THE LAHORE FORT BEFORE THE FORT BUILT BY EMPEROR AKBAR – SOME RANDOM DESCRIPTIONS, BUT WITH HARDLY ANY IMAGES

THE LAHORE FORT BEFORE THE FORT BUILT BY EMPEROR AKBAR – SOME RANDOM DESCRIPTIONS, BUT WITH HARDLY ANY IMAGES

Humayoun in Lahore 1555

A city as important as Lahore, needed for its defense a solid fort. We hear of an inner fort, probably a mud fort, in and around Chuna Mandi. The present gates belong to the Mughal period and later, so that they cannot define Lahore well. Certainly, it was a walled city, and with its surroundings, we can only imagine today. We do hear of a fort in the Sultanate period, and if we imagine the Mazar of Qutb uddin Aibak on one hand, and the area of Chah Miran (Miran de khoi) on the other. Obviously, the Old River Ravi (Buddah Darya) is another clue to the outskirts of Lahore. Kashmeeri Bazaar is another clue, with the Mazar of the warrior saint still there. He was the one who was killed in battle with the Mongols. Then there is the Mazar Shaheedan of the Ghaznavi period, near Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran. And then we know that Masjid Wazeer Khan was built on the site of an ancient mazar (still there underground). The grave of the Nau-guzza in Lahore is another clue. And then there is the area Mahmood Booti which is taken as a dam built on the river by Mahmood Ghaznavi. The ancient Miani qabarastan is another clue to same. The Sultanate mosque in the Serai of Jahangeer’s mausoleum points to ancient times. Diggings in Lahore do confirm existence of ancient mud walls, as well as ancient tunnels and structures.

View of city 1605

The most ancient Mughal structure in Lahore, still existing, is considered the Baradari of Prince Kamran Mirza, who also occupied Lahore, and even took out a coin in his name as the Emperor of Hindustan. In the same river Ravi are seen at times ancient Mughal structures fallen into the river in oblivion. A basic design principle can be seen. Emperor Babur had burnt the main shopping center in Lahore twice. No mention of any Fort. The miniatures done during the tenure of Akbar, shows him sitting in a tent or under an awning. No pictures of the mud fort are available. This is fort with central point of Chuna Mandi in Lahore. But coins of Ghaznavid period were found in Lahore Fort, including a very famous gold one. But then who knows what the structure was then?

Tent and Awning 1590

Some of the images we were able to locate show the Fort in different light. Got instance the visit on 24th February 1555 of Humayun to Lahore, shows a very different Fort, with unclear entrance gate. The drowning of riders, when Akbar got through shows somewhat the same scene. We do know that Lahore was a ghost town without any inhabitants in 1420-21 AD, and the Sayyid brothers gave the go ahead to repopulate Lahore. We hear before that Sarang Khan defeated Sheikha Khokhar, around 1394 AD, and the next day conquered the Fortress of Lahore, and put his brother Kandhu, with the title of Adil Khan, as the Chief of Lahore. In 1420-21 Royal attention was paid to the deserted city of Lahore, and the restoration of the city was undertaken. Engaged in repairing the Fort and other buildings. Malik Hassan was put in charge of Lahore, and fought against Jasarath Sheikha and the fight is referred to be in the Lahore Mud Fort. So only a Mud Fort existed in Lahore at that time. Boundaries unknown but must be outside the flow of the river Ravi. The Mahmood Booti bund is one line, the Aurangzebi bund is another. In any case more and more will be discovered with time. Our view will go on enlarging with time.

Lahore Fort Akbar crossing Ravi

THE FUTURE OF CHUGHTAI MUSEUM IN ABLE HANDS – FOUR CUSTODIANS PAR EXCELLENCE TRAINED IN FULL

THE FUTURE OF CHUGHTAI MUSEUM IN ABLE HANDS
FOUR CUSTODIANS PAR EXCELLENCE TRAINED IN FULL

Many people ask me about the future of Chughtai Museum. On 17th January, 1975, the Chughtai Museum project was in doldrums. Nothing was certain as to what will happen then. Forty-six years later it is much more than it was in 1975. These four girls have seen the mess we are put in by lobbies allergic to us. Why allergic to us? For we are not obsessed with nincompoop Mullahs nor are we impressed with phoney Seculars. Both two sides of the same coin hating progress of the Islamic humane spirit. We are all in the Iqballian Spirit, and our heroes start with our beloved Quaid e Azam. And the splendid leadership that followed him. Today we see lack of leadership from above. The whole world is in a mess with third class leadership, and the countries we eulogized as ideals are no more that. After Pakistan we see emergence of Turkey and Malaysia on the same lines. The first steps towards an Islamic civilization.

