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Featured Pakistan: The Archaeological Marvel

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View From South-west Of Temple In Kashmiri Style, Malot, Chakwal, Punjab, 1875 (c).

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This view shows the sculptured facades on the south and west sides. Alexander Cunningham wrote in his report for the Archaeological Survey of India in 1872-1873. "The only remains of any antiquity at Mallot are a temple and gateway in the Kashmirian style of architecture.

They are built of a coarse sandstone of various shades of ochreous red and yellow, and many parts have suffered severely from the action of the weather, the surface having altogether crumbled away. The temple is a square of 18 feet inside, with a vestibule or entrance porch on the east towards the gateway.

On each side of the porch is a round fluted pilaster or half pillar supporting the trefoiled arch of the opening, and on each side of the entrance door there is a smaller pilaster of the same kind with a smaller trefoiled arch. The general effect of this facade is strikingly bold and picturesque."

Note - Sir Aural Stein in 1937 remarked: “It stands in impressive isolation on a bare rocky spur close to where the southern edge of the Salt Range, here nearly 3,000 feet above sea-level, falls off with precipitous cliffs towards the plain.”

Photograph of the temple in Kashmiri style at Malot, Jhelum District, taken by Joseph David Beglar in the 1870's.

Historic fort crumbles from neglect

Nabeel Anwar Dhakku
August 27, 2017


A LARGE section of Malot Fort is now obscured by wild grass.

A LARGE section of Malot Fort is now obscured by wild grass.

Like many historical sites in the Salt Range, the condition of the Malot Fort, a beautiful and unique fort in the region, is deteriorating because of neglect.
Two temples on the premises of the fort have crumbled, and the ruins of the fort are covered in wild growth.

Malot Fort was built on the top of a hill in the Malot village, around 40 kilometres from Chakwal city and 12km from Kallar Kahar. It was constructed by Janjua Emperor Raja Mal Khan in the 12th century.

Some reports say Khan was a Hindu Rajput who converted to Islam after Afghan invader Mohammad of Ghor, better known as Shihabuddin Ghori, invaded India in 1178.


THE crumbling remains of a turret.

THE crumbling remains of a turret.

The Janjua rulers in the Salt Range were a target for foreign invaders, attacked by all those passing through the region on their way to attack Delhi. The Nandna Pass, near the Nandna Fort, was the only way to Delhi.

In his book The Salt Range and the Potohar Plateau, travel writer Salman Rashid wrote that the Shayha Temple in the fort was more breathtaking than the rest of the remains.
Another portion of what used to be Malot Fort has been weathered by the elements.

Another portion of what used to be Malot Fort has been weathered by the elements.

He wrote: “Built of red sandstone, the temple and its gateway are a fine example of the Greek building tradition wedded to local temple architecture. Like Nandna and the two Shivite temples of Ketas, Malot also was built at a time when the Salt Range was under Kashmirian control. And so it faithfully followed the style of the Martand temple.”
According to him, there was once a “denticulate wall, interspersed with massive gate houses, overlooking the easy access from the north. Today all that remains is just a portion of this wall and two disintegrating gateways.”
The remains show how Greek building traditions were fused with local temple architecture.

The remains show how Greek building traditions were fused with local temple architecture.

Sir Alexander Cunningham, during a survey of archaeological sites in the Salt Range in 1860, declared the facade of Malot Fort to be “strikingly bold and picturesque”.
“The height of the trefoil arch and the massiveness of the square pilasters at the corners give an air of dignity to the building which is much enhanced by its richly fluted semi-circular pillars,” he said.
Overgrown weeds show the extent of the neglect of the concerned authorities. — Photos by the writer

Overgrown weeds show the extent of the neglect of the concerned authorities. — Photos by the writer

However the fort has been neglected by the Punjab archaeology department even though, according to the mission statement on its website, “It is the mission of the Directorate General of Archaeology to preserve and protect the built heritage and archaeological sites for future generations.”
The deputy director of the Directorate General of Archaeology Punjab, Maqsood Malik, said: “We have prepared a scheme to preserve historic sites in the Salt Range, which will be approved soon.”
 

