TRACING WHEREABOUTS OF UNKNOWN DARWAZA OF LAHORE – PERHAPS THE CLUE LIES IN THE ROSHANI DARWAZA OF LAHORE

TRACING WHEREABOUTS OF UNKNOWN DARWAZA OF LAHORE
PERHAPS THE CLUE LIES IN THE ROSHANI DARWAZA OF LAHORE

Porte de Palace in Lahore city

The Professional writers of Lahore are all dead. From about 1850 to 1950 a wave started about writing about the city of Lahore. No doubt a number of books on Lahore were turned out in last few decades, but mostly borrowed stuff from older sources. No original research. It is always our effort to fill in the blanks. Whether there is any appreciation or not, we follow the foot steps of our ancestors. Write what you know. History will take care of itself.

We came across an image in a French publication of MODERN CONSTRUCTION dated 1898, and the publication in gravure includes a gate of Lahore. Obviously we know that most of the gates of Lahore were demolished by the British for their security reasons in the 1860s, against repeat of the War of Independence. The Sikhs destroyed 2000 Muslim buildings in Lahore, and the British cared little less for them. They were unwanted reminders of the past to them. In 1849 Sohan Lal Suri reports that the British Army entered Lahore Fort and took residence in the Hazuri Bagh Baradari. A complete wall of the Lahore Fort was demolished and new buildings and bunkers were constructed for the Army. Rooms in the wall were made as well as bunkers. The Roshnai Darwaza wall was completely dismantled. On the other side the wall was eliminated in total. An interesting read is that the name of Emperor Shah Jahan was on one of the gates of the enclosure. It is now up to us to unravel the missing gate of Lahore.

Roshnai Darwaza today

We have some imagery of some of the gates, but here the picture shows a guard on the gate itself, and foliage in the enclosure. The level of inside space is at par with the gate. Most of the Fort gates are made in a certain way to withstand attack from outside. The Roshnai Gate is not like that for it linked the inner city to the Fort. No attack perceived from there. Whereas it has similarity to our picture, yet it is quite different. The date of publication is 1898. And here we ave an event in 1899 and 1900, which was the visit of Lord Curzon to the city of Lahore. A lamp post was presented for the Badshahi Mosque Lahore by Lord Curzon. Speeches were made. But before he came the space was remodeled, walls came down or were rebuilt as well as attention was paid to the Gates. Because Roshnai Darwaza and our missing Gate have similarities, there are two possibilities here. Either the Roshnai Gate was lowered for security reasons (perhaps not possible for that time), or there was another gate on opposite side and it was dismantled. That is food for researchers to explore in the long run.

Our guess is that this was directly opposite the present Roshnai Darwaza, and because the two structures of Samadh of Ranjit Singh as well as that of Guru Arjun Dev were in way, the visit of Lord Curzon prompted the authorities to dismantle this original Shah Jahani Gate, and made an indirect entrance to this enclosure from the side. Record proves that this indirect entrance was made in 1899 and our theory rests as facts. It is this diverted entrance which is used to this day.

Emperor Shah Jahan outside a fort

The two balconies in the missing Gate are very much like the main gate of Wazeer Khan Mosque, so certainly the Gate is of period of Emperor Shah Jahan. No doubt about that. It is either one storey up of the Roshnai Gate, or of some other location. Most of the Fort Gates were closed by the British with walls, and the Gate used was the one opened after centuries, that is the Hathi pur Gate leading to the inside of the Lahore Fort. It remains open to this day. The Aurangzebi Gate was opened after partition for use, that is after 1947. If our Gate was not here, then it was somewhere else, perhaps even outside the enclosure. Anyway enjoy the majesty of this Shah Jahani Darwaza in full!

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