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