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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
By Maira Fayyaz

LAHORE: UNESCO has launched funding for the World Heritage Sites in Lahore to pay them more attention as they face practical maintenance and management problems.

Pakistan is rich in archaeological and historical sites. The Department of Archeology and government of Pakistan were in need of funds for the protection, preservation and maintenance of the historical sites in a proper way with the help of the locals and foreign archaeologists/experts, the UN’s cultural organisation said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government has referred three sites for the World Cultural Heritage List which, include the Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens and Rohtas Fort.

The government had made great struggles to preserve the Rohtas Fort.

Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden, built more than four centuries ago, have witnessed many changes with time.

They were the worst victims of shabby treatment by their occupants who owned them after the Mughals (1526-1799). The Sikhs, who ruled from (1799-1849), demolished monuments built by the Muslims and damaged the decorative art of several historic buildings.

Lahore Fort is an ensemble of about 30 monuments related to each other and located within the enclosing fortification wall. The origin of the fort, like the city of Lahore itself, is engulfed in the mist of time.

The other World Heritage Site in Lahore, bearing number 172, is the Shalimar Garden.

The garden is one of the best specimens of the art of landscaping introduced by the Mughals in the South Asian subcontinent. Founded on July 12, 1641 on the orders of Emperor Shahjahan, the garden was completed in a record time of one year, five months and four days.

The stepped garden has three terraces, the uppermost called “Farah Bakhsh” or the “pleasure-giving” and the middle and lower terraces collectively known as “Faiz Bakhsh” or the bounty-giving.

The whole garden spreads over a total area of 17 hectares, about two-third of which is devoted to plantation while canals, pathways and other architectural features like pavilions cover the rest of the plan.

Four hundred and ten fountains, in addition to five cascades and rare features of “Sawan Bhadon” play the delectable musique de leau.

Since more than 450 years both the World Heritage Sites of Lahore had witnessed many ups and downs in addition to braving the apathetic climatic behaviour.

The Sikh rule in the Punjab brought havoc upon these marvellous monuments that were stripped off their decorative elements. The incompatible additions and alterations in the Lahore Fort as well as Shalimar Garden carried out by the Sikhs and then the British, were an eyesore on the gorgeous looks of these monuments. The Sikh rulers were chiefly responsible for most of these pillage and also despoiling their delicate nature by erecting unsightly structures, crude framing of decorative arches and mutilating other decorations. While Shalimar Garden became the camping ground for the forces and visiting dignitaries, the Lahore Fort served as {censored}nal magazine and refuge for the military. Here the Makatibkhana, or the Clerk’s Station, was turned into Treasury while at couple of other places were set up the private chapels.

As the conservation of monuments is a very special operation, different from the requirement of modern structures, artisans trained in these crafts are very much required to achieve desired results.

The Department of Archaeology used to employ a limited number of persons belonging to the families practicing such crafts, and who had migrated to Pakistan at the time of independence in 1947. As the remuneration was far from being attractive, most of them had quit in a quest to find their livelihood elsewhere.

For the preservation and restoration of monuments most of the material used may be termed as of non-conventional class.

Stones of different kinds and colours, including precious and semi-precious material, kankar lime, surkhi etc are not commonly used these days hence not freely available in the market.

Pollution through atmospheric agents is as dangerous for the old structures, which might have already lived their natural life, as any other factor that accelerates the speed of deterioration.



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    Lahore fort.jpeg
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