the city of Chunian, from where she reached Bhambour in a basket as an infant, when her life was threatened by the prophecy of a female bringing shame to the city. If credibility is to be allotted to this version then this folk tale originated from this city.
Chunian today, even though donning a modern garb, represents a traditional city that has continued to hold significance over the years. Despite the fact that most of the older buildings, e.g. the Shah Jahani mosque near the tomb of Peer Jahania, and other forts and gates of the city have been lost, the ambience of the city takes one back in time, connecting its past with its present. A journey to Chunian therefore is more like a journey through time, which becomes much more meaningful if its importance has been established as a crucial city in the folk lore of Punjab.
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
by Haroon Khalid
There are few people who have challenged the status of Gandhi as being the most famous leaders of the Indian Freedom Movement. Bhagat Singh at the age of 23 was able to do that. This name has received immense coverage in the recent years, courtesy of the Indian cinema. Had it not been due to the recent popular Indian movies, not many people in Pakistan would have been aware of this young revolutionary, who shook the foundations of the British Imperial Empire, and gave a new impetus to the freedom struggle. His methods and methodology was a marked departure from the popular modus operandi of the Congress Party. Initially Bhagat Singh supported Gandhi’s cause, but after the sudden end to the non-cooperation movement following the Chauri Chaura incident, he was disillusioned by the non-violence of Gandhi, preferring doing things his own way. Bhagat Singh says in his writings that when the deaf can’t hear, their ears need to be pulled up; ‘To make the deaf hear’. His bombing of the Delhi Assembly was to achieve this purpose. The aim was not to kill anyone, as a low intensity bomb was used, and it was thrown at a vacant location, where minimum damage could be achieved. It was thrown only with the purpose of making their voice reach to the ears of the rulers. Gandhi rejected the ‘cowardly’ act; however both Jinnah and Nehru developed a romantic association with this young patriot and tried till the end to stop the hanging of Bhagat Singh. Continue reading
by Haroon Khalid
Many historians believe that original city of Lahore is not the walled city of today but in fact the locality of Ichhra a few kilometres from the area. Various evidences are shown to prove this thesis, one of which is that the oldest Hindu temples exist in the locality.
Right now we would not delve upon the already established evidences but would try to look at new traces that can shed some light on the history of the city. In popular myths and legends it is believed that the city of Lahore originates in antiquity. A popular myth is that this city was founded by one of the twin sons of Sri Ram and Sita, Lahu whereas the other son established the twin city of Kasur. Continue reading
By Sher Ali Khan
During the time of the British rule in India, Lahore was known as the “Paris of India”. The reasons are quite clear. To begin with, romance in the east can be defined as the individualistic struggle of the heart. Romantics provide inspiration to a society in their daily lives. The romance of ones city is judged by the general ambience created within the realm of that society. A romantic culture is sustained through literature and arts. Writers, poets, and artists would frequent teahouses where they would orate and document the experiences of the city.
To start out, the Mughals instilled a romantic quality into Lahore by developing monuments such as the elegant Badshahi Masjid and the Lahore Fort and then the British gave to the city one of the most beautiful green spaces known as Lawrence Gardens. Furthermore, the Mughals created a proud and close people culture that would inspire literature and art for many years.
One of the stories from the Mughal era is regarding the wealthy emperor Shah Jahan who constructed a palace in the imposing confines of the Lahore Fort to honour his wife Mumtaz Mahal. As the mother of his sixteen children, Mumtaz Mahal was the love of his life. The general assumption is that she passed without ever seeing the Shish Mahal. Continue reading
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
Saad Sarfraz Shiekh’s excellent article and photos
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
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
The NEWS reports:
US ambassador Anne W. Patterson has stressed the need to protect shared cultural heritage.
She paid a visit to the Lahore Fort to mark the completion of Alamgiri Gate, another US-funded conservation project.
