This weekend I got a chance to visit a historical place in Lahore. Its actually a set of places that once used to be the center of Lahore City. Walled city of Lahore as any other old city is occupied by the current citizens of Lahore, while an internal walled palace, known as Shahi Qila (Royal Fort) is under the control of Goverenment of Pakistan, department of heritage ( Mehekma-e-asaar-e-qadeema).
In addition to Royal Fort, there is Ranjit Singh’s Musolium, Badshahi Mosque, Huzuri Bagh and Mazar of Allama iqbal. Its a very good combo to visit in one go.
Lahore fort, that is royal fort, was actually the residence of the kings and the initial structure was biult in the days of Akbar (1556-1605). Read more about the fort here, as this is not a history class 🙂
Fort not being cared
I’m going to talk about something else than the history. One obvious thing that I noticed there was, that regardless of being a World Heritage Site declared by Unesco, Lahore fort is in a very bad shape. It is obvious from the circumstances that a lot of funds were granted and have been plundered or lost somewhere and the fort is still in a very bad shape.
This photo shows Akbari Gate to the fort. The gate was supposed to be restored, does it look restored at all? The only funds they spent on it were to put this board out there which says the work should be done in 2005-2006. Its 2008 and nothing has been done. Interesting, isn’t it?
That’s not all. Please read on.
Now I upload a map, rather satellite image of the place. The fort itself is a combo of few things, most popular are Deewan-e-Aam ( the common court), Deewan-e-khas (well, more private area for the kings), Sheesh mahal, (made of more mirrored walls), Moti mosque and a few doors. (Please click to read the titles)
The thing that shocked me most was a set of offices that belong to officials that are built right inside the fort. That is something I cant understand. Moreover, on North-east corner, there’s an un-noticed area where usually visitors dont go at all. That looks like a private set of residences where there are a few houses, people are coming and going on bikes and cars, children are playing and I could see a goat grazing etc. Well, even if they are workers or watchmen or anyone, I dont think we should allow any offices or any residences inside such an important historical place. This could lead to a race and some day you’ll find property dealers selling deewan-e-aam and deewan-e-khas.
See videos below that show the houses, residents, and a car coming out of the area.
View from Deewan-e-Aam
And this photo shows, how restoration team has saved this building from falling apart and have left the equipment to support the building for life
No doubt the fort and the leftover buildings are a marvel even today and the walls, ceilings and the whole structure was built by a very highly skilled set of workers. I could find only 3 or 4 paintings in the whole fort. Courtesy our citizens and brothers visiting the site. For example, one of th painting, I dont know how old it dates and how significant it is, but somebody has added his own piece of art to complete it. How shameful.
Coming back to officials, following are the tickets we bought when entering the fort. Red ticket for elders, and blue for the children. How much attention has been paid to the ticket making, you can see in the blue ticket.
It says “Bachon kay liye (means for children)” while in english it still says Aduls Rs. 5. I found it funny, so thought of sharing with you guys.
Regardless of above inconsistencies and unexpected things, it was an amazing trip. You can find all the photos I took on my picasa album here.
Then we moved out of the fort and into the mosque. Yeah, there is huzuri bagh in the middle but public is not allowed to enter the garden anyways. We did say Salam and Fatiha for Shair-e-Mashriq as he rests just outside the mosque.
It was good to see that the mosque is being well maintained regardless of its huge size. Alhamdulillah, Muslims keep the mosques alive, regardless of how old they are. The main biulding is small as compared to the open area and overall area of the mosque, but its still huge. The prayer area, open area, area for wuzu and everything looked clean and maintained.
Then there’s a museum that has a lot of items that are very significant from islamic point of view. You can find belongings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Hazrat Ali (raziallah taala anhu) and Hazrat Imaam Hussain (raziallah taala anhu) and several other important personalities. I, being a true lover of Prophet (peace be upon him) like any other muslim, had a really spiritually enexpressably emotional time looking at the things. Only thing I worry about though, is the authenticity of the belongings if they really belong to those important people or not.
Entering the museum also required a ticket that everyone happily purchased it. Though again, the ticket says Rs.2 while they asked for Rs. 5. Same goes for the shoe-keeper who charged Rs. 20 regardless the boards said its Rs. 5.
In short, it was a really informative and entertaining trip. I know this post is getting very long, but the trip was a whole day long as well, so its worth it I believe.
Please do leave your comments on photos, content and videos above. Moreover, dont forget to see the photo album with all the photos from the trip.