For an Islamic civilization we needed a geographical location and our Quaid e Azam gave it to us. Similarly, for development of our national aesthetics we needed a place to work on same. And the idea of Chughtai Museum was formed by Abdur Rahman Chughtai. An artist who gave us designs and insignias in that light, to centers like Alhamra Lahore as well as the various Arts Councils of Pakistan; the Art departments like the University of the Punjab, and the vision generated by works presented to foreign Heads of State, visiting Pakistan, or by Pakistani Heads visiting outside world. But this kind of information is abundant on our blog and can be seen and read all the time.
These four girls are determined by birth and by upbringing, about the importance of the LEGACY OF CHUGHTAI ART, and will do whatever in their capacity to keep the flag of aesthetics flying over Pakistan. The four girls are the Custodians of Chughtai Museum:

  1. Mah Afroze Chughtai. Doing her PHD from Virginia, USA. 
  2. Jahan Ara Chughtai. Doing her MSc in Psychology from New York, USA.
  3. Zebun nisa Chughtai. Doing her Degree in Conservation from Europe.
  4. Arjumand Bano Chughtai. Mastering the Art of the language and the Internet.

And special thanks to Aliya Zia Chughtai, for rearing up the four girls in the Pakistani spirit, despite all the difficulties involved in the process. Sooner or later, it is realized that all the talk of modernism in the world is just talk and nothing else. That Right and Wrong springs from the Dictates of Allah as presented in the Quran, and through the process of Ijtihad, everything can be updated according to the requirements of the time. Our inspirations of the Quran come from elucidations of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Dr Allama Iqbal, Ghulam Ahmed Parvez, Muhammed Asad, Dr Syed Abdul Wadud, and others in the same spirit. Pakistani Spirit will last, yes Pakistan Forever!

DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS, MORBID OBSESSION WITH PHONES, INTERNET – YES, SUBLIMINAL CUTS, BRAIN MANIPULATIONS, UNDERMINING ALL LIFE: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS, MORBID OBSESSION WITH PHONES, INTERNET; YES, SUBLIMINAL CUTS, BRAIN MANIPULATIONS, UNDERMINING ALL LIFE: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Angel fight with Devil

We hear that these are the time of hybrid wars. Okay, understood! But what agenda these hybrid wars are on?  Territorial invasions. Ideological bashings. You name it, it must be there. But the actuality of hybrid war is climactic fight of Truth versus Falsehood, or simply engendering Satanic rule over not only Planet Earth, but the cosmos itself. Can there be a concept of Evil Genius? Does intellectualism obliterate sense of right and wrong. Allah tells us to think and ponder but also tells us the code of values deciding right and wrong. Animal kingdom has this concept built in them; human beings have this charter outside in form of the message of the Quran itself. The key to life is COMPASSION. The final revelation! Who will win?

Clap the new year

Hundred percent Truth will prevail and will set us free. So, worry not. Indeed, think of it as another year, and indeed a Happy year. If it is not a happy year, through endeavour itself, we will make it a happy year. Happy New Year to all!

ON RAVI ROAD A CREMATION PLACE IN LAHORE FOR HINDU LADIES – WAS MS AMRITA SHER GIL CREMATED HERE? RESEARCH REQUIRED!

ON RAVI ROAD A CREMATION PLACE IN LAHORE FOR HINDU LADIES – WAS MS AMRITA SHER GIL CREMATED HERE? RESEARCH REQUIRED!

Show of Amrita Sher Gil

The ladies of the area recall the acute burning smell of human flesh in the area. It was a place made in 1901, for the cremation of Hindu ladies of Lahore. Opposite is the European Cemetery of Lahore, made after 1849, and having graves even today dating to 1852. On the other side in Minto Park, was the Towers of Silence of the Parsees in Lahore. The Zoroastrians graveyard. Then it was shifted to Gulberg, Lahore. Once upon a time the river Ravi ran right there and then it became stagnant, and was named as Buddha Darya. In the vicinity many years back a boat was discovered. On this bank was the area (takia) of the Patrangahs the dyers of clothes in Lahore. This was their work place on the banks of river Ravi. Their Mohalla was inside Bhatti Gate, Lahore. Once upon a time Emperor Akbar’s ships traversed the river Ravi. It was intact some years back, although inhabited by immigrants from India. A chabara of red stone in the front. There was an inscription on the main gateway. It specified its history as Radha Kund. The inscription is interesting reading.

