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Making a dead city alive again in 1421

Title: Amir Timur
Title: Amir Timur

Lahore was the passing point of many conquerors, and the city witnessed the ups and downs of the time. The greatest upheaval was that of Amir Timur, or Timur lang. The invasion of Timur to Hindustan is an event in itself. The entrance to Punjab was in 1398.

Shaikha Gakkhar was the Governor of Lahore. Perhaps only for a period of one year or less. Seeing the fall of other cities of Hindustan to the Timurids, Shaikha Gakkhar capitulated to the Timurids, and offered his assistance o them. He was the first to side with Timur. Timur knew that he was doing all this as a necessity to save himself, but even then, gave him credit for services rendered to him. In this way Lahore was saved from the first assault of the Timurids, comparing it to other fallen cities, where massacres had taken place. Once Timur had left, Shaikha Gakkhar was not willing to please the Timurids again. This report was submitted to Timur and he ordered Prince Pir Muhammed Jahangeer, Prince Rustam, Amir Sulaiman and Amir Jahan to set things right.

This party of Princes reached Lahore and ransacked it. Shaikha Gakkhar was probably put n chains and sent to the presence of Amir Timur. But most of these things are scattered here and there and little information is obtained. When Lahore was ransacked, much wealth and property was obtained from the city. It is said that the city was emptied of all its population.

Lahore was a deserted city. No one lived here. (Perhaps few did but nothing is known about the composition of Lahore in those days). When Sayyid Mubarak son of Khizr Khan became the ruler of Hindustan, he appointed Malik Mahmud Hassan as Viceroy of Lahore. Sayyid Mubarak himself entered Lahore after defeating Jasrat Ghakkhar brother of Shaikha Gakkhar. The task before Sayyid Mubarak was stupendous, to repopulate and build Lahore from a scratch. It is said that in 1421, there was not even an owl living in Lahore. The Fort and the Gates were repaired and a standing army put in the Lahore Fort. Invitations and concessions were issued all over the region, inviting people to settle and build in Lahore, with the cooperation of the state machinery itself. And that is the birth of NEW LAHORE in 1421. This resilience of Lahore to bounce back is the back bone of the Pakistani spirit.

Amir Timur in Tashkent
Amir Timur in Tashkent



A bold step for science

Reconstructed Timur
Reconstructed Timur

The Russians are people with their own minds. They wanted no interference in their work. One bright day the Russians decided to dig the Mausoleum of Amir Timur in Samarkhand, and they took out the bones. There were two skeletons buried in the mazar, and each was sent for analysis to forsenics headquarters in Moscow. There for the first time in history Russian scientists made the actual face of Amir Timur from his bones. This was done by M. Gerasimov in 1941, before this science had caught up with the West. Statues of Amir Timur were made from his bones, and then his bones were reburied in his mausoleum.

By this single act, and analysis, we had a face reconstruction of the greatest Chaghatai of all times, Amir Timur, also known as Timur Lang, or Timur the lame. Scientists discovered that it was actually so, as one leg of the Emperor was indeed broken, and he had limped in real life. The replicas of his face were placed in the Timur Museum in Tashkent, USSR. The face you see attached is the actual face of Amir Timur, and this is the same Timur, whose troops passed Lahore. Perhaps he came here himself, perhaps he sent  his men. In any case he dealt with  Shaikha Ghakkhar and his treachery and dealt with it in his own way. But that is the other story.



Perhaps the most bizarre incident of Lahore

The Data Darbar Complex invites people from all walks of life. People turn up here with the hope that prayers to Data Darbar would result in fulfillment of their dreams. Dreams die hard. As free food is served here, twenty four hours a day, it also attracts all the wayward and vagabonds for overnight stays. Pickpockets abound here. Young boys running from their homes frequent here and under observation from pedophiles all the time. The boys are hungry, insecure and can be easily victimized by the seducers. This goes on all the time, even to this day, although once upon a time, the Government set up a Help Center outside it, to detect such cases. We think that the Center has not even touched one case of prevention, but still it is good that it is there.

Javed Iqbal Serial killer
Javed Iqbal Serial killer

Javed Iqbal Mughal was a man in his forties who saw it as a lucrative trade. He would pick up boys from there and used to take him to his dump situated on Ravi road, Lahore. Not only would he and his friends used to rape the boys, the services of the boys used to be provided to higher ups also. It is hinted that a lot of people availed the services of Javed Iqbal Mughal, and he made money out of them. Although the length of the period could have been longer, and could also have been carried out in other areas, but the Data Darbar incidents are related to the years 1998 and 1999.

