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Monday, 15 June 2015

Remnant of Arched Gateway of Nadira Begum Garden

In the farthest suburbs of Lahore, was a community known as Mian Mir, named for the famous Sufi saint buried there in 1635. The Mian Mir area acquired special spiritual significance for the Mughal dynasty during the governorship of Prince Dara Shikoh, who sought advice from Mulla Shah, a disciple of Mian Mir. Over time, the sites established in the Mian Mir area achieved a remarkable synthesis of Mughal and Sufi tradition.

Further east, on axis, is the tank and tomb of Nadira Begum the wife of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh.
Few years back, I had trotter shoes in my feet. I was always in search of lost, neglected historical architectures sites in Lahore; and when I came to know about them, I could not able to sleep comfortably up till I visit that place. I don’t know, I have strange relation and love with these edifices. In fact  I found inner peace in myself after exploring them.

Few years back, I came to know about this place from one of my friend Syed Faizan Naqvi, who is native of this area. This is 12 ft high tall arched gateway and bricks laid there were of Mughal era masonry pattern. I took coordinates of this site and mapped in Google earth and found that this site is located hardly 0.2 kilometer from Mian Mir Tomb on its North West axis. After discussing with few of  my historian friends, I came to conclusion that this gateway entrance must be part of Mian Mir and Nadira Begum  Garden.

The structure is really in bad condition and may be fall in few years and vanish forever. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Remnant of Bhairav ka asthan, Ichra

Lahore is ever expanding, mercilessly eating away any village or town that comes in its way. Many towns and villages like Niaz Beg, Hanjarwal, etc, which were historically well outside the city are now deemed as part of Lahore. However, even after being incorporated by the phenomenon that is Lahore, such places have managed to retain their past, culture and identity as something that is different from the city itself, and that is what makes this new city of Lahore so interesting and endearing. Whereas most of these settlements do not predate Lahore and were never historically as significant as Lahore, there was nonetheless one such locality, which is believed to have existed even before Lahore did. Its significance chronologically exceeds that of Lahore. This town is Ichhra.

In the popular culture Lahore’s origin is tied to the Hindu mythologies. There are historians who argue that before the walled city of Lahore became Lahore, Lahore actually was the locality of Ichhra. A very interesting observation is presented to substantiate the thesis. Mostly what we find in the appellations of the doors of a walled city is that the gates are named after the city which they face. The Delhi darwaza of Lahore is named so because it faces Delhi, so is the case with the Kashmiri darwaza. There has been some controversy regarding the name of the Lohari darwaza. It is argued that the Lohari darwaza points towards Ichhra. Lohari could be a primeval name of Lahore in this case, and Ichhra would be that historical city of Lahore.

This is a plausible contention according to the British Gazetteer of Lahore, because they argue that two of the oldest Hindu temples are found in Ichhra, viz. Bheeru da asthan and Chand Raat. Sadly, the latter has been lost but the former still looks over the city. However, the question that arises is that on what premises the British say that this temple is one of the oldest temples. The architecture of the building does not suggest this nor do the folk tales.

The temple is on the Ferozepur road behind the Shama stop. In fact the Shama and the Sheesh Mahal cinemas stand today where once the huge pond of the temple was. According to Maulana Noor Ahmad Chishti, there once lived a man called Godar during the tenure of Shah Jahan. He used to handle the accounts for Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Emperor at Benaras. When the prince had an auditor analyze the accounts, it was learned that the accountant had been stealing from the treasury. On this the prince gave the man capital punishment. Legend has that as Godar lay in the prison waiting for his turn to go to the gallows, a man appeared before him. This man asked him to close his eyes and he did as he was told. When he opened his eyes, he found himself at the exact location where today the tall, cone-shaped structure stands. It was a Sunday. The man who had brought Godar here, was sitting on a camel and he was standing next to him. In utter amazement, he asked the man who he was? The man replied that he was Bheeru after which he disappeared.

Bheeru is derived from the Sanskrit word of Bherv, which means Bogey-man. Bheeru is an incarnation of the Lord Shiv-Rudar, who is the Hindu deity of destruction. Shiv-Rudar travels on a dog, and the fear that he excites is such that even the witches and the ghosts are afraid of him. He is usually found near the cremating grounds.