Radha Kund

It says that this cremation site was erected by Mohan Lal and Lal Chand, sons of late Rai Munshi Gulab Singh, in memory of their beloved mother Shri Mati Radha Devi, in the year 1901.  Rai Munshi Gulab Singh was a famous publisher of Lahore, who published many books in different languages. In fact, there is even a medal named after him in the University of the Punjab, given even today. In a city with a recorded history of more than 1000 years, this is plainly a modern era. But can one imagine the thousands of Hindu ladies who were cremated here. For us there is a clear possibility that Amrita Sher Gil was also cremated here. After all this is Ravi road, and these are the banks of old river Ravi, and it was the main cremation place of Hindu ladies of Lahore. In fact, outside the city walls, one still comes across pots, filed with the ashes of the Hindus of Lahore. Amrita died on Saturday, 6th December, 1941, at 1.30 am. That means 12 pm had passed, and the new day had begun.

Amrita Sher Gil

That very day there was an appointment Amrita had made with M.A. Rahman Chughtai, to see him in his studios. Chughtai Sahib waiting for her to appear, heard the news of her death. His condolences were published many places, basically in short it was:

         “I did not believe that she had died. And I still do not believe it. She is living and will ever live.”

M.A. Rahman Chughtai was introduced to Amrita by her father Umrao Singh Sher-Gil. Umrao Singh was a valued and respected friend of the artist. In the meeting Dr Allama Iqbal was also there and he too, was introduced to Amrita. The father, Umrao Singh expressed high hopes for her. The father was a specialist on Omar Khayyam as well as on Sufi poetry and Chughtai had many discussions with him. When Amrita Sher-Gil came to settle in Lahore, and wanted to hold an exhibition here, people co-operated with her. And the show was held after her death. The death was on 6th December, the exhibition was held on 21st December, 1941. A rare exhibition show in Lahore. It is a strange anomaly that her dead body must have passed right in front of the house of the artist. In fact, a journey she could not make while alive, but her dead body traversed the same route. Indeed, a spiritual journey.

Amrita and Nehru

NIECE OF JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU AND COUSIN OF INDIRA GANDHI – MRS JANAKI KUMARI ZUTSHKI, LIVED AND DIED IN LAHORE IN 1997.

NIECE OF JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU AND COUSIN OF INDIRA GANDHI – MRS JANAKI KUMARI ZUTSHKI, LIVED AND DIED IN LAHORE IN 1997.

The father Ladli Prasad Zutshi

My uncle used to speak of the Zutshki sisters, and their glamorous stay in Lahore, as well as attachment to artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai. But I had no pictorial image of them. Then I came across a scrap book of an Air Commodore, who used to be a student of Government College, Lahore, and in 2015, I wrote two blogs on them. Obviously, knowledge of past is revealed by chance or through memories of old citizens.  I will give a link to the first blog at the end of this blog itself. But here we traverse new material.
Goulding road in Lahore, is a small road, looking like a lane itself. It is probably named after Colonel H.R. Goulding, who wrote a book on Lahore itself. At one end is the religious center of the Bhai faith, of which few hundred Bhais actually live in Lahore even today. Of Iranian origin, they worship their prophet Bahaullah of Persia. People used to visit our museum from Goulding road itself, and some of them, even gave me a booklet of the Bhai faith, as I recall today. The house of ICS officer, Dr Jalil Asghar was in this lane, and he fell in love with Janaki Kumari and she fell in love with him. The other Zutshki sisters left Lahore long ago, and got married in India. However, Janaki Kumari married a Muslim boy and moved to Pakistan in 1952. Some say it was a happy married life based on love, others say there was friction between the two people. Families of both were unhappy with the choices made by their children. But Jalil Asghar left his property in the name of his wife, as they had no children. After the death of Jalil Asghar, the lady was in financial trouble and had to sell her house. But she was allowed to retain two rooms in the house without any charges. Last reports tell us that there were two old ladies in those rooms, Janaki and her trusted maid. It is also reported that the iconic banker Agha Hassan Abidi supported the lady financially. Not much is known, but there are at least two interviews of the lady published in press. One in the 1980s in Urdu newspaper, Pakistan. In the other, she herself recalls:

In an interview a few months before her death, a bed ridden Janaki recalled: “My grandmother and Moti Lal Nehru were siblings. Indira was my cousin. I lost touch with her after my marriage. Her behaviour was different then the rest of the family. She genuinely welcomed me and was extremely happy to see me when I went to attend her son’s wedding.”