Javed Iqbal Mughal went a step further. He started killing the boys once their idea of fun was over. They would cut the child to pieces and then dissolve his body in acid. The clothes used to be collected in a room and the soft tissues burnt in acid. Whatever residues were left, were taken in a sack, and thrown in the river Ravi afterwards. In a course of two years, Javed had raped and murdered more than 100 boys. This was verified by the set of different clothes and slippers found on the site, which the parents ransacked for clue to their lost children. On 30th December, 1999, Javed was caught in this trap and taken to prison. Headlines were made.

Search for bodies
Search for bodies

Javed Iqbal Mughal was caught and sentenced to the same kind of death on 16th March, 2000. But before this sentence could be carried out, he was found hanging in his cell. Reputation was that he was about to take important names, and those influential people had him sentenced before that with quick justice, to keep his mouth shut. The man had started talking to journalists.

Whatever the case, it is the most horrible and bizarre incidents in the history of Lahore. It could make into a chilling horror TV serial or a movie anytime. But the question remains WHY? Even international psychologists came here to interview him and made the statement that there was nothing wrong with this man, he was as normal as any other. A chilling reminder that the psyche of man can go wrong any time. Allah saves the world from such psychos!



Care of horses in Lahore

Mughal horseshoe
Mughal horseshoe

The horse has always been a wanted commodity, both for personal use, as well as in warfare. But horses were loved too. People were ready to give their lives for horses. In Lahore various market for horses existed all the time. The local horses were caught and brought to town, but never fetched the kind of money, that Arab horses got here. Horses also came here from Mongolia and China, and of course Central Asia. And with these horses also came the horses experts, the specialists.

These Nalbands of Lahore knew the diseases of horses and the way to cure them. They knew the way to train them. A horse could learn to do anyhing. Under expert guidance, they became docile POLO horses and Sultan Qutub ud din Aibeg played Polo in Lahore all the time. They also became RACE horses and friendly races were held in Lahore, when there was nothing else to do. And the horses also became DANCING horses, a tradition which continues to this day. At wedding ceremonies we have the dance of horses, as well as national events like NATONAL HORSE AND CATTLE SHOW held under President Ayub Khan at Fortress Stadium Lahore.

The biggest market for horses was near the Taxalli Gate Lahore as well as outside the Delhi Gate, in the compound of Chowk Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh had a favourite horse by name of Sher-dil, and pictures of it exist today. The Sikhs were fond of horses too, and Ranjit Singh was ready to wage war on Afghanistan for the mare LAILA. Laila is one of the most famous horse of Lahore, and the saddle that Ranjit Singh used was in the Lahore Fort too, when it was stolen there by political persons. The reputation is that it was caught at the London Airport by British Customs. Nothing further is known.

Sher-dil of Dara Shikoh
Sher-dil of Dara Shikoh

The centre in Lahore for horse care was outside the Masjid Wazeer Khan, from where famous Nalbands conducted their business. Baba Imamuddin is a famous Farrier of Sikh times. But many of the mosques of Lahore were literally stable for horses of the Sikh Army and used as a fodder place for them. Fodder was cut in hand made machines by hand and available at many points. Even today we see them at points in Lahore. Drinking troughs of water for horses must have been there previously but were built on a brand new basis when the British took over Lahore. Some of these troughs of water are still there and very romantic. There was a famous trough of water near the Mazar of Nau-guzza of Lahore in Langa Mandi.

Many books on horses also written in Lahore, plain as well as illustrated ones. One famous manuscript made by Imam Baksh Lahori is world famous. Governor of Lahore Syed Abdullah also wrote a book on horses. Many mohallas in Lahore are named after horse riders, like the Mohalla of Chabuk Swaran, where the artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was born on 21st September, 1897. All this history of Lahore is actually never written.



The Queen and M.A. Rahman Chughtai

Newspaper report
Newspaper report

Queen Elizabeth has a great fondness for collecting art. The Queen’s collection is world famous for both its depth and content. In a visit to Pakistan, the Queen saw some paintings of M.A. Rahman Chughtai at Governor’s House Lahore. She was deeply interested and desired to meet the artist. As the artist was not available (explain later), she got a choice of some paintings, selected one and bought it. The work was entitled SPRING and it was delivered to the British High Commissioner Pakistan. We attach a report of the Civil and Military Gazette Lahore.

