ROYAL TRAIL PACKAGE 2

 

CHOWK KOTWALI TO MASTI GATE VIA KASHMIRI BLOCK

The Walled City of Lahore Authority has completed the package -1 of Royal Trail in 2015. On the same techniques and mechanism the Package- 2 has been started on 15th of August 2015. Following are the details of the Package -2:

  • Trail Length : 750 meters
  • Streets length: 2428
  • of Properties:

Residential: 261
Commercial: 246

  • Bazaars:  Azam Cloth, Pakistan Cloth , Rim  & Moti Bazaars

The project is completed.

 

INTERVENTIONS:

  • Façade Improvement
  • Development of Infrastructure Services

(Main roads and lateral streets)

  • Water Supply System
  • Storm Water Drainage System
  • Sewerage System
  • Underground Electrical Works
  • Telecommunication Underground Services
  • Natural Gas Distribution System

 

DOCUMENTATION OF BHATTI GATE BAZAAR WALLED CITY LAHORE

 

  • The Bhatti Gate is south –western gate of Walled City, it is lies between the Morri Gate on east and the Taxali Gate on the north-west.
  • The approach road leading from the gate line up with a stretch of Shahrah-i-Pakistan, south of circular road the Bhatti Gate.
  • It was probably named after the tribe of Bhats who settled in this part of the town during the region of Malik Ayyaz and remained there for several centuries.
  • The original gate structure was in ruins when it was reconstructed by the British. the new structure was built in a British colonial style totally unlike the original.
  • Total length of Bhatti Gate Bazaar 00 m
  • Number of street open in Bazaar No
  • Total Number of properties is 182

The documentation of all the buildings completed. The technical drawings are being made and the preparation of PC-1 is under process.
The work on ground will start after the approval of the PC-1.

 

CONSERVATION OF THE NORTHERN WALL OF WAZIR KHAN MOSQUE

 

The Northern wall of the Wazir Khan Mosque is also as unique as the other side. Unfortunately the side was encroached upon by several shops which were removed in 2012. In 2015 the conservation of the Northern side of Wazir Khan began with the technical assistance of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and funding of the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The conservation included the excavation of the Hujras and revealing the original ground level of the Mosque. A retaining wall was constructed after the excavation and conservation of Hujras. At present this is completed and Hujras will soon be converted into art and crafts shops.

 

Picture Wall, Lahore Fort

 

The Picture Wall stands out as an example of the high­est standard of craftsmanship. It is the world’s largest glazed tile mural (length 450 m with average height of 15 m) and is the main reason for the Lahore Fort being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since September 2015 Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKTC/AKCSP) is partnering with the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) on the documentation of Picture Wall as part of the larger Lahore Fort conservation project. The completion of detailed documentation work led to organisation of an international workshop in November 2016 with the purpose to “engage with the special site-specific conditions, to define possible approaches, and identify locations and types for prototypical conservation interventions” for the conservation of the Picture Wall (PW). Based on the outcome of that workshop, a 10m wide and 15m high segment of the western wall of the PW was selected for prototype conservation.

This section is representative of all types of surface decorations employed on the PW including glazed murals. Six missions involving international experts (microbiologist, surface conservators, material scientists etc) have been carried out. We are now at the stage where the prototype is ready to be reviewed and course of action is agreed for the future conservation of the complete PW.

The international workshop was planned for 15-17 January 2018 which aimed to fine tune the suggested course of action for conservation with participation of national and international experts, and relevant stakeholders by reviewing and assessing the work carried out on the prototype. This Workshop also provided a good platform to discuss the various aspects of documentation, conservation and presentation of the conservation work implemented with recommendations for any future alternate solution and way forward. The Workshop was planned over three days with the following objectives for each day.

·         To introduce the PW and set the stage for discussions

·         Detailed briefing about the conservation plan of the PW Prototype area

·         Observations on work and policies proposed on the prototype.

·         Summarize conclusions leading to a proposed way forward for conservation of the Picture Wall.