The lady was involved in a lot of social work, and her services were recognized by those in power. President Ayub Khan decorated her with an award of Sitara-e- Khidmat. Today leaders do not have even time to listen to the laments of the past, when they cannot handle laments of today.
http://blog.chughtaimuseum.com/?p=1965

QUAID E AZAM’S COMMITMENT TO THE PALESTINE CAUSE – BATTALION ARMY, 250,000 GUNS and DIPLOMATIC BACK-UP

QUAID E AZAM’S COMMITMENT TO THE PALESTINE CAUSE – BATTALION ARMY, 250,000 GUNS and DIPLOMATIC BACK-UP

Quaid e Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah

A veteran journalist Tariq Ismael Sagar (full respects to him) in an internet broadcast, mentioned the role of Quaid e Azam in helping the Palestine cause. Obviously, it required research, and our dear lady, Ms. Saleena Karim offered to do so. That will take time. Till then the news is like this.

E. Epstein a leading Israeli personality and diplomat in Russia corresponded with another diplomat, Editor of the Hindustan Times, namely K.M. Panikkav, in 1948, and it is also in the personal diaries of the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. It is suggested that these documents are also in the Government of Pakistan records but perhaps suppressed by those in power. The facts mentioned are the offer of a Battalion of Army to the Palestinians, guns 250,000 bought from Czechoslovakia, and three fighter planes to Egypt. Help was not mere words. It was an actual help. Why do we not hear more about it? Is the present set of leaders afraid of the past, and the solid commitment of our initial leaders to the Islamic cause and Identity? If Israel can document same, why cannot we? Till then, feel proud of those who made Pakistan. Is it not time to make Pakistan, Pakistan again!  And get rid of these moronic, self-serving politicians, who have made mockery of our national life. Pakistan Forever!

David Ben Gurion

UNKNOWN DASTUR KAIKOBAD MAHYAR AN INHERITED PARSEE PRIEST – SO PRESENT AT COURTS OF AKBAR, JAHANGEER AND PRINCE KHURRAM.

UNKNOWN DASTUR KAIKOBAD MAHYAR AN INHERITED PARSEE PRIEST – SO PRESENT AT COURTS OF AKBAR, JAHANGEER AND PRINCE KHURRAM.

Emperor Jahangeer

Some things are saved by chance. We hear of Zoroastrians contact with Mughal Court but there is little that is specific. By chance two poems in verse, one a petition to Emperor Jahangeer, and the other in praise of Prince Khurram, later Shah Jahan, survived the ages. Mostly in Parsee private records, the Persian texts were translated into English, and published as a book,  by another Parsee gentleman, namely Dr Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, in 1930.

Parsee Dastur Kaikobad Mahyar

It looks that Dastur Kaikobad owed money to the Mughal court and was imprisoned. Because of his ailing health, he wrote verses one as a petition, and the other as a laudatory poem. This is around 1617 AD. It is a soul wrenching appeal to save his nephew, who went into prison in his alternative imprisonment. Wrapped in elegant language, the appeal made sense. And it seems that Dastur Kaikobad was released by the Emperor. For he was a free man, when he died a year or two afterwards. It is a rare mention from a rare book itself, and it is to put this on record for research purposes. The original is in the archives of the museum.

The Parsees are sweet people and as proclaimed by the first Parsee in this region, that they would be like sugar in a cup of milk. They will not take space but they will add sweetness to the region. And they did. We have known many Parsees in our life, and we dedicate this extract to Lady Parveen Yara, who was a senior, at our school in Lahore.

So much is lost in history and often cannot be regained. But at times some things survive and with help of learned scholars come to light. And then are lost again. Such is the personality of a Parsee priest, namely Dastur Kaikobad Mahyar, who was present at the courts of Emperor Akbar and Emperor Jahangeer. Not much is known about him but part of his writing around 1617 is preserved in some rare manuscripts and Parsee sources.