Godar was a follower of Bheeru, and after the miracle, he demarcated the spot, where Bheeru stood, and started his search in the city. He ended up at Shah Alami, where he started living near the Pari Mahal. After adjusting in the new city, he one day gathered a few Hindus and took them to the spot. There he narrated to them the story of Bheeru, after which the spot became known as Bheeru da asthan. He along with other followers made it a regular practice to visit the spot, and present it with garlands, as a token of their reverence. In this way seeds were sown for this place to become a site for one of the most sacred Hindu temples in Lahore.

Later, during the tenure of Ranjit Singh, the mother of his concubine Mora once fell sick. She was diagnosed to have been affected by djinns. Mora was informed that one of the descendants of Godar practiced magic, and he would be able to rid the body of the intruders. According to tradition, she summoned him, and he was able to cure her mother. As a reward for his services, Mora ordered all the villages that were granted to her by the Regal to bring forth a cart of bricks for the construction of a proper temple at the asthan of Bheeru. Bricks from all the hundred villages that fell under her sway came forth. Besides the bricks the total expense for the construction of the present day temple was around 1400 rupees. This temple was further extended by Ram Chandar, the nephew of Sanwal Mal, who was a minister of the Ranjit Government. Besides him contributions were also given by Raja Lal Singh.

There is a big main gate which is followed by a corridor for the entrance to the edifice. At the end of the corridor is another gate. The corridor is around 3 yards wide and 13 yards long. It is embellished by arches on both the ends. Flanking the entrance are rooms. A ground used to follow the entrance whose dimensions were recorded to be 17 x 11 yards. Now however the ground has been taken over by refugees from the other side of the border and new houses have sprouted everywhere. This corridor was added by Raja Lal Singh.

The area east from here was the Langar Khana, where people were given free food. In front of this is the octagonal platform upon which the temple stands. There was also a well next to it. On each side of the temple are arches (mehraab like structures). East from here is another enclosed place where now houses stand. There is a big door here that opens towards the temple. Next to it is a platform where there are 8 samadhis. During the riots following the Babri mosque incident in Ayodha, like other temples in Lahore, people tried to bring this temple down too, but since it was made of strong material, it luckily survived.

Even though the story of Godar is hard to believe there is no doubt that the present day shape of the temple was given to it during the tenure of Ranjit Singh. One plausible reason as to why this temple is called ancient by the British is that the spot where the temple now stands must have been the site of a primordial temple, which has now given way to a modern construction. It is said that a lump of mud signified the holy place before the temple, making it reasonable to believe that some sort of building existed here before this one, and later on the story of Godar was explained for the inception of the temple.
(Copied from Haroon Khalid)

Monday, 8 June 2015

Mubarak Haveli Walled City

March 17, 2013
It was very hard to take permission to visit this place. The havli now turned into Imam-bargha. There is threat of bomb blast so the owners are over cautious particularly for visitors. It was indeed a disappointment to visit that place because all the old architecture has been changed in very short time we took few pictures but due to strange and cautious environment we prefer not to stay there long. The rest of history of this havli is as under The Koh-e-Noor Diamond was recovered from a trapped Afghan king. This 'haveli' has stories galore, ones that make history so interesting. A colossal ‘haveli’ built by Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali and Mir Bahar Ali, sons of a well-known 'tabeeb' and 'hakeem' during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. It took three years to build and when the three brothers moved in, Bahadar Ali's wife gave birth to a son. This was seen as a good omen and the 'haveli' was named Mubarak Haveli. The family continued to prosper in the field of 'medicine' and business. With time they branched off into two major components, the Fakir family and the Syed family. With the start of the Sikh period began years of pillage and looting. Sikh mobs would come and loot whatever they could lay their hands on. While the Fakir family, because their influence in the Lahore Darbar remained in power, it was seen that the Syeds had to flee. The grand Mubarak Haveli remained empty for a few years and people inside the city began to steal the bricks of the western portion of the haveli. It presented a deserted look, prompting Maharajah Ranjit Singh to take it over, for himself and his guests. Afghan king Shah Shuja and his family, who were fleeing from Kabul because of fighting over the Afghan throne, came to Lahore as Ranjit Singh’s guests. The crafty Sikh ruler made them his prisoners and released them only after they gave him the unrivalled Koh-e-Noor diamond. With the coming of the British the Mubarak Haveli was taken over and handed over to Nawab Ali Raza Qizilbash. The Nawab, out of respect to the original owners, rebuilt the haveli and converted a major portion into an Imambargah, which is considered among the finest in Lahore. The haveli then went on to his son Nawab Nawazish Ali Khan and his brother Nawab Nasir Ali Khan. These brothers also managed to rebuild major portions to help the old haveli regain its original glor.