 

CONSERVATION OF THE 17TH CENTURY CHOWK WAZIR KHAN

 

Traversing the giant arches of Delhi Gate Lahore, crossing the maze of shops, labyrinth of narrow winding streets, aromatic food stalls, balconies and jharokas, bricked homes and tangled rooftops you will come across the splendor of Lahore – Wazir Khan Mosque. This is the 17th century jewel of Lahore built in 1634 AD, by Hakim Ilm Ud Din the then Governor of Lahore during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The Mosque is a world class illustration of fresco and tile mosaic work. Other important feature of this mosque is the presence of Hujras and shops on its eastern and northern sides which were constructed to make the Mosque sustainable through income generated by these Hujras and shops. The most interesting feature of this grand Mosque is also the open space or the Chowk outside it. This Chowk that leads you into this captivating monument is the Wazir Khan Chowk. This Wazir Khan Chowk had been once the hub of cultural activities which included bethak system (small social gatherings), food and other stalls.

Right there in this Chowk you can see the Hujras of the Wazir Khan Mosque, Shrine of a Sufi Saint Hazrat Said Souf and an eccentric Well of Diwan Dina Nath who was the finance minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This is not the end, you can also see the colorful cloth shops of Asia’s biggest cloth market, Pakistan Cloth Market, dhol and dhamal being performed at the very point and among the melodies several enticing food stalls will surely attract you to try out the unique food. … So many wonders together in one Chowk are hard to find anywhere in Lahore – THIS IS “CHOWK WAZIR KHAN”.

The Chowk as you see today was not the same till a year ago. The area around this Mosque was also affected badly due to unplanned development and encroachments in the form of houses, shops and roads. With the passage of time the levels of road on northern side and open area on eastern side of Mosque were raised and hujras and shops were filled and blocked and several encroachments snatched the beauty of the open space. The space was used by the welding vendors, car parking and at night for storing goods and parking freight vehicles. The open space that was once reflecting the hustle and bustle of the walled city life was completely damaged. The access to the grand Mosque was obstructed and created a bad image before the tourists. There were 73 encroachments overshadowing this jewel from the public. The well of Dina Nath was also encroached with shops and local stalls- all had literally damaged the beauty of 17th century locality. In April 2012 the Walled City of Lahore Authority got Wazir Khan Chowk cleared of the encroachments. In 2015 with the partnership of Aga Khan Trust for Culture planning to conserve the Chowk began and that was a step towards the revival of the lost glory. The US Ambassador’s funding was the source to revive the Chowk. Beside other consolidation and repair works of the Mosque structure, it was also decided to repair the shops and Hujras, and restore the original floor levels of this Chowk as they were in Shah Jahan’s era. Finally in the year 2015 the conservation of the Mosque and the square began. The funds for the open square were given by the US Ambassador’s fund.

Here comes something interesting now. For the purpose of conservation the excavation started and a few test pits were dug at different places on northern and eastern side of the Mosque, which produced encouraging results. On the basis of which it was decided to conduct a proper excavation. Before the excavation of the outside area of Mosque it was planned to dig two soak wells for disposal of rain water on extreme ends of the Chowk in southeastern and north-eastern corner of the area. Excavations were started in soak well, on the south eastern corner of open area in front of Mosque and carried down to the depth of 5’-6”. At that level a brick on edge floor was revealed. This floor was found in damaged condition due to fixing of an electricity pole at this particular point in the past. Over this original floor level five episode of raising the level of the area with debris were noticed by the experts. These debris layers were mixed with brick bats, potshards, ashes, charcoals, iron fragments, sand, animals’ bones and kanker lime plaster fragments etc. which was a clear indication that this area was intentionally filled and raised. At a depth of 8’-6” a number of human bones were exposed which showed that those bones were reburied at this place. After the removal of those disturbed bones, a complete human skeleton, buried in grave was exposed with orientation of north-south with its face towards west. It seemed to be a Muslim grave. All these bones were reburied in nearby graveyard after completing all necessary requirements needed and according to religious practice. This also indicated that at some point the place was used as a graveyard as well. As per historic record, this particular area was known as “rarrh” and used as grave yard in Sultanate period (1206 -1526) AD. This grave was unearthed at the depth of 8’-10” from the top floor level. The depth of this grave was almost the same as the grave of Hazrat Ishaq Gazooni located in an underground chamber in the courtyard of the mosque. Pottery collected from layers ranged from 17th to 20th century AD, and the potsherd collected from lower layers beneath the floor were of 12 to 13th century AD. The pottery found had rims, utensil bases, body shreds of small and medium sized pots, oil lamps and jars etc.