THE LITTLE-KNOWN MAUSOLEUM OF AMANAT KHAN SHERAZI – JUST SOUTH OF SERAI AMANAT KHAN TARN TARAN AMRITSAR

THE LITTLE-KNOWN MAUSOLEUM OF AMANAT KHAN SHERAZI – JUST SOUTH OF SERAI AMANAT KHAN TARN TARAN AMRITSAR

Mausoleum Amanat Khan old view

Two brothers who came from Sheraz, both of different faiths. Brother Shukr ullah (title Afzal Khan) was of Shia faith, and Abdul Haque (Title Amanat Khan given by Shah Jahan) of Sunni faith, and both brothers attained the highest position at the court of Emperor Shah Jahan. One became the Prime Minister, and the other the Chief Calligrapher of the Mughal Court, writer of the calligraphy of the Taj Mahal, Agra. One died in Lahore, and the other died near the border on Tarn Taran road, near Amritsar. One buried in Agra in Chini da Roza, and the other next to the Serai he had built for travelers on road from Lahore to Delhi. In fact, both mausoleums are in ruin.

Interesting the village Serai Amanat Khan is inhabited by perhaps 2500 Sikhs and they took the mausoleum seriously as that of a great man, and from their own expenses, repaired it, in their own halfhearted way. The neglect of monuments both in Pakistan and India is phenomenal. No one really cares about heritage. Not even for simple repairs to keep the monuments standing. The friendship of these two brothers with Ustad Ahmad Mimar, architect of the Taj Mahal, is well known. Professional discussions used to take place amongst the three scholars of their fields, particularly Astronomy. The mausoleum of Ustad Ahmad Mimar in Khuldabad, Aurangabad is still missing, after M.S. Vatts Superintendent Archaeology found it and wrote about it. The importance is of political might as long as they live. Then nothing!

THE SECOND MARRIAGE OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI; 11TH MARCH 1944 KISHWAR IQBAL BANO IN AMRITSAR

THE SECOND MARRIAGE OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI;
11TH MARCH 1944 KISHWAR IQBAL BANO IN AMRITSAR

Nikah nama Abdur Rahman Chughtai

Life is a series of coincidences. The maternal (from his mother’s side) cousin of Abdur Rahman Chughtai, mainly Meraj ud din, was very concerned about his beloved cousin and friend. The marriage in 1911 with Wazeer un nisa had borne a son, who died at birth. The lady was never again in a position to conceive. Even she was lonely without children in the house and also imposed on her husband, to seek another marriage for children. Paa Maja (Meraj ud din) along with his wife were trying their best for same. A marriage proposal of a would-be bride in Amritsar, whose name was Kishwar, was under consideration. A party went to the house of this lady Kishwar, whose father used to work in the Railways. The proposal did not work out. At that reception was also present Bhou Din Muhammed, also a Railway Goods Clerk, who liked the presence of Chughtai Sahib. He asked them to pay a visit to their house, for a possible marriage, with his daughter. The visit materialized, and the wife of Bhou Din Muhammed, namely Ayesha Bibi, also liked the prospective groom, and accepted the proposal of marriage. The daughter was Kishwar Iqbal Bano, destined to be the wife of the artist, by a mere coincidence.

The marriage took place on 11th March, 1944. The wedding party came back to Lahore, and Meraj ud din hosted them at his house in Shahi Mohalla.  The first wife insisted that the newly wed wife be brought to the house and arrangements were made for her. From the house of Meraj ud din, Kishwar Iqbal Bano, shifted to the Chabuk Sawaran house in Lahore. Soon after the shifting was done to the newer house. A new era in the life of the artist had begun. But many were unhappy with this development, as they eyed the wealth of the artist for personal gain. And this marriage proved a threat to their ideas. But that is a separate tragic story. This marriage had brought the legacy of M.A. Rahman Chughtai to a new footing. Kishwar Iqbal Bano brought not only happiness in the life of the artist, but enhanced the legacy of the family with a next generation. Blessings of Allah be upon all who made this possible!

THE TRADITION OF CLOTH PUNKAS IN LAHORE – HUMAN LABOUR IN MOVING SAME FOR HOURS

THE TRADITION OF CLOTH PUNKAS IN LAHORE – HUMAN LABOUR IN MOVING SAME FOR HOURS

As time rolls, we completely forget the previous circumstances of life. Today for comfort we have so many facilities.  Air-conditioned rooms for summers, as well as heaters for winters. Obviously change of weather affected all of us. To find a solution for it different systems were tried by people. I remember not long ago, in Lahore city, you could still see cloth fans fixed on ceilings and moved by the ladies as well by the children of the house. It used to amuse us with electric fans in our houses. But going back these were common in the region, but in aristocratic houses. We tried to trace some images, and even found one of an old man in Lahore, who used to pull these fans. Sharing them is real fun in our times, when the amount of labour required to move them was phenomenal. 
Surely such kind of hard work cannot even be imagined in our times. So share the fun of another time in our times of affluence.

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