Lahore has been a center of educational, literary and cultural activities since ages. In this regard the city has a majestic significance. Who so ever comes here; becomes a part of this conurbation. An impressive belt of legendary personalities came and permanently stay here due to the magical effect of Lahore. AllamaIqbal is also among these glitzy ones.
In different time periods, many eminent personalities contributed in education, literature and poetry. Owing to these activities the name of “Pak Tea House” is at the top of the list, which has its own history and was a dominant spot for the glooming of art, literature and culture.
In European countries the custom of tea houses and qehwa houses is very hoary. Located in every market, these tea houses entertain people from different races and colors, castes and creeds. Where, along with tea and qehwa; discussions take place on every outlook of the world. During British rulein 1939 and 1940, a tea house was established in Lahore, located at the bank of Mall Road towards NeelaGumbadd.
This tea house was named as “India Tea House”. Where people from different school of thoughts used to come. But no one even imagine that this tea house would become a center of writers, poets and literary personalities.
In 1939, “Bazm e DaastaanGoyian” an organization for the preferment of literature was founded. Naseer Ahmad Jami was selected as a first General Secretary. But after six months the name was modified as “Halqa e Arbab e Zouq” that is still prevailing. In 1939s the processions of this Halqa took place in YMCA’s hall. Afterwards they started to ensue at the upper floor of India Tea House. However, before this, all the organizations like Bzm e Adab Punjab, Anjuman e Ittehaad e Punjab, Anjuman e Matalib e Mufida Punjab were working in collaboration with each other. After the foundation of this tea house, all the members of these domains moved to this forum.
Then in 1943 an organization emerged with name of “Halqaa e Arbab e Ilm”, whose focal person was BaedaarBakht. Amongst his companions were Agha Shorish Kashmiri, Syed NazirZaidi and Malik AslamHayyat. Later on in cooperation withMolana Hamid Ali Khan an Anjuman named as “Urdu Sbha” was established; which was participated by Professor PitrasBukhari, KhwajaDil Muhammad, Dr. Muhan Singh Dewana and Dr. Shanti RoopBhtnagar
It was a peak time for Lahore’s education and literature. Just as the dawn of educational institutes emerged in subcontinent, legendary and literary personalities from Uttar Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh, KhyberPakhtunKhwa and from many other cities of Punjab; moved towards Lahore. Among whom Muhammad Hussain Azad, TajwarNajeebAbadi, MahmoodTaerani, Mufti Abdullah Tonki, MirzaArshadGorkaniDehlwi,MirManzarHussainNazimLakhnawi, Muhammad Hassan Jalandhri, Muhammad ShafiQasuri, Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Professor PitrasBukhari, Dakit Abdullah, Sufi Tabbasum, A-Hameed, are renowned ones. Owing to these personalities, the art and literature of Lahore achieved its crowning point and this Tea House of Lahore became the spot of writers and poets.
Then at the time of creation of Pakistan in 1947, this literary progress was adversely affected. All the Hindu and Sikh poets, professors and writers left Lahore and moved to India and this India Tea House was sealed by lock.
In 1948, a few literature oriented personalities migrated from India and played a role inallotting this Tea House to a Chinese Lunch Home; who also worked over the décor and furnishing of this place. The most prominent of those are AleemSiraaj, Sadiq and A-Hameed. Mr. Siraaj let the allotment of this Tea House.
Before 1947 there was written Indian Pak Tea House with cement on the face of this Tea House. But after partition the wordIndia was smashed and “Pak” was written over there. In this way India Tea House was transformed into “Pak Tea House”.
With its reopening the writers and poets started coming back and this place again became a center of education and literature. It was then not merely a Tea House but became a part of the culture and ethos; where other than a few all famous writers, poets and fiction writers used to come and sit. They were enjoying tea cups, were telling fictions and criticizing novels, doing poetry sessions and applauding ghazals, discussing riots and much more. But as the wounds are still up, there was a clear effect of this historical revolution on poetry, novel writing and myth writing.
Pak Tea House was generally closed at 11pm. But if there were any procession of some literary organization then it was kept open till 1am.
Writings of famous poets and authors were published in newspapers that were followed by arrival of people from different cities, who came to Lahore and relished tea with their favorite poets, authors and novelists.
Along with this YMCA was involved in organizing many social and literary activities. There were arranged many poetry sessions (mushaira) and mythical processions in its hall which later were transformed into Pak Tea House.
Sometimes respected teachers and well reputed students of G.C also used to come here. Moreover weekly meetings of Halqaa e Arbab e Zouq also held at this tea house on every Sunday after Saturday demonstrations. People like MunirNyazi, NasirKazmi, MukhtarSiddique and YousafZafar also joined such sessions.
A-Hameed in his book “Lahore keYadain”, mentioned about this tea house.
“This is not only a restaurant but was signified as a literature hub and cultural center. Where from dawn till dusk is followed by the activities of writers. Whole day get-togethers are continued. Tea festivities are endured. The environment was very open and comfortable. No one interrupt any other. My first meeting with Ashfaq Ahmed, NasirKazmi, ShauhratBukhari, MunirNyazi, Anjum Romani, QayyumNazar and SajjadRizvi also took place over here. But every pinnacle has a fall. The formative years of Pak Tea House also passed. Authors and poets dispersed. But Pak Tea House is still thereat its place. Occasionallyolden writers and poets come and sit; but the charm is no more the same as before”
A-Hameed who is the eye witness of the glory and fading of Pak Tea House, wrote a novel on it titled as “Dhoop or Shagufay”; which starts as well as ends on Pak Tea House. This novel displays the glimpse of those who used to sit here. He writes about the tumble of Pak Tea House as,
Those due to whom this Restaurant had liveliness, those whose laughter sparkled this place; are no more existing here. Many of them have been expired. Those who are surviving are trapped in the chains of circumstances that they cannot come to visit. Pak Tea House is just as the ruins of TajMahal, which tells us the stories of ancient times. There is an iron grill on its front door in which the flairs of past have been lost due to dust.
People pass by this magnanimously. No one even ponders that many historical personalities sit here and their aroma of poetic verses adorns the atmosphere.
Afterwards this historic tea house became a carpets shop and then a tyre shop. During this many journalists, poets and writers raised their voices to preserve this heritage. Several features were written on its importance. But no one paid heed to this.
At last in 2012, by Punjab Government an initiative was taken to renovate and redecorate this Tea House with an expense of 4 billion and then it was kept open for general public in 2013. Opening ceremony was honored by former Prime Minister Miyan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and restoration of this Tea House was pronounced parallel to the Metro Bus Plan. During the opening ceremony, it was also mentioned that famous poet TahirJamil who was sick of diabetes at that time and doctors recommended cutting his one leg in order to save his life. He went for Umrah and there he met Miyan Nawaz. When he came to know about the disease of TahirJamil, he emphasized him to stay there for the sake of treatment. In the following duration he got very much impressed of TahirJamil’s poetry. Meanwhile, TahirJamil told him about Pak Tea House and the activities taking place here. Miyan Nawaz Sharif promised to restore this place but unfortunately TahirJamil died in 2008. All through the ceremony Miyan Sb. was feeling so much glee that he has fulfilled Poet TahirJamil’s desire. In the year 2013 when Pak Tea House was opened, the petition of writers and poets got recognition. There was flair of happiness in literary circles.
Now Pak Tea House has made so astonishing and superbly descent. Sofas are placed instead of benches. The building has also been modernized. The eatables rates are kept higher that are not affordable by poets and authors. It has been transformed into a mini restaurant inspite of a Tea House. Girls and boys from different institutes are used to come here for time pass that is not appreciable by literary spheres.