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Amazing stone art at Makli Necropolis, which is full with at least 500,000 tombs, in Thatta, Sindh.
It is a large funerary monuments belonging to royalty.

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Sindh....

An ancient Hindu temple located in Nai Para of Mirpurkhas town in Sindh,
It is sign of rich heritage of Mirpurkhas which is full with many beautiful old Mosques, Temples, Sikh residencies and a 2300 years old Stupa.

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Paikhel Railway Station, a historic colonial-era building, still stands today 130 years after its construction.
Built by the British government in 1890, the railway station is approximately 686 feet above sea level and 209 meters above sea level.
The total length of railway line in Mianwali district is 237 km.
Construction of the Paikhel railway station on the track began in 1888 and was completed in the late 1890s.
The railway station was formally inaugurated on 18 March 1892 when freight trains started arriving.


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HERITAGE: THE FORGOTTEN TEMPLE OF GUJRANWALA

Waseem Shabbir Arain
October 9, 2022


The perpendicular structure of the old temple is a spectacular sight that attracts tourists from all over Pakistan | Instagram


The perpendicular structure of the old temple is a spectacular sight that attracts tourists from all over Pakistan | Instagram

Gujranwala is a historically significant town for Sikh heritage and the birthplace of Baba Sai Das, founder of the Gosain community and a contemporary of Baba Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism also known as Guru Nanak.

One of the tourist attractions of this ancient town is the grandiose Tombri Temple, popularly known as Toomri Mandir or Nanda Ram Mandir. It stands in the open and verdurous fields adjacent to my hometown of Baddoki Gosaian, two miles southwest from Gakhar Mandi on GT Road and about 16 kilometres from the main city of Gujranwala.

The area had not seen much urbanisation until recently. For the last seven years, however, the area around the temple has slowly been encroached upon by the newly established Defence Housing Authority (DHA) society.

According to a resident of Baddoki, Raja Muhammad Riaz aka Sain Boadh, the temple has been lying abandoned since 1947. It has no caretakers, says Riaz, who is well-versed with the history of the temple.

The Toomri Mandir near Gujranwala holds great religious, cultural and architectural significance. Sadly, despite its potential as a tourist attraction, it lies in a state of neglect
Some locals speculate that Toomri Mandir is as old as 500 years. However, according to various reliable sources of information, its construction was initiated in 1892 on the order of Sai Das. It is commonly called a Hindu temple, but some village elders believe that the mandir was built by the Sikh community. However, historians refute these claims; they associate Toomri Mandir with Hindus alone, yet acknowledge Sai Das as its founder.

In fact, Toomri Temple was a stronghold of the Hindu community in the region. Besides Hindus, it was also regarded as a holy place by Sikhs and Muslims. Sai Das had followers among Muslims who regarded him as their pir [spiritual guide], Sikhs called him their guru and Hindus as their Gosain.

After his demise, his son Baba Ravanand became the successor caretaker of this mandir and played a pivotal role in managing the temple with full support from the prince of the state, Raja Sundar. Hindus from Baddoki and other areas used to come to this temple to learn from Baba Ravanand.

Toomri Mandir is dexterously built on a platform surrounded by a square shaped pond. The total area of the complex, including the pond, is about 5,625 square metres or 1.4 acres. A bridge over six red-tiled arches connects the main edifice of the temple to the carpeted road. The bridge divides the pond into two parts. The pond itself is entirely made of Mughal era bricks. Lush green banyan and peepal (Ficus religiosa) trees cover it from all sides.
To enter the floor of the pond, there are 10 stairs on all four sides. There is also a walled enclosure (locally called ‘piyala’) built in the northwest corner of the pond, most likely used by women. A canal structure to bring water to the pond is also constructed on the bank of the pond from the north side which, according to villagers, is directly linked to a well that was located near Miran Saab (a small village).
The pond adjacent to the temple is enveloped with 10 stairs on all four sides | Instagram