Friday, 5 June 2015



This haveli situated near Heera Mandi, The haveli  was once attractive building with basement. Originally it covered an area of 46 kanals but now the surrounding area has been purchased by public and at present the actual area is 2 kanals. The existing part of the Haveli, which we see today is the court of Raja Dhian Singh while the residential area of the haveli was demolished or sold.
DHIAN SINGH, RAJA (1796-1843), the second son of Miari Kishora Singh Dogra and the middle one of the three brothers from Jammu serving Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was born on 22 August 1796. He was presented before Ranjit Singh at Rohtas in 1812 by his elder brother, Gulab Singh, and was given employment as a trooper on a monthly salary of sixty rupees. Dhian Singh by his impressive bearing, polished manner and adroitness, steadily rose in the Maharaja`s favour and, in 1818, replaced Jamadar Khushal Singh as deorhidar or chamberlain to the royal household.

In this capacity, he had ready access to the Maharaja and became a man of influence at the court. He was at times assigned to military duties as well. He took part in the battle of Naushera in March 1823. As Ranjit Singh, following the death on 30 April 1837 of Hart Singh Nalva, hastened towards the northwest frontier, Dhian Singh marched with his force in advance. Dhian Singh received from the Maharaja endless favours. He was granted a large number of jagirs in the hilly country of Jammu and created Raja in 1822. On 20 June 1827, he was given the title of RajaiRajgan Raja Kalan Bahadur.

He became the principal minister of the Maharaja and the most powerful person in the kingdom after him. The highest distinction came on 21 June 1839 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh proclaimed in the presence of the entire court and the army stationed in Lahore that he had granted full powers to Prince Kharak Singh, the heir apparent, over all his dominions and troops, and that the Prince had chosen Raja Kalari Bahadur to be his Wazir, principal minister or counsellor. The Maharaja also conferred upon Dhian Singh the title of NaibusSalatnati`Azamat, Khairkhwahi Samimii Daulati SirkariKubra, Waziri`Azam, DasturiMu`azzam, Mukh tariMulk.

On the rnorning of the funeral of the Maharaja, 28 June 1839, Dhian Singh expressed his intention to immolate himself on the late monarch`s pyre and had to be dissuaded by the queens and courtiers. Maharaja Kharak Singh himself begged him to continue to steer the State. Dhian Singh agreed that he would remain in the service of Kharak Singh for one year and proceed thereafter on a pilgrimage to sacred places. But he soon found himself at the centre of courtly intrigue. He set afloat the remour that Kharak Singh and his favourite, Chet Singh, were soliciting British protection and were going to compromise the sovereignty of the Punjab.

He summoned Prince Nau Nihal Singh from Peshawar, and won over the Sandharivalia sardars to join him in a plot to kill Chet Singh. The scheme was carried out and Chet Singh was assassinated on 9 October 1839 by Dhian Singh in the presence of the Maharaja who was himself placed under restraint, Prince Nau Nihal Singh running the affairs of the State on his behalf. Death, however, removed from the scene Nau Nihal Singh returning from his father`s cremation on 5 November 1840. Dhian Singh now^hoae to place Prince Sher 8lngh on the.,throne.

