IN PURSUIT OF THE MOTI DARWAZA OF LAHORE
THE GATES OF LAHORE CITY IN CHANGING TIMES
Built, demolished, renamed, lost in history.
The enigma of Gates of Lahore is well known but there are many things still in dark about them. The issue is that the researchers are just empty researchers, never getting int the heart of the matter, with no access to research material, nor inclination to probe deep into matters. The war of independence of 1857 shocked the English here, as something which they had never expected from the so called rabble here. They had fed their Mir Jaffers well and knew that they would never react to anything.
It was pure luck that a telegram reached Lahore well in time and the Army at Lahore was de-weaponized in time. But that was not enough. There was a need to make the impregnable Lahore of once upon a time, toothless in any future uprising. We have discussed the various steps taken, but there we are talking of the Wall of Lahore, the moat and the Gates of Lahore. Almost all were ruthlessly demolished, and many renamed. One missing factor is of Mochi Gate, Lahore. Researchers have pointed out that historically this name is not correct. Some have talked of the Gate being either MORCHI (army embankment with arms and ammunition place), or MOTI (named after the prostitute Moti, sister of Mai Moran, wife of Ranjit Singh). Others have even questioned the existence of a major gate near the large Akbari Darwaza (a separate narration) itself. We have seen manuscripts of the 19th century, which mention the Gate as MOTI DARWAZA and we reproduce a page from a Dalail ul Khairat written by Raheem Baksh khattat at Moti Darwaza in 1846 AD, that is officially Sikh times although the British were here by that time. There is even an earlier Manuscript, about 1832 AD, which states the name as Moti Darwaza, and the Mohalla as Banduk saz.
W. Reveley made the only known image of MOTI DARWAZA and published same in London in 1888. It looks very odd from the rest of the Gates in the city. But as it goes towards the Chowk Moti nearby, it could be a construction of Sikh times, perhaps even done on a private scale by Mai Moti, a rich prostitute of Lahore. That is for research. Our job is to open new venues oi research. Why the name was changed to Moti Dartwaza? Obviously MORCHI or MORCHA was not a feasible name for the British to sponsor on into newer times. An era had ended and era of new slavery had begun. That is life anywhere and in Lahore, a land which faced onslaught all the time, nothing different. Why MOCHI? The British loved to demean the walled city. We saw that prejudice even within our life time. Mochi was to debase the dignity of the vast nobility of Lahore living inside this part of the city. I remember a friend of mine was refused admission in St Anthonys for he lived in Mochi Darwaza. He had to change his address to get into school at that time. A real thought for honourable life!