QUOTE(harunkhalid @ Jul 7 2008, 12:49 PM)
Cultural Heritage Research Initiative
A briefing on the discovery of
THE EARLIEST SURVIVING ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENT IN LAHORE
Prof. Rizwan Azeem - Architect
on July 3, 2008 at Lahore Press Club, Lahore
The earliest surviving architectural monument at Lahore remained another controversy. Recently a monument has been studied for taking the architectural history of Lahore almost 200 years back. This monument is older than the buildings generally mentioned as the earliest in Lahore (Tomb of Musa Ahangar at McLeod Road or Newen Masjid in the Walled city, both reported to be from Lodhi period).
Hinjarwal, near Niazbeg on Lahore Multan Road
Latitude: 31.1180556 Longitude: 73.9944444
Hinjarwal is located on Multan Road at about 9 km from the District courts of Lahore. The old village is now surrounded by new housing colonies and industrial units developed along Multan Road. The traces of old structures, serai and a paved water tank can still be found to the south of Multan Road. The large graveyard belongs to the local inhabitants and open spaces around the tombs, mosque, and other buildings are used as a community place for religious ceremonies and functions. The Tomb of Dada Hinjar Pir is situated at a central location in the graveyard, somewhat detached from other tomb structures built in later periods. This tomb has remained a place of respect and annual Urs ceremonies have been attended by the residents and visitors alike.
Since the settlement has been populated by Khokhars, Dada Hinjar Pir is considered the patron saint and founder of Hinjarwal. After the British annexed the Punjab in 1849, it was decided to document the salient social, economic and historical features of all the villages in the province. The work was accomplished by the district settlement offices in 1868. Hinjarwal do appear in these records and it was mentioned as an agricultural area populated mainly by Khokhars, and the name is said to be derived from the earliest settler, Dada Hinjar who came to this place from Multan. The record says that the area remained deserted for many years and was established during the times of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan (1628-58).
It is possible to search the clues for the antiquity of this important monument from comparative analysis of few architectural features remained intact in the original structure. Some historic evidence may be extracted from the events took place in the vicinity of Lahore during the period ascertained for the construction of the tomb. There are convincing verification from the style and form of the building as well as from the historical accounts of turmoil in the area that the original structure belongs to a time much earlier than the customary statements available from oral traditions and revenue record.
Let us start by an insistence on the linkage with Multan. The name of the village seems to be a derivation from Seraiki word Hinjira which means a domed structure associated with a burial place. It is used in place of mazaar or rouza or khanqah normally having religious and spiritual underpinning and frequently visited as a shrine. Hinjira, on the other hand remains deserted due to its location in remote graveyards,
The signs of architectural style more or less follow the classic description given by Late Dr. Ahmad Nabi Khan for the characteristics of Multan Tomb Style developed during the period corresponding the Mamalik/ Sultanate at Delhi. These are:
1. Three storey with circumambulation gallery atop the first storey,
2. Sloping wall often strengthened with corner turrets,
3. A high and pronounced drum surmounted by a grand hemispherical dome, which is crowned with an elaborate finial,
4. Naked brick surface, both from exterior as well as interior, which is embellished with faience or faience-mosaic: and
5. Wood courses or wood framing used within the brick core for the purpose of resilience.
Few other common features of the buildings constructed in this region during the period are:
1. Predominant frame structures for doors protruding from the rest of the wall, with crenellation or merlon (kaqngurah) on the top,
2. Cut-brickwork decoration on walls,
3. Multiple squinches in the corners to make a transition from square plan to an octagonal drum for the round dome above,
4. Lattice work in wood (jali) for interior illumination,
5. Elaborate woodwork with geometric patterns on the three entrance doors and decorated mehrab towards the ka’aba (south-western) side.
It is perhaps not possible from the surface of the structure to reveal the entire original characteristics but the sloping walls are obvious and clearly seen in the pictures taken recently. Multiple squinches in the corners are also evident but now covered with recent mirror-work. There are protruding frame structures for doors on each side of the square building. The crenellation is however not visible as the roof of the outer gallery structure has been resting on them from all sides. One of the wooden doors has been salvaged and kept by the custodians and tells the missing links of the intriguing story. It is a remarkable piece of traditional workmanship. The door frame is rather small in size, four feet by six feet, two panels meeting in the centre with a decorated central shaft, and the whole surface is covered with elaborate geometric design in relief. The door frame is made of sturdy pieces of wood six inches by six inches in cross section. The motif of five merlons has been reproduced on the upper left and right corners of the frame as if telling the truth otherwise concealed by recent constructions. It is a marvelous piece which could become the prized collection of any museum, but I have requested the custodians to adorn the building again with this priceless handiwork of devotion and reverence.
Now remains the exact dating of this monument. As it is already mentioned, it is only possible to search the clues from comparative analysis and historic evidence from the events took place in the vicinity of Lahore during 1192 to 1526 AD, the period of the Ghorid, Mamalik, Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodhi Sultans at Delhi. We may shorten our quest by another accepted rule in the documentation of architectural history in South Asia. This building is earlier than the works executed during the Sayyid and Lodhi dynasties (1414 to 1526 AD). Noted scholar Percy Brown (and further endorsed by Subhash Parihar) writes:
“…these square buildings have no sloping walls, all the lines and planes are true vertical. The two and three storeys forming their elevation are not definite floors, but merely arcaded zones introduced as architectural decoration to their facades. These facades are so designed as to have the central portion in the shape of a rectangle, projected and containing a large recessed archway occupying nearly the total height of the structure almost to the parapet.”
On the other hand, the architectural monuments from early Sultanate period are characterised by an absence of the skill in the construction of true arch, calligraphic panels in Kufic script carved from stone or bricks, extensive use of Hindu craftsmanship and an profusion of wall decorations. None of these elements are found here and the arches or squinches confirms a refined skill of arch or actuated system of construction. The period of construction therefore, corresponds to the Tughlaq dynasty’s rule in the sub continent, i.e. 1320 to 1413 AD.
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