He concealed the fact of Nau Nihal Singh`s death for three days, till Sher Singh had arrived at Lahore at his summons. But his plans were upset by his rivals, the Sandharivalias, who decided to support Kharak Singh`s widow, Chand Kaur, as a regent for Nau Nihal Singh`s child yet to be born. On 2 December 1840, Chand Kaur was proclaimed Maharani. Sher Singh went back to his estate in Batala the following day, and Dhian Singh retired to Jammu a few days later. This was, however, only a tactical withdrawal by the astute Raja Kalari. Even while on his way to Jammu, he wrote to army commanders at different levels and to other government officials to render obedience and assistance to Prince Sher Singh upon his return to Lahore.

Sher Singh arrived at Lahore on 13 January 1841 and the bulk of the royal army then in Lahore went over to him. Raja Dhian Singh returned from Jammu on 17 January. Sher Singh was proclaimed Maharaja of the Punjab on 18 January with Dhian Singh as his Wazir. On 15 September 1843 the Sandharivalia Sardars, Ajit Singh and Lahina Singh, assassinated Maharaja Sher Singh and Karivar Partap Singh, the heir apparent, on the outskirts of Lahore. As they were returning to the Fort with the heads of Sher Singh and Partap Singh hung on spikes, they were met on the way by Dhian Singh who was lured into the Fort. As he advanced his claim to be Wazir to the succeeding Maharaja, Ajit Singh fired a shot and killed him on the spot.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Real Story of Three Decades

August 19, 2014
My father visited Khunjerab twice first in 1983 and second in 1987. Road condition at that time was totally different from right now, he and his friends had to travel on Tractor trolley on narrow uncarpeted road to reach the last point of Pakistan on KKH, the Khunjerab Pass.  His pictures standing along with Chinese had always been an astonishing thing for us.

My father used to tell us a story from childhood, this story is 31 year old. This story is about him and Dushka Baig owner of Khunjerab hotel Sust.

During his first visit to Khunjerab they stayed at Sust the last town on KKH. In those days there was only one hotel in Sust named Khunjerab hotel. My father stayed night there and next day early morning headed to Khunjerab, meanwhile in the way he found that his one bag was missing. He recalled his memory and remembered that it was left in Khunjerab hotel. Different things were going through his mind at that time. One, was that owner would never returned it back to him, as there were expensive things in it. Well, after Khunjerab he returned and went straight to Khunjerab hotel and asked Hotel Owner Mr. Dhuska Baig angrily that my bag had been theft from his hotel. Dhuska Baig did not reply to my father but only listened to him calmly. After my father finishing his inquiry, he came close to him and holds his hand firmly and took him to a room in back of his hotel.  It was locked room. Dhuska baig opened the room; my father was surprised the room was full of things left by tourists and travelers my father bag was also there. Dhuska Baig speaks and said,

“These all are Amants (Belongings), we don’t touch them that traveler might come back and asked for his things, we are not thieves.”

My father was embarrassed he hugged him and asked Dushka to forgive him. This was the first part of story.
My father used to tell us this story with an instruction that whenever you go to Sust in future give his Salam to Dhuska baig. He also wished that May Allah give him long life and he is alive.
 In 2014, after lapse of 31 years from my father first visit to khunjerab, I along with my younger brother Salman baig and few friends (Nadir khan, my uncle Nadeem, Talat Saeed and Hassnat Saeed) had plan of visiting Khunjerab pass.

My father still remembered his story but he did not instruct us to meet Dhuska Baig. He thinks that Sust at present would be turned into a big city and no one now knows about Dhuska Baig. But that story was in bottom of mind of both of us brother and we had plan of searching him and meeting him.

