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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

#Lal Marah#Exploring the Unknown Tomb’s of Ghaznavid

Few years ago I heard about some pre-historic era tombs near Dera Ismail khan. When I first saw the picture of these edifices; I was totally spell bound. The only question revolving in my mind was that why this marvelous architecture didn’t gain much attention? I wished to visit this place but was unable to find the exact location of it.

Finally I found the place and its direction from Google earth so I decided to visit this place. On 23rd December, I along with a friend left for Dera Ismail khan from Lahore, It was one of the most tiring travels of my lifetime. We failed to get tickets for DIK because of two connective holidays of 24th and 25th December. As a last resort we had option of Balouch Transport; one of the oldest buses on roads of Pakistan. It was fully packed with passengers and even the middle walking corridor was jammed with temporary seats. Neither could I move my legs nor could stand on feet’s because of congested space. But despite of my deplorable condition; travelling in public transport helps you to interact with peoples of all colors & help you acquire lots of information. Adding to my misery; the busses started race; it was fun for some but a fearful experience for soft hearted person like me.
We reached Dera Ismail khan before dawn on 24th December. It was a shivering cold morning. Our friend Karim lives there was our host. He arranged bikes for our further travel. Unfortunately the whole city was closed due to holiday. So it took us some time to start our journey on Indus highway. Our next destination was Mahra. This small village situated at some 40 kilometers south of DIK on Indus highway. Further 1.2 kilometers from village will lead to a roadside sign pointing to take right turn for “Ancient Tombs and Graveyard”. It was a seven kilometer long village road and was full of dirt. A watercourse was running parallel to the road. There one can find Temporary houses of IDP’s (Internally displaced persons) of FATA.

It’s not safe to travel alone on this road. One should take some local along or travel in group. After road there is clump of trees on left. From a distance one can see domes of prehistoric tombs. Once we moved inside that clump of trees. We got first full sight. It was amazing four tombs and graveyard; exactly as I saw them in pictures. I was standing among them. This sight gave me a feeling of inner satisfaction; a feeling which cannot be expressed in words. It was an expression of gratitude to great architectures of that era. Locals called this place “Andiray” which means ‘graveyard’ in the local dialect of Pashto. I started asking questions from myself that who could be buried inside those tombs? Whose graves are these? These all are still unanswered questions. Only Dr. Ahmed Hassan Dani has done some authentic research on this place. Dr. Dani was a Pakistani intellectual, archaeologist, historian and a linguistic. In one of his books; “Pakistan through ages”; he points out that this site must have acquired an important geographical position during the travel of Ghaznvids Sultans to Sindh and Punjab.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was part of larger Islamic empires from 963 to 1187, including the Ghaznavid Empire (975-1187) headed by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. Mahmud is said to have made seventeen raids into India. At that time, North India was divided into a number of Hindu states. On the frontier of India, there existed the Hindu Shahi kingdom which extended from the Punjab to Kabul.
Lal Mahara, site is an important Islamic Architecture site dated back to 11th and 12th centuries A D. The site consists on eleven monumental tombs and more than 120 graves. But only four tombs and some graves in dilapidated condition were surviving at the time of protection while the rest seven tombs were completely razed to ground only their traces are visible. The rest four tombs have been preserved and restored only. Presently the site is well preserved and free from encroachment. Tree plantation as a barrier against weather affects as well as to restrict fresh burial (modern and ancient graveyard) has been provided. However keeping in view gradual development activities i.e. housing and agricultural in close vicinity it is necessary to take necessary measures to safe guard the site from any encroachment as well as bad effect of excessive irrigation resulting water logging in future. Features: Architectural features of these tombs are worth to mention. In these corner turrets have provided to tomb 1 and tomb 2 are square in plan. While the other two are without corner turrets and square in shape. Here cut and dressed brick work have applied while blue color tiles have utilized for decoration purposes. Furthermore, all the square chambers have converted into octagons by producing squenches. Deptt of Archaeology conducted conservation work in a large scale and preserved all these four tombs while domes are missing.

Remarks: This graveyard site is well preserved site. From southern side iron grill has provided while to all four sides plantation further strengthened its boundaries. Moreover a local chowkidar (Gulu) is performing his duty on the site.

