Majid Sheikh Lahore: Tales without End

ISBN 13: 9789693521443

Lahore: Tales without End

 
9789693521443: Lahore: Tales without End
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Short Stories on Partition, Lahore culture, Hindus, Muslims, social issues

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About the Author:

Majid Sheikh is a freelance columnist writing for leading English-language newspaper. A working journalist since 1971, having worked in Pakistan, Britain and Europe. He is also a professional researcher and analyst in economic, financial and entrepreneurial affairs.

Review:

Hamid Sheikh was in love with Lahore. He was a walking encyclopedia of the city and carried with him tales which either had been documented or were part of the lore. He had paid attention to what he heard from his elders, and so it seems has his son Majid Sheikh. The book Lahore, Tales Without End is a selection from the articles that he wrote in Dawn and it comprises some information which has been documented and much that has not really been documented, except in the tales and stories that people tell each other as part of a living tradition. He has built the case of Lahore as a tolerant place. This ancient city after witnessing many civilizations, many religions and numerable rulers has developed a culture of tolerance that only comes with maturity and an awareness of change being the touchstone of reality. The history of Lahore too reads like a story, half-fact and half-fiction. Other than the oral tradition, certain references to documents have been made though. Lahore Qadeem by Mufti Tajuddin published in the Oriental College, 1867. Sharif ibn Muhammed ibn Mansur's Adab al Hard Waal Shuja compiled in 1236, Sarwar Lahori's publication in 1877 and Kanhaiya Lal's Tareekh e Lahore. One enduring myth had been about the river Ravi, and this may have had to be so because of its importance. Life of the city has depended on the abundant water supply that the river could dispense with. The enduring myth that there lay buried deep in the river bed a treasure has inspired attempts from time to time to dig out that treasure. As late as the dawn of independence a plan to dredge the river by a foreign company was abandoned because it was feared that the gold would be dug up and taken away. It was planned to line the sides of the River Ravi from the Indian border to the city and beyond. A massive embankment on both sides as well as to develop the city in a planned manner was the dream of Zafarul Ahsan, the first deputy commissioner of Lahore after independence. It was meant to make the river the centre of Lahore much in line with the way the city had developed before the coming of the British. But with the transfer of Zafarul Ahsan the plan was dropped. Even similar attempts later to revive that plan by building embankments for twenty miles, with a one mile by twenty mile lake to prevent the eastward slide of the city, to bring the walled city to the centre have never seen the light of day. Every book on a city has to begin from its origins. Probably the oldest remains of the old city called Lahore were in Mohalla Maulian for till the nineteenth century Lohari Mandi was known as Kacha Kot -- the mud fort. This could well be the famous mud fort that was built by Malik Ayaz, the first Muslim Governor of Lahore. This is probable because in recorded history the main entrance to the mud fort was from the Lohari Gate. But the origins may even go further back into antiquity for in the Ramayan, a pregnant Sita located during her second exile in the Ravi area gave birth to son Loh or Lahu who was reared on the mound probably in Lahore. The temple of Loh still exists inside the fort. --The News on Sunday, 25th Feb 2007

The Lahore of Kacha Kot era has continued to expand in three major leaps, each with a four hundred year gap. The eras of Raja Jaipal, Akbar and Ranjeet Singh marked the high point of the expansion. The determining features of the expansion of the walled city have been how and when the Ravi has changed its course, the existence of the Lahore Fort and how power has flowed from the rulers, the manner in which the population and economy of the old original walled city has changed over time depending on invasions, droughts and famines. During the times of Akbar the original wall on the western side to the right of Bazaar Hakeeman in Bhati Gate and on the eastern side to the left of Shahalam Gate existed. It then curved eastwards and formed a city that was kidney shaped depending on the flow of the curving river Ravi. The book is divided into sections, dealing with the history of the city, great personalities and that of significant events that had a bearing on the way the city developed later. Some of the personalities, of course, made a name by giving to mankind spiritual or physical comfort, some others survived the tide of history, ironically even hustlers, scoundrels, marauders and land grabbers are remembered through the names of localities. Legend has it that the Nizamuddin Aulia experienced Basant in Lahore during his visit to the shrine of Data Gunj Buksh and willed that his disciples celebrate life and spring with the same gusto as was done in latter's city. And since this has been a practice at the shrine of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi with kite flying, feasting and recitals of classical music. It is also assumed that Amir Khusro flew a kite on either receiving his pir or when he had recovered from illness. The book can also give rise to debate. It is generally assumed that Mubarak Haveli is in Mochi Gate and is the waqf property of the Qazilbash family. It was the Mubarak Haveli that was built by Mir Bahadur Ali, Nadir Ali and Babar Ali courtiers of Muhammed Shah. Mir Bahadur Ali was blessed with a son and it was henceforth called the Mubarak Haveli. In the same haveli Ranjeet Singh kept under surveillance Shah Shuja ul Mulk and forced him to surrender the Kohinoor diamond. In the book it is stated that Mubarak Haveli is in Bazaar Hakeeman and now has reverted to the original owners, the family of Syed Babar Ali after being in the possession of the Qazilbash family. Both these havelis besides sharing the name are also now imambaras. Such matters which may have more than one explanation should rest with historians and scholars. The book's capacity to generate debate cannot be denied. --The News on Sunday, 25th Feb 2007

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