The project of conservation of this Chowk aimed at exposing the full façade of the Mosque and restoring the Chowk by taking down the pavement level of the Chowk to its historic level. It will also help reviving the urban open space by reorganizing it to be used for enhancement of the visual environment and for communal activities.

The clearing out of the Chowk and its restoration to something more closely resembling its original form now presents the locals and tourists both with an open vista where they can stop and enjoy the splendor and magnificence of the surrounding monuments. All these uphill tasks were completed in 2017.

Now there is another attraction attached with the Chowk… The Music for Peace! Every Saturday you can come to this Chowk and listen to different kinds of music. Qawali, Sufi Kalam, Dhamal, Dhol, Heer, Whirling Derwesh and much more is there. Yes, keeping in mind the sanctity of the grand Mosque there is no rock music or anything other than Sufi Music. Well, I think Sufi music is enough to promote peace and harmony. To my surprise foreigners and locals are now coming to enjoy this evening every Saturday. There are also religious ceremonies being held in this Chowk like Milad, Naat Mushaira (Symposium) etc. The local community is enthralled with this activity where all can come and have a good family time.

 

PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION OF SEHDARI IN LAHORE FORT

 

On the eastern side of the Barri Khwabgah inside Jahangir’s Quadrangle is the Sahdari,a pavilion called Sah Dari because it has three (sah) doors (dar). Its architectural style suggests its origin in the Sikh period. It is decorated with fresco paintings and is said to have served as an office of Faqir Syed Noor-ud-din, the trusted Governor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.The frescos portray floral designs; birds and scenes based on Hindu religious themes and very obviously belong to the Sikh period.

The monument has never been conserve previously. The documentation and technical designs of the monument have been completed by the WCLA Conservation team. The original state needs to be revealed by exploration works to be carried out along with the consequent additions. The conservation of the Sah Dari is in process with an amount of PKR 4045304.

 

Royal Kitchens Of Lahore Fort

 

Royal Kitchens, which might sound new to you, are located inside Lahore Fort behind the stately Alamgiri Gate. The site was a scene of wilderness till the Walled City of Lahore Authority planned to restore it to its original condition. The waist high shrubs were removed and the area was excavated for the conservation. A proper documentation of the building was carried out by experienced architects and conservationists.

At present the conservation is towards completion and final touches are being made. It is proposed by the authority that this place after conservation will be turned into a night café. As the place is slightly outside the main area of the Lahore Fort, therefore, it will be used as a café cum restaurant in the evenings. The place will also be illuminated and special food and ambiance will be given to attract the tourists and visitors. With the ongoing conservation the myths related to the existence of Royal Bath also seem changing. The labour engaged in excavation has found the kitchen burners, tandoor and other items which endorse the foundations of a kitchen.

Historians quote that the Royal Kitchens were constructed during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. It was where the food was prepared along with a huge variety of drinks and sweets. The helpers would carry the food from there to the private chambers of the king, queen, princes, princesses and other courtiers. When the Sikh took over the Lahore Fort, the Royal Kitchens were damaged like many other buildings inside the Fort. The kitchen was converted into a food store room and at the same time it was used as a stable for horses and other animals. The British in 1849 converted it into interrogation cells and jails. During that time the open verandas were closed with bricks and new structures like iron doors and beams were added along with the construction of an upper storey. The upper storey served as offices for policemen. The electricity supply lines, sewage system and water drains were laid during the British period. During the British Rule, another storey was added in the building. Some historians and architects claim that the structure we see today is the upper most storey of the building and the original kitchens are buried below. it is said that the Police Department used it as interrogation cells until late 1980’s, when they were handed over to the Archaeology Department. After partition the building of Royal Kitchen was agonized more than ever. The beams, wooden doors, windows were taken away. Maybe those were pulled down during the riots. The building was extremely dilapidated and later some of the dilapidated parts were demolished and the offices of Archaeology Department were constructed there. The building that we see today is the remaining part of the huge kitchen complex. Much of the parts are demolished and many collided with the passage of time.