Queen's Appreciation
Queen’s Appreciation

Later M.A. Rahman Chughtai not only presented five etchings of his to the Queen, he also sent her a copy of the famous book AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI. The Queen was gracious in acknowledging all this with her thanks. When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died on 17th January, 1975, Queen Elizabeth was one of the many Heads of State who condoled his death with us. Chughtai Museum too presented a painting to her namely THE TUTOR and it was given to the British Ambassador Laurence Pumphrey, and a ROYAL AIR FORCE PLANE took it to the Queen in England.

The Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai shortened distances between various countries and Pakistan, and brought good will for Pakistan. A tradition present Government know not how to recognize and utilize this good will in favour of a progressive and strong Pakistan.

Queen's Condolence
Queen’s Condolence



The Indian entrapment of dumb Pakistanis

Dancing mantras
Dancing mantras

Our house is part of the idea of Pakistan. And this idea is is strong, so viable, that it scares the enemies. It not only gives them sleepless nights, it makes them sit on their pots many times of the day. Pakistan was the first step, the first experiment of the re-invigorated Islamic system, the renaissance of Islam, the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam. The Iqballian dream completed by our beloved Quaid-e-Azam and from there it was bound to go places, move forward in time. A most beautiful statement of the Pakistan idea is given by our esteemed lady Miss Shameem Ahmad. A more detailed explanation is given on the politics of Pakistan, by Mr Ghulam Ahmad Pervaiz, the Adviser on Islamic Affairs to the Quaid-e-Azam himself. It is on record that he was the only person who could walk in to see the Quaid-e-Azam without even an appointment. One can understand the kind of respect our Father of the Nation had for his adviser.

Alcohol mantra
Alcohol mantra

The Indian propaganda machine works on many angles, but the easiest is to entrap people in some kind of powerful position, by rewards, by offerings of alcohol, and obviously the undulating hips of their screen beauties, all the time. This Mantra is simple. We are all the same people. We are one nation. The idea of dividing India was a stupid one, not up to the modernism of the times. A thousand years of rule in India by the Muslims, and all kinds of leniency shown by the Sultans and the Kings to their Hindu subjects, but to no avail. The Muslim history is a history of documentation, the Hindu history is a history of story-telling. Tall tales abound. Take any Muslim subject. Perhaps a couple of books by Muslims, a few by Western writers, and dozens by Hindu writers. Working without any references telling tall tales even the crow will not swallow with pebbles in the water. And that dished out as the truth. For God’s sake! Come into the modern world. Falsehood is eventually out. We will continue to talk about this entrapment of dumb Pakistanis, for there are a lot of intellectual; and passionate ones, but these poor people are in the entrapment of poverty itself. Our system does not guarantee any fairness to our people. The renaissance will eventually bring revolt of the make break kind. We look forward to better times in Pakistan.

Undulating hips
Undulating hips




USA invitation
USA invitation

A person walked in a month back and suggested that I go on a lecture tour. He said, ‘Do not waste time here. Your time means money. You have information to give, and information means money’. Such suggestions have always been there, from one society to another. No harm done. Good. People as well as nations should interact, find out about each other and then make the world a better place. I am all for it.

But when these lecture tours bending the moral values of the person being sent, to channel him through a cobweb of rewards, for services rendered. That is a different ball game and care should be taken, that for self aggrandizement, national values are never sacrificed.

James M Langley (left) and Senator Kefauver
James M Langley (left) and Senator Kefauver

M.A. Rahman Chughtai too, used to get invitations for tours abroad. Ambassador James Langley invited him on a US tour in 1958, and Columbia University was willing go finance it further, into a longer stay. In the same vein, the Russians extended their invitsation to him. In 1962, V. Titaev, Secretary, USSR Embassy wrote to him:

“May I request you to inform us whether it will be possible for you to make a trip to the Soviet Union this year and take with you some of your nice pictures to arrange an exhibition there. My sincerest gratitude for your lovely etching that you presented to me.”

Others to wished to invite him. He used to send his paintings abroad, he declined to take any invitation. Why? He knew best, but he was polite to all. He never wanted to get into any political debate or debacle. He was an artist with Iqballian KHUDI attached to him.

