AN UNKNOWN MARKET PLACE IN LAHORE, KATRA ABDUL GHAFUR, IN SIKH TIMES; INSCRIPTION SAYS BUILT BY MIAN RAHEEM BAKSH MIMAR IN 1820 A D, (1236 AH).
Market places and bazaars are common in Islamic civilization, and extensively designed such places exist in Iran, Afghanistan, as well as Hindustan. Some of them so unique that they merit attention and discussion even today. The bazaar in Herat is one example of same, as well as Bazaar Jahan Ara, known as Chandini Chowk in Delhi. The bazaar of Dara Shikoh in Lahore was another example. What standard Katra Abdul Ghafoor had is unknown. Suffice that great attention has been paid in designing its inscription in clay work. The period 1820 A D is a time of rising power of Maharajah Ranjit Singh in Lahore. There was a Katra in possession of Mian Kareem Baksh, son of Mian Raheem Baksh, near Moti Bazaar in Lahore. but at that time the many rooms in it were given on rent to the Christian cleaner community of Lahore. I have seen the place myself a few decades back.
So, we do not know anything about the Katra, nor do we know anything about Abdul Ghafur. We only know about Mian Raheem Baksh. But things do turn up with time. Abdul Ghafur must be of some wealth to have a market place designed for him in Lahore that early in Sikh times.
THE CONTROVERSY OF A MUGHAL BRIDGE AT BARA – MUGHAL INSCRIPTION PESHAWAR MUSEUM 1039 AH.
In 1908 archaeologist discovered an inscription on the facade of a mosque in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Peshawar. The Pesh Imam told the scholar that it was an inscription his grandfather discovered on the edge of the Bara river, of a bridge which had fallen with time. It was removed to the museum and it is there still now. Very simply the inscription points to a bridge over the Bara river, ordered to be built by Mulla Abdul Latif for Governor Lashkar Khan and built by the architect engineer Lutufullah Ahmad Muhandis Lahori in the year 1039 AH. It was neglected as important news, till it caught the attention of scholars.
It was taken for granted that it belonged to the Mughal bridge on the river Bara, three miles from Peshawar. And written as such by some scholars. Then in 2002 scholar Ibrahim Shah came up with the idea that it was not the existing bridge on the river Bara, but a fallen bridge near to that place, on Zindai stream. He spoke of the presence of four bridges at same vicinity, but at least two fulfilled the requirements of the description of the statement. The other two due to time element were not possible as options. The scholar made the premise on his observations. But in truth, there is no proof as to which bridge is there as provenance for the inscription. It could be either of both. Dr Abdullah Chaghatai, Dr Abdur Rahman and others, took it as the existing bridge. Ibraheem Shah volunteered his views. Nobody else has taken the issue.
We sent messengers to check the place and take photographs. There is a defaced inscription on the existing bridge, and it is famous as the Sethi bridge on the Zindai stream, on the discarded flow of river Bara. Although broken at places, it is still intact, and perhaps restored at some period of time. Large trees accompany the bridge and there are hermits involved in living there. The fallen bridge is now a washing place for dhobis of the area. A regular working area, with cow dung (gobar) plastered on the broken parts which are normally used for cooking in the rural areas. A village using the broken parts for average use. Which is which?
We will try to do more research eventually. A detailed photograph of the inscription on the existing bridge could point out things.But it is the architectural reconstruction at least in drafting which can point out the period of Mughal construction. There are real differences in the Akbari construction and Shahjahani models. Even bricks are different. The existing bridge is petite in its own way, with a singular design element, not elsewhere. The fallen bridge is massive in its construction and to me speak of the might of Emperor Akbar himself. Ustad Ahmad Mimar Lahori is reputed to be crossing the river on Attock on regular basis, as there is a rawadari mention in Insha Harkiran of the same. It may be possible that the fallen bridge was constructed by Ustad Ahmad Lahori, and when river changed its course, it fell down. And here was a need for a new bridge, and Mulla Abdul Latif invited the son of Ustad Ahmad Mimar to construct a new bridge on the same river. Otherwise there seems to be no need for a new bridge when one was already existing there. When the older bridge fell, a new one was constructed. An additional point is that in 1039 AH, Lutufullah was a very young man, and a call to him to go to Bara for the construction, was way out in perspective. Unless there was a link to the older bridge of this young engineer. Extensive research can or may throw a light. But would anyone bother? It is indeed a difficult place to access easily. And till then the options are open to the reality of same.
THE ENIGMA OF THE ATTOCK MAQBARA IN ATTOCK KHURD – IS IT MAUSOLEUM OF FAVOURITE CONCUBINE BIBI MARIAM, WIFE OF EMPEROR AKBAR AND MOTHER OF PRINCE DANIYAL.
