Friday, November 13, 2009

Kashmiri Gate; Ravi used to kiss its feet

There was a time when furious waves of River Ravi used to hit the wall of Lahore. With the passage of time the map of the city never remained the same and today there are only few signs remaining of the boundary wall of old city. Mughal Emperor Akbar built this 30 feet high wall, which was later rebuilt to 15 feet high during Sikh era.
In the north of old city's boundary wall KASHMIRI GATE is located the plinth of the gate is 13 feet high than the circular garden located outside the wall. Circular Road is the path to enter the gate. In ancient days Ravi used to flow at this point across the wall, this is the reason that the plinth of both KASHMIRI and SHAIRANWALA gate is higher than others.
Certainly the part of the city inside the Kashmiri gate is slightly high. Streets are dark and steep inside the gate. Cars are parked outside the gate and one have to enter in the city by foot. The reason behind the name is the fact that the gate is facing towards Kashmir.
Kanhaia Lal wrote in “History of Lahore” about the gate;

"This gate related to Kashmiris that's why it faces towards Kashmir similarly as Delhi Gate is called Delhi gate because of facing towards Delhi. Or may be the reason that at the time of settling the people, as Bhat got settled near Bhati gate, Kashmiris got themselves settled over here. This gate was also in poor condition and british built it again based on English style and shape of Bhati”

Small building of the gate shows it was less important at that time. No wonder the buildings inside the gate are also not a great art work of architect. The only important heritage is “Haveli Chuna Mandi” (mansion of Chuna Market).
In good old days “TAKIA” used to be an important part of the housing socities. In simple wors TAKIA can be described as a place of entertainment. During the day time people from nearby used to gather here to spent the leisure time. Every Takia had a well and a bath room with it. People used to play chess and cards here, Happy and sad occasions were used to be held here as well. Almost every Takia had a Gym and arena in it. Things never remain the same and as soon as the face of Takias changed people stopped going there.
Takia Lalu Sain is located outside the gate at Circular Road. It was very vast and beautiful place. There is shrine of “Hazrat Kamal Shah Qadri Noshahi Sachyari” in this Takia and the grave of “Lalu Sain” is also nearby. There used to be a Gym and Arena where Famous Wrestler like Ghosia used to work out. Inside the gate there is “Takia Kabutar Shah” on the left along with a small two storey Mosque. This mosque is in straitened circumstance, actually its almost a gone story now. The newly built shops have also hid this Mosque and Shrine. There was a wrestling arena and points of fabric dyers. Today the arena is no more but fabric dyers are still there.
If we further go inside Kashmiri Gate there is “Chuna Mandi Square”, there are three roads, the one at right side leads to Masti Gate, and the left one takes to Old Chief Police Station Square, via Pakistan Cloth Market. Chuna Mandi road, Jamadaran Street and Moti Bazaar all three create the triangle where Chuna Mandi Mansion is located. This Mansion consists of three Mansions about them, I wrote in “Sheranwala Gate; The Witness of Many Tales ”.
“Baba Ki Katrhi” (town of old man) in FARSHI BAZAAR is one important place. Its been said that in ancient times a Hindu Sadhu Baba used to live here. The signs of Mandir still can be seen. After the partition; Musician Families from Amritser, Jalandher, Ambala and from many other places settled in this KATRHI.
Along with artists important and famous people from many walks of life belong to interior Kashmiri Gate. One of them is Khan Muhammad Dara The First Fast Bowler of National Pakistan Cricket Team. Famous Hockey players Shahzada Khuram and Shahzada Atif, and the cyclist and former Olympian Shahzada Shahrukh are also resident of this place. Famous writer Anwar Sajjad arranged many literary assemblies here. He lived here for a long period of time.
Beside the fact locating on GT Road, this gate never been a trade zone like Delhi Gate, Shah-Almi Gate, and Bhati Gate. Unlike other gates of Lahore; Kashmiri Gate have not been a cultural point. Near 90% of the residents have shifted to other places after selling there homes. The residential areas are rapidly turning into commercial plazas and may be in future we would not even find the signs of ancient buildings.

Photography by: Afzal Abbas
This Article was published in Daily Waqt Sunday Magazine 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Witness of Many Tales: Sheranwala Gate

In good old days there were three important gates, towards river Ravi , Kashmiri Gate, Sheranwala Gate and Yaki Gate. Ravi used to flow exactly in front of Sheranwala gate. Sheranwala gate was built during the era of Akbar, during Sikh regime it was damaged as other gates were, but British rule rebuilt it. This gate is at the southern east part of the city wall. We can see the building of Khdamudin Bint Public School, and Molvi Ahmad Ali Masjid and at the left side there is Govt Islamia High School Sheranwala situated, it was built by Anjuman Himait e Islam in 1889. On the outer side of gate Masjid Ghosia Hanfia Bagh wali is located.

The old name of this gate is Khizri Gate; its been said that Hazrat Khizer stepped in river ravi after passing through this gate. Now it is called Sheranwala gate (Lions gate) the reason of this name is that; in the era of Raja Ranjit Singh cages of his two lions were put there. During British rule the cages were picked up but the name remains the same.

The main path of this gate is steep and the reason is gate's nearness to there river. This path lead to Pakistan Cloth Market. Where Old Court Yard is located, and Masjid Wazir Khan is also nearby. Architect Ghafir Shehzad describes the map of the gate as “ on a singlesurface map it consist of one pass through having two rooms built on each side. The structure of gate is different because there is no window as Delhi or Lohari gate have. And it is single story building, there are two pillars on the outer side supporting the arch. The cealing is built slightly higher. These days this gate is victim of deviations and it has lost its original face and if it remain neglected it might even lose its signs”.

The Chuna Market located inside the gate have always got governmental importance. In 1822, during Sikh Era, Ravi used to flow beside the gate. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had 444 lions and they were used to punish serious criminals. About 77 acre land was specified for these lions near Ram Gali (ram street),outside the gate at the bank of river. After 1830 due to some geographical changes river changed its flow path. With the change of flow a great area become dry. In 1840 District Police Lines was built over here whose founder was Hawaldar Subhan Khan, that is why Sheranwala Gate has been devided into three parts; Khizri Mohala, Line Subhan Khan, and Nawan (new) mohala. It is a trend of Lahore is that Saints built mosques near the gates of the city and stayed there. This gate has also been a point of Political and Film personalities.

Many grand mansions were built inside the area by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mansion of Khushal Singh and Mansion of Dhyan sing situated in Chuna Market is notable. Today these buildings are used as educational institutes under the name of “Govt Fatima Jinah College for Women”. Current building of college reflects the great art work of Sikh Era. In 1864 early few classes of Government College Lahore were conducted in these buildings, it was used till 1877 . College was shifted to new building and this cultural heritage remained ruined. In 1986 this building was given to Education Department and this Girl's College came into being than.

This gate is full of historic heritage. The streets and old building tell the tails of old time and people. But this building is loosing its signs due to negligence.Old buildings are in straitened circumstances, abundance of deviations, and illegal construction are creating harm to this historical heritage. If no serious steps taken than it might even lose its existence.

Photography by: Afzal Abbas
This Article was published in Daily Waqt Sunday Magazine