On crossing Attabad Lake, we were stuck at Hussani flooded stream. No vehicle was crossing. We were thinking of changing our plans and quit from our plans for going to Khunjerab and returning back from this point. Our friend Nadir khan who was driving the jeep already visited the Khunjerab before and last time at same point his jeep was stuck in water and badly damaged.  I was very sad it is hard to find leaves in private job and visiting Khunjerab is once in a lifetime journey and also meeting Dhuska all were going through in mind. Well no one among us wanted to leave khunjerab. So we decided to leave our  jeep there and crossed the flooded stream on foot. We have planned to reach Sust on van and then hire some jeep from there for Khunjerab. It was extremely hot day and reaching Passu from Hussani was getting tough. We found, there was no vehicle available on other side of Hussani flooded stream for reaching Sust. Well we found difficult to walk after few kilometers. Luckily we found few trucks standing alongside the road due to eid holidays and closing of Sust dry port. In order to protect from heat we all sit along in truck shadows. We were very desperate, it was hard to find any vehicle and moreover no local person was visible to whom we can share our problem. At last we found a local guy, he helped us gave us water for drinking and also he went to his village and brought a van for us so that we could reach Sust in time. We were in the way when our friend Nadir khan whom we left with jeep called us that few driver were able to cross the stream and he is also going for it and we should wait for him at Sust. We thank, Almighty Allah that it’s only his blessing that we could able to see the Khunjerab. We asked from our local van driver about Dhuska baig, luckily he knows about him. But already our too much time was wasted. We went to Khunjerab and returned back to Sust.
On more confirmation at Sust about Dhushka Baig, we were surprised that everybody knows about him and he seems to be some very popular guy of Sust. We were thinking was this the same Dhuska Baig which our father met 31 year ago.
Khunjerab hotel is not operational these days. We at last found the hotel; it was little distance from main town of Sust. There were few guys standing there who look us with surprise and told us that hotel is not operational. We replied, we wanted to meet Dhuska Baig. They said Dhuska Baig is quite old now and he stayed at home most of time and please share reason of meeting with him. We told them our father and Dhuska baig story and said we only came here to say Salam of our father to Dushka.
They gave us chairs and one of them went to call Dhuska.  Dhuska Baig was a wise man who speaks less and smile gently. We also told him the story; he smiled and said I wanted to thanks to your father who remembered him in his mind for 31 years. We both brothers took some photographs along with him and then we called our father. Fortunately, Telenor network service is working in Sust. Both, were happy ot talk  and grateful to each other. It was eight o clocks in night and we were dead tired and wanted to reach Passu to stay in some hotel at night.

Dhuska baig said you came so far only to meet me and further said, it is against their traditions that you would not come to his home and went without even having a cup of tea. Please let me serve he requested. We could not refuse. His home was at five minute distance from there.  Dhuska is Ismaili Muslim; he took us in a special room. The room for old wise people’s which is also used in marriage ceremonies.  The room was square in middle and all outer sides of rooms were further extended in four more squares rooms whose three sides were walled and one side was opening in middle room. In middle a large table was placed on which expensive stones of area were placed. The other four attached room were used for sitting of wise old people’s, one for marriage couples and two for guests.
 All Dhuska Baig family members, his son’s nephews, grandsons and other close relative were in room to welcome us. It was atmosphere of reunion after long time. He asked us to sit at place of wise old people’s. This was honor for us. We were served with a tea and local homemade cake. Dhuska baig told us that he has left hotel management and gave it to his sons and nephew and he is into precious stones business. He stays in mountains for days and search expensive stones. He also told that in Sust there were temples in old time and still the local old knows there locations. Dushka show us some more precious stone fossil stones which have marks of extinct species on them.  He has extremely large collection and he wanted to show us each precious stone in his house. All of my friends ( Talat saeed  and nadir khan ) and my uncle were astonished and feeling honored. It was feeling like some movie was going through in front of our eyes.

On returning back Dhuska give some expensive mountains herbs for my father which he told good for heart disease. He hugged us all and said goodbye. We did not have words to thanks to him. We were going with memories of life time and which we with share with our next generations as my father did with us.

The story which we were listening from our childhood from our father  which was three decade old has great end and in fact beginning of new chapter of friendship with Dushka and my father new generation. After returning back to home from our tour my father was more than happy even joyous to see Dhuska and his family pictures. The only sad thing was that all of my father friends who were with him on Khunjerab thirty one year back were dead; he wanted to tell them that his sons locate Dhuska and pay his Salam to him. His sons travelled and reached to his footmarks. His sons alive his story. 
So the Dushka baig who was in my father stories from childhood really lived.