In the autobiography of Emperor Jahangeer, the Emperor writes:“After this he had a son by Beeby Mereiom who was placed under the care of Rajah Baharmul.” That is Shahzada Danial! The Prince died around the age of thirty only, because of his over indulgence in alcohol. His mother Bibi Mariam died in 1596. Shireen Moosvi thinks of the royal concubine as Daulat Shad. Both were royal concubines. But Bibi Mariam was related to the wife of Raja Baharmul, and the reason Daniyal was given into her care.
There are a number of ways in which we can study it:
Architectural analysis: The area has been touched by many civilizations. But prominent amongst the same are the Mughals, and in that respect Emperor Akbar, who built the Attock Fort in 1593. Bibi Mariam died in 1596. The timing matches our analysis.
Historical analysis: The architecture of this strange out of the way monument is unique in many ways. It is based on a square plinth, compared to octagonal base on most Mughal monuments. It has concept of some storeys in its construction, and there is a balcony at the top. Why? Obviously that the monument was under caretakers (the many graves around the monument prove same) and this place was open to Afghan aggression. So, the Mughals had to keep the construction of same like a check post or small fort able to defend itself. It was probably made in a hurry, for possibly in a visit by Emperor Akbar, the concubine died a natural death. And no chance of transporting her body back to her usual domain. The dome is totally different from the usual domes. It is a double dome but the upper part is not like a dome. The reason was timing, available expertise, and the lack of top-of-the-line architects, like Qasim Khan.
Identity analysis: It is famous as Maqbara Kanjri, or monument of the prostitute. In no way a prostitute could make Akbar have this built for her. And not all concubines. Only a Royal concubine is possible. And who befits most, but the mother of Prince Daniyal. The interesting part is that this is the same concubine, which bastard William Finch, narrates as the beloved of Akbar’s son Jahangeer, or in other words Anarkalli. That Anarkalli, Akbar’s reputed to have buried alive, and the actual Anarkalli (according to Finch), Akbar had a Mughal monument built on her remains. What hypocrisy of the bigoted Britishers here? Turning street gossip into historical narrations. It is worth remembering to take western assertions with a pinch of salt.
Can there be any conclusions? To such narrations, one can never come to fool proof endings. Match empty speculations with logic is the only way. The end nobody knows. Pages of history always hide things in time. This we can understand the place was fortified with time as suggested by closed vents to the mausoleum. And the work of archaeological department to hide their dirt under wall of bricks.
THE ENIGMA OF THE GRAVE OF USTAD KAMALUDDIN BEHZAD
TABRIZ OR HERAT:- DEFINITE PROOFS OF RESEARCH IN HERAT.
There is no doubt that Kamaluddin Behzad remains the iconic greatest Master of Islamic painting. Not many but still a number of books have been written on him. But one cannot say that the ultimate book is there. Locally scholars like Dr Abdullah Chaghatai, Abdur Rahman Chughtai and Razia Feroze have written on him with acute analysis on their part, for both were artists. The only published book is by Dr Abdullah Chaghatai. Chughtais’ book is there in manuscript form, in unedited form. Razia Feroze’s thesis is there, ready for print, but never printed because of her death. Western and Iranian scholars have done their debts in research.
Certain aspects are still open. For instance, we are told that Behzad died in Tabriz, and was buried there. Others have written that he died in Herat and was buried there. Usually, it is agreed that he died in 942 A H (1535 AD). Even in old writings this conflict is there. Then in the magazine “Kabul” Sardar Goya Ittemadi talked about his burial in Herat. Then Munshi Qazi Ahmad uddin Munir asserted same in his book. A photograph of the grave was published in Afghan journals. In 1976 Dr James Dickie (Dr Yaqub Zaki) visited Herat in search for the grave and found it on his own. But others seem to have evaded this rediscovery for reasons unknown. Dr Abdullah Chaghatai was given this information and photographs but did not use it fully for reasons of his own. It is our pleasure to give the published pictures of the grave. Behzad’s soul can rest in peace now!
THE LAHORE FORT BEFORE THE FORT BUILT BY EMPEROR AKBAR – SOME RANDOM DESCRIPTIONS, BUT WITH HARDLY ANY IMAGES
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.
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?
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.
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:
Mah Afroze Chughtai. Doing her PHD from Virginia, USA.
Jahan Ara Chughtai. Doing her MSc in Psychology from New York, USA.
Zebun nisa Chughtai. Doing her Degree in Conservation from Europe.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
NIECE OF JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU AND COUSIN OF INDIRA GANDHI – MRS JANAKI KUMARI ZUTSHKI, LIVED AND DIED IN LAHORE IN 1997.
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
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!