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 

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