Lecture tour form
Lecture tour form

Robert O Jones, a senior US diplomat also tried to arrange shows in the USA. In 1977 V. Smirnov, the Russian Ambassador requested a Chughtai’s show in Moscow. Masood Nabi Noor, the Federal Cultural Secretary, on behalf of President Zia ul Haque declined the same. A hundred and one stories like these in our archives. We will pick some of them.



Memory loss of bureaucracy

Invitation Card Alhamra Inauguration
Invitation Card Alhamra Inauguration

Chughtai Museum has always stated things backed by documentary evidence. Nowadays the evidence is the will of the Master, whoever the Master may be. Let us restate the role of M.A. Rahman Chughtai as the FOUNDER OF ART IN PAKISTAN. Not content with the position of being ‘the greatest living Master of India’ (as stated by Bombay Times itself), he wanted to do everything for Art in Pakistan. The Art Department at University of Punjab was his idea, and the first Head, Anna Molka was appointed with his consent (record there). A lot of designs were being asked from him by Liaquat Ali Khan, on behalf of the Quaid e Azam himself. The Quaid himself approved many designs within his lifetime. But this essay is not about that. There was no cultural centre in Pakistan and M.A Rahman Chughtai knew it well. A meeting was held at the house of Begum Shahnawaz to thrash out this issue, even before partition, and it came in the papers then.

Resident Director Shahnaz Arshad wrote a brochure on the foundation of Alhamra and we reproduce the first page. All these records were there, now perhaps thrown to the ‘Radi’ wala. In any case on 10th March, 1949, Alhamra was inaugurated by Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin with a show of Chughtai’s Art works. That is all on record. The insignia was designed by Chughtai, as well as the name itself, given by him. The name personified the Modernism in a Muslim Cultural Centre, by linking it with Alhamra of Spain. One of the greatest achievements of Muslim Civilization. He was instrumental in requesting the Government to allot the place for this Centre, and on the basis of this Centre, other centres came up in Karachi, Peshawer and Dacca. And the amusing part is that even those were inaugurated with Chughtai shows, and we have documentation about them too. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was so obsessed with the giving of a special status to the Centre, that he even took plants from his home, and planted them there. A number of Mango trees were planted by him there with his own hands, and most flourished for years.

1949 show
1949 show

There was phenomenal Cultural Activity in Alhamra in those days. Troupes came from all over the world and performed there. And this was not done with abundant of resources, but will of the people. A comment came in a newspaper report of that period and it is on record. The journalist said that he asked Secretary Khaleel Sahafi why there was no TEA served at the inauguration when the Governor General came, and Khaleel Sahafi confessed, that they actually had no money to serve even plain tea to guests. Will power creates nations, not resources, and Pakistan is the example of same.

This show was attended by people from all over the world. A delegation of VICE CHANCELLORS from AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES was there, as well as a State Visit by the Shahenshah of Iran , Reza Pahalwi. It put Pakistan on the Art map of the world. A number of diplomats came from Karachi to attend the show. Colonel Majeed Malik of the Press Information department was doing his part of the job.



Art in the Embassy programme

Benjamin H Oehlert buys Amal copy
Benjamin H Oehlert bought Amal copy

I was sitting in the American Ambassador’s house in Islamabad, and the Lady Ambassador brought a can of real fresh Coca-cola. No cans were there in the market then. It was a new experience, and brought by the President of the Coca-cola company of the world, honourably appointed as an American Ambassador to Pakistan. The Oehlerts were fond of Art and collected same from all over the world. They lived in Everglades Club, Florida, USA.

At the inauguration ceremony of AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI in 1968, done by President Ayub Khan, at Alhamra Lahore, the American Ambassador had come from Islamabad to be part of same. Oehlert initiated the ART IN THE EMBASSY PROGRAMME in Islamabad, and put paintings of Pakistani Artists in the embassy itself. All this was being done to win the heart and souls of Pakistanis.

State Department reported news
State Department reported news

The Oehlerts kept in touch with us even after retirement, and in 1975, after the death of the artist M A Rahman Chughtai, became Honorary Adviser to our Academy of Arts, later which turned into CHUGHTAI MUSEUM. The tradition of Americans in love with Chughtai Art was very long. Many American Presidents had Chughtai Art in their collection and archives. The US Department building itself has four Art works of M A Rahman Chughtai. The Kennedy Memorial in Boston has one painting. There are many others in American archives. The Art of M.A. Rahman brought peace and good will between the two countries all the time.

MARC in USA P1 (Click to Larger View)
MARC in USA P2 (Click to Larger View)