Someone needs to pick up where Dr. Dani has left otherwise his work and legacy will be lost. We are yet to discover much more than we have already, but archeology is not attractive as being Doctor or Engineer

Thursday, 7 January 2016

#Kotli Maqbara, #Moselousm of Abdul Nabi #Qazi ul Qaza Tomb

Kot Abdullah is a small village located some 42 kms on Narowal Murideke road. A 5 km village road in North West direction connects Kot Abdullah to village  Kotli Maqbara. Further half kilometer northeast of Kotli Maqbra, a magnificent Octagonal Mughal edifice raised from ground having four minarets on each side. This edifice is Mausoleum of “Abdul Nabi”. Like all other historical buildings in country same vandalism found here. The story of ignorance and negligence towards historical heritage. A marvelous Architecture but it is almost collapsing right now.
Aown Ali is a key member of Oriental architecture for Pakistan, Aown in his article, Who lies Beneath Kotli maqbr? That is written:

“This beautiful Mughal monument has not received any attention from British historians and archaeologists and this disinterest continued in the post partition era, eventually leading to its dilapidation.
The minarets are quite similar to the early 17th century buildings like Jahangir Tomb, Dai Anga Mosque and the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. The arched entrance to the underground grave chamber is on the southern side, with three graves wrapped in green silk sheets that bear Islamic inscriptions on them.”

Also great historian Sir Salman Rashid in his blog, How a Saint is Born, Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012  that is written:
“….Wahndo in Gujranwala district is famous only for lawlessness. But there is, near this town, the small village of Kotli Maqbara with an imposing domed Mughal structure in the fields outside the habitation. The ground floor is plain while the basement has three graves. Its minarets recall those of Chauburji in Lahore and, therefore, give us a date of construction.
In November 1991, when I was working on my book on Gujranwala, I thought I had discovered a monument that had escaped the official eye. But my mentor Dr Saifur Rahman Dar told me that this building was mid-17th century and housed the mortal remains of Divan Abdul Nabi Khan, the governor of Wazirabad, successively under Shah Jehan andAurangzeb.
On my first visit, I was told that the building was raised by jinns and was locally known as Deo Minara — Minaret of the Jinn. No one knew who was interred within and the usual refrain was, ‘It’s been there since the time of our grandfathers and nobody knows anything about it.’ In Punjabi plain-speak, this means it could either be millions of years old or one hundred.
There was one interesting story in November 1991: a woman had, of late, started to visit the mausoleum. She dismounted from her escort’s motorcycle some ways away and came dancing to the tomb where she did all sorts of genuflexions at the subterranean graves. She told the people that a vision in her dream had informed her that these three were great heroes of Islam, who had come from Arabia and whose exertions had done much for religion in the heathen land of India. My investigations revealed that this seer of visions was a superannuated dancing woman and prostitute from Chhicherwali, a village outside Gujranwala.
Exactly a year later, November 1992, I took a bunch of college students from Lahore to Kotli Maqbara. Some local hangers-on warned me this being the hallowed burial of a great man of God, we could not go in with our shoes on. We went in nevertheless.
Done with our excursion, our bunch was at the nearby hand pump where we were joined by a group of young men from the village. I was telling the kids about Abdul Nabi Khan when one of the locals interrupted me. What on earth was I babbling on about, he demanded to know. Everyone knew that the tomb housed three saints. The man also said I could believe what I wanted, but everyone knew how supplication at the tomb was answered quickly.

Since when, I asked. And the answer: “This has always happened since the time of our grandfathers. Everyone knows of it.” However, none of the locals could give us the saints’ names.
Nine years later, in early 2001, I returned to Kotli Maqbara. The entrance to the underground burial chamber was now draped with the signature green satin of holy Islamic burials. The new steel signboard had names: Hazrat Pir Makki Shah and Hazrat Pir Atray Shah. The first one was understandable: you want to create a saint, just name him Makki Shah — from Mecca — and you get a ready-made saint. The second name was inexplicable and the third was evidently under consideration.
I went into the village and asked around. Of course, the names had been known since the time of the grandfathers. If no one remembered what the past was like only a year after it had been reinvented, it was foolish to imagine they would now want to recall the time before 1991, 10 years later.
There were stories about how supplicants’ wishes simply came true as soon as they put their foreheads to the ground in front of the graves. Now people took off their shoes about a hundred metres from the plinth of the building. There was a weekly Thursday festival and an annual ursto celebrate the death of Makki Shah. No prizes for guessing who took the pickings from the business: none but the woman from Chhicherwali, who had retired from selling her virtue — though, if she had any is questionable.
Strange place, Pakistan. Tell the truth and watch it rejected; whisper some inane notion to the winds and it becomes gospel.”