“Every time I come to the Lahore Fort, I am amazed by its magnificent architecture”, said Ambassador Patterson after she was received by Punjab Archeology Department director Shahbaz Khan. Continue reading
The poetry of Shah Hussain explored the socio-political dimensions of Punjabi society
Shah Abdul Latif Bhita’i was a contemporary poet of Bulleh Shah
Dr Manzur Ejaz writing for TFT
Islamic extremism is not new in the subcontinent: At one time even the Emperor Akbar, the most liberal among Mughal rulers, was forced to ban alcohol under the pressure of the religious establishment. However, at that time the difference was that an alternative ideology was also evolving, but this is not the case in the political discourse of today. The Pakistani state has successfully created a disconnection from the tradition of an alternative ideology by promoting the religious version of the ruling Muslim elites – most Muslim rulers were conservative Sunnis – and Mullahs.
The alternative ideology in the Punjab started with the Chishtia’s challenge to the establishment through the rebellious poetry of Baba Farid-ud-din Masood Ganj-e-Shakar (1175-1266). Baba Guru Nanak, following this tradition, critiqued the political economy as well as the system of ideas prevailing in both Hindu society and ritualistic Muslim religion. Nanak negated the political system more directly than anyone else had done in the Punjab before him.
Baba Nanak (1469-1539) was very methodical in his intellectual discourse. In his Japji Sahib, he undertook the rebuttal of the presumptions of the Hindu religion and its philosophy. He negated the Muslim practice of ritualistic practices, but because of Islam’s monotheism his criticism of it was not as harsh as it was against Hinduism. Furthermore, since he absolutely negated casteism and gender differentiations, his main target was Hindu philosophy and its practices. Probably, this is the reason that Muslims wanted to bury him according to Islamic tradition.
On the political level Baba Nanak’s main criticism was against foreign invaders and their religious pretensions. Baba Nanak is the only poet who described the invasion of the Mughal Emperor Babar, (1483-1531). He observed that Babar did not differentiate between Indian Muslims and Hindus and dishonoured their women indiscriminately. According to him, Babar arbitrarily destroyed mosques and mandirs. In conclusion he sums up:
Pap ki janj ley Kabloon dhaia, jori mangay dan vey lalo
([He] mounted an invasion with his sinful party (army) and he demands donations by force)
Baba Nanak also provided a deep insight into the exploitative economic and social systems in India. This was one of the main reasons that he attracted so many Punjabi artisans to his teachings. The class of poor Jat peasants joined him at a later stage. Baba Nanak’s complete comprehension of the system became the basis of a religious and nationalist resistance in the Punjab, while the works of Sufis were not able to induce an organized movement that could sustain itself. This had positive developments in the Punjab as far as putting an end to the invaders from the North was concerned, but Sikhism lost its edge in due course because it became just another organized religion with all the usual ritualistic aspects. Nonetheless, this negative development does not diminish Baba Nanak’s significance as a thinker espousing an alternative ideology to the one enforced by orthodox Islam and Hinduism. Continue reading
By Salman Rashid
Who hasn’t heard of the tunnel that connects Lahore Fort with say, the Shalamar Gardens in Baghbanpura and the other garden by the Dal Lake in Srinagar? Or the tunnel that leads from under the fort in Lahore all the way to the Red Fort in Delhi and to several other places all over the world.
We all know of them. My earliest memory of being told of these incredible super-secret subterranean passageways goes back nearly a half century. I must have been five or six when I and my siblings with several other cousins and relatives took what in my memory is the first grand tour of Lahore. One warmish Sunday we took them all in: fort, mosque and Shalamar. The evening was wrapped up with a mad adventure of getting lost somewhere on the banks of the Ravi — which was then a beautiful river, not a sewer like today. Continue reading
The Lahore Fort, locally known as Shahi Qila, is located in the northwestern corner of Lahore’s Walled City. The majestic edifice is the result of many centuries’ work. According to the Pakistani historian Wali Ullah Khan, the earliest reference to the Fort comes in the history of Lahur (Lahore) compiled by Al-Biruni, which refers to a fort constructed in the early 11th century. Munshi Sujan Rae Bhandar, author of the Khulasa-tut-Tawarikh records that Malik Ayaz, a lieutenant of Sultan Mahmud, built a masonry fort at Lahore and inhabited the city. It is generally believed that present Lahore Fort is the same fort, which was damaged by the Mongols in 1241 and again in 1398 by a detachment of Timur’s army, then rebuilt in 1421 by Sayyid, son of Khizr Khan.