The pond adjacent to the temple is enveloped with 10 stairs on all four sides | Instagram

Two mighty pillars are also built with space in between, for the inflow of water. This is all reminiscent of the peak era of Mughal constructions. At the back of the mandir, there are palm trees that add more grace to the temple grounds. On the same side, lies a 100-year-old cemetery from the pre-Partition era.
The perpendicular structure of this old temple is indubitably an architectural masterpiece. The skilful engravings on the building exterior leave visitors in awe to this day. The green marble work on the corridor floor inside is equally captivating. The red tiles, patched up delicately in different styles around the temple, add to its beauty.
Riaz dolefully says, “The actual timeline of the mandir’s ruin begins with the demolition of Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992, when, in retaliation, a large mob of Muslims attacked this spectacular mandir and pulled down many of its side buildings and some parts of the main complex too.”
A 90-year-old man named Noor Hassan, who had migrated from Shadipur in India to the historic town Baddoki Gosaian after Partition, tells Eos that there used to be a gold steeple on top of the mandir that was stolen years ago. He also points out that a well on the south side of the mandir that supplied water to the temple is also gone now. Noor says, “For more than 55 years, I have seen the temple pond full of water. It has sadly dried up over the last 20 years, and this has dulled the beauty of this remarkable building.”
The temple used to house a gigantic idol inside that Hindus worshipped. There was also a smaller house of worship called Raam Laas at Baddoki. There was also a Shamshaan Ghaat (crematorium) in the southwest of the village, where Sai Das also received his last rites. Riaz explains that the three varieties of trees found at the ancient temple’s site — banyan, berry and peepal — have distinctive spiritual value in Sikhism, Islam and Hinduism respectively.
Mian Mohammad Khan, who also possesses a great deal of knowledge about the Toomri Temple and has been living here since Independence, says that people used to bathe in the temple pond in order to have their wishes fulfilled. A big fair used to be held at the temple, known as Jhag Da Mela. People would come from afar to fulfill their mannats (spiritual promises). There also used to be a Langar Hall (food hall) opposite the mandir that has completely vanished now. “Hindus and Sikhs in the past used to make annual pilgrimages here,” Raiz says. “However, we do not see any Hindu or Sikh here any longer.”
Riaz expresses his wish that this heritage site be handed over to Hindus for its proper conservation. At present, it is a hub for tourist recreation, with a huge crowd of TikTokers shooting their videos here. People from distant areas come to this temple for photo sessions in front of the awe-inspiring artworks on the walls.
Marketing companies and various brands have also shot commercials here. Some Punjabi films have also chosen this as a location for some scenes. Renowned travel author and novelist Mustansar Hussain Tarar visited this splendid place in 2019 and mentioned this temple in some of his travelogues.
It is deplorable that the temple has fallen prey to sheer negligence and poor maintenance by the concerned authorities. Many times during local bodies’ elections, some key political figures have shown deep concern about its renovation. However, all their promises have always been left unfulfilled after the elections conclude.
Originally, the mandir came under the jurisdiction of the Auqaf Department, which too has dissociated itself from it. Whenever the relevant authorities have asked for its repair and maintenance, the department has simply cited a lack of funds. However, in the last three to four years, the DHA authorities have got this temple building and pond cleaned twice.
The writer is an educationist and freelance columnist based in Gujranwala.
 

Maea

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Its a real shame that most of our historical sites are in complete state of negligence. For example i live in the suburbs of Milan and our local church, wich is about 300 years old, is considered a site of national importance. Its really a small, simple church, nothing special yet it is protected by the government.
In Pakistan we have countless mosques, little forts, and other historical sites; yet the we dont do anything to protect them .
"A nation without any past doesnt have any future."(Quote from ig) .

I suggest that there should be local departments, working under union councils, which looks after these important pieces of our glorious history.
 

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