Recently the government of Punjab has inaugurated the facility of tourist bus in Lahore, the first of its kind in Pakistan. The primary, stated, objective is to promote tourism with the secondary objective of having a cut piece in newspapers in favour of the CM and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N). For me, however, the primary reason is the media attention and I have several reasons for it that I would like to mention in this post.
The concept of tourist bus came from the developed countries where the places of historical importance are given adequate attention and are preserved with maximum possible care. Such is unfortunately not practiced in Punjab. Because it’s a Shahbaz Sharif initiative, let’s talk about the developments after 2007 when he was sworn in as the CM for second time. Luckily I started my tourism activity in the same year. Wandering in Punjab and then to northern areas has been my passion from the day I started earning coins. At that time, I was living in Multan which is known to be among the oldest cities of subcontinent. The Multan Fort that is now a park with some ruins left. It is dying a slow death. I have heard that there is some committee that is working on the possible framework (still the framework) to preserve the heritage.
Other than that, the forts in Punjab are all in terrible condition; particularly the UNESCO heritage Rohtas Fort that has witnessed no improvement in the past 7 years. Similarly, countless historical sites inside Lahore are neglected. The most interesting among all is an abandoned Sikh Gurdwara located just 5 km from Jati Umra. This Sikh gurdwara is a perfect example of religious bigotry and negligence towards our heritage.
While searching about the historical background of this antediluvian site I found this interesting piece.
When Jagat Guru came to village Pajian from Manga, the villagers initially welcomed him but later made fun of him. Jagat Guru left the village and stayed at this place outside the village. Some follower asked Guru Dev Ji as to why he had moved out of the village. Guru Ji said those were “Paji” (mean) and hence the village cane to be called Pajian and -the mound came to he known as Manak. It subsequently developed into a big village.
The 3-storeyed building of Gurdwara had been built beautifully and it was spacious. The complex incJudpd a Langar Hall, Prakashasthan, inn, foyer, and a diwan hall built like a haradari. There were Samadhs of Udasi Sadhus and a water tank close to the shrine. The tank has now become a stagnant pool. These buildings are in the process of decay and may become a heap of dust. The central building collapsed during the last two years.
82 ghumaon of land has been gifted by villagers to the Gurdwara. The Jats of this village belong to the same grandfather. Some of them were converted to Islam, others became Sikhs while the rest remained Hindus. Visakhi fair is held and during the fair the villagers are not allowed to cook in their homes. All, irrespective of their religion, take food from Langar. It is managed by Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus alternately for one day. After 1947 a girls school was housed in it but later on the premises was left vacant. When refugees from Mewat arrived they were settled here and they did not bother to maintain it. Floral designs on the walls were erased. It was followed by the caving in of roofs. Now the walls too are falling apart.
When I visited that gurdwara with my friend in 2012 it had a wall that indicates the government land and within it a poor Christian family was residing. A two-storey wall, a doom and a room was all that is left of that historical land. I wish that someday the CM of Punjab, while traveling on his helicopter, can see that a historic place just beneath his nose is dilapidated and I wish he gives more importance to the real and original work to preserve it, instead of doing fancy deeds to get a one-day coverage.