The Fort was extensively refurbished, extended and upgraded during the Mughal era. This is why it is rightly attributed as one of the gems of the Mughal civilization. Emperor Jalal ud Did Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb all added to it. During the period of Sikh occupation, Ranjit Singh added several pavilions on the upper ramparts. Some modifications to the Fort were made during the British period beginning in 1846 for housing facilities for colonial functions. Those modifications have been reverted and efforts made to bring the Fort back in its pre 1846 appearance. Continue reading
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
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
LAHORE: A view of the Badshahi Mosque from Hazoori Bagh. Around 600 people will sit for aitekaf at the mosque for abstinence and special prayers during the last 10 days of Ramazan, starting from the evening of Ramazan 20. Official sources said that around 2,500 people will sit for aitekaf at the Jamia mosque of Data Darbar. Believers seeking God’s blessings and forgiveness will confine themselves to prayers, and entirely devote their time to religion. Sehri and iftari meals will be provided free. The Auqaf Department has made special arrangements for people sitting for aitekaf in Auqaf-controlled mosques. The district government has also made special security arrangements for worshippers. app (courtesy Daily Times)
Pollution damaging beauty of Fort wall – Daily Times 9 September
* Mughal Emperor Jahangir initiated the wall construction and it was completed during reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD
* Wall painting embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings
* Mosaic depicts variety of fashions worn by people of Mughal era
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: Recent permission for parking outside the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD), adjacent to the Lahore Fort gate near the Samadhi Maharanjit Singh, has damaged one of the Fort’s painted walls due to the emission of smoke from the parked vehicles, sources told Daily Times on Monday.
According to government statistics, the parking stand, adjacent to the Shershah Wali plot, was once a beautiful garden under the Parking and Housing Authority.
The wall’s construction was initiated by Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD. It represents a series of tiled montage panels, which historically are amongst the world’s most spectacular sites. It is a remarkable amalgamation of unique designs. It is embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings and is 450 metres in length and 17 metres high
The decorations are between two cornices, which are divided into a double row of differently-sized arched recesses. The fresco paintings are carried out in the arched recesses, while the spandrels are tastefully decorated with tile mosaics, displaying men, fairies, elephants, lions, dragons, scenes of animal fights, men playing polo, and numerous other games. The human figures on the wall give evidence of the fashion custom of that time, from the clothing worn by royalty to those of servants and gladiators.
Sources said that even though the parking stand was constructed for visitors and employees of the Fort, the coaches of the Badami Bagh bus stand are also utilising the space. They said that the smoke emitted from the vehicle engines were directly damaging the wall and ruining its beauty.
PAD Director Muhammad Shahbaz, when questioned about the environmental pollution, defended the parking stand by saying it was a necessary requirement for the visitors of the Lahore Fort.
He urged the removal of the GT Road to save historical monuments, adding that even though the GT Road and the parking stand are at a considerable distance, the stand should not be abolished.
NGO Eco Watch Trust President Imran Haider, who five years ago filed a case in the Environmental Tribunal (ET) about environmental hazards to monuments, said that the ET had passed a judgment regarding the parking stands near monuments to be prohibited.
He said that his appeal was to preserve the monuments in general, claiming the parking stand to be the worst form of threat to the wall, adding that it should be restored back to being a mini-garden.
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman told Daily Times that the EPA would ask the Environment Department of the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) to submit a report about the parking stand. He said that he would ask the CDGL to take action against the PAD for not saving the monuments from the hazardous effect of the vehicles.
He said that the EPA, seven years ago, had suggested the provincial government to remove the Badami Bagh Bus stand in order to protect the Lahore Fort from the smoke and dust of the buses. He said removal of the bus stand would help protect the Fort.