STEREOTYPES AND CLICHES MARK REFERENCES ABOUT LAHORE – YES, TWISTING THE CITY’S HISTORY IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: – NO SOURCE BEING LEFT FOR TRUTH BY SPREADING MISTRUTHS.
Foreign money flows in our historical narratives and it flow distorts all that is known about this city. It is our city. Our family has lived in it for more than four centuries, perhaps even more. Flow of Sikh money makes it a Sikh city, flow of Hindu money makes it a Hindu city, and flow of Western money, responsible for confusion all around. All the vendor things sold in the city is touted as unusual, a request should be made to those who project same to try same on their own. Probably full of bacteria and viruses, all those silly things can cause many loose stomachs. In addition, blood pressure as well as gastritis all around. Painting old wooden structures with layers of cheap paint, and hanging plants in lanes has nothing to do with the history of Lahore. May we even know the history of the persons to whom the lanes are credited with, nobody really knows. We do not want to be specific but a number of questions do come in mind.
Tania Qureshi writes:
Gali of Surjan Singh and the Gali Gubarchian, located in Lahore Pakistan, are interlinked and the complex is known as Koocha Charakh Garan. These are typical of the remaining historical fabric of the walled city. Gali of Surjan Singh and Gali Gubarchian have almost 23 buildings which represent the transformations in technology and architectural expressions that were affecting Lahore during the colonial period.
It is sweet and honest of Tania Qureshi that she asserts the area as of colonial period. Does it clearly show something? Not a single house of historical or aesthetic importance. A period of decadence. And hardly anyone knows the Hakeem Surjan Singh? Not even his house is there. Kanaya Lall the historian of Lahore mentions a number of Hakeems of the city, both Hindu and Muslims, but Surjan Singh does not appear in his historical account. Hype is for what? Lack luster plain houses, and unknown hakeem? I recall the chowk near the Pani wala talab, and Rang Mahal, is known as Chowk of Surjan Singh. I do not know why? But I was born in a house in the chowk of Surjan Singh and I know that well. There were beautiful houses nearby with exquisite wood carving (Swans and peacocks), as having belonged to famous prostitutes of Mughal period. Kanjri Mor-wali was not Mai Moran of Ranjit Singh’s fame, famous for her peacock dance. My negotiation did not work out and the exquisite wood carving was used as fire-wood.
Security of the city over times. A number of questions come to mind about the security apparatus of the city. The first misadventure happened around 1049 AH, when under threat, the Hindu Rajas, came together and invaded Lahore. We have detailed it in one of our research books. Various areas of Lahore faced massacre under the onslaught of the Hindu armies. Only few signs are left. One is the Ganj Shaheedain area near Kocha Chabuk Sawaran. Then there is the Mongol invasion in which Hassan Balki died defending Lahore. He is buried in Kashmeeri Bazaar. Said Mitha and his father escaped the wrath of the Mongols in Lahore. So much ruin that in era of Mubarak Shahi, there was not even one resident in Lahore. We hear of various tussles in Sultanate era, as well as Mughal period. The invasion of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali had the greatest effect, and the security of Lahore was at stake. But Lahoris were quick in adjustment. They always negotiated the safety of the city by offering endowments. The anarchy brought by the three Sikh rulers who captured Lahore and played havoc with people. Gujar Singh (son Sahib Singh), Lehna Singh (later son Chet Singh) and Sobha Singh were the curse on Lahore. Tired of their misadventures, a group of Lahore citizens invited the dacoit of Gujranwala, Ranjit Singh to get control over Lahore. As promised the Lawari gate was opened at night for his entrance of army stationed at the Baradari of Wazeer Khan. The second attempt succeeded in capture of Lahore, but not the Lahore Fort. Cannons were mounted on the top of the minarets of Badshahi masjid by removing the cupolas and cannon fire inside Lahore fort. Finally, the three Sikhs Sardars gave up and ran away, never to appear again. Although their remanent like Qilla Gujar Singh is still there. This was a brief survey and what was the security apparatus of the times.
People wonder why the lanes are so narrow in Lahore. Simply so that no group of armed riders could get inside the city and ruin the life of the people. A second precaution was that the roofs of the houses were joined together so that if residents got surrounded in one house, they could jump to other houses and escape the capture of the invaders. And most of all hidden rooms at water level in the water wells of the house, where women and children were lodged, with supply of basic flour and water to last the onslaught as well as daggers, not to fight the enemy but to kill themselves if caught for fear of being tortured and raped by hostile group of people. How many can explain this to you? A well in most houses was the security need of those times.
Lahore egalitarianism can be proven by the fact that upper class or lower-class people all lived in same area. The rich and powerful had no qualms over having poor people in their area. Racial distinction was brought in by the British when on documentations people were forced to write their castes instead of professions. Different areas were made for different classes of people. This continues to this day everywhere.
The story behind all stories is fund raising and use of funds. And the pay master is always right. He funds to get his version of truth across the board. Simple equation. May we say more?
British adjust the security of Lahore. First most of the gates were demolished in Lahore. Lanes were carved and broadened out, so that horses as well as elephants could easily enter Lahore. The Kotwali inside the city was demolished and same shifted outside in form of a new building, with newer kotwals for the city. The history of these British period Kotwals is basically boot licking and nothing more. And yet Muslim officers were preferred over other ones. There was a famous Kotwal of Lahore when Ranjit Singh entered Lahore, and he used to roam the street, with an ever-famous actual donkey as an escort. Our mission is to present the truth as we know it. It should not surprise people addicted to lobbies spready disinformation about Lahore.
P.S. A katra of famous Hakeem Buzurg Shah near the Wazeer Khan mosque would have been an ideal place to restore, with even the mausoleum of Hakeem Inayat Shah (writer of books) there. A family which consolidated the return of the Badshahi mosque Lahore to the citizens of Lahore.