que Wazir Khan crumbling

wazirThe Archeology Department has to pay special attention to preserve all monuments in the province as these are the precious asset of a nation, said Muhammad Hafiz, an official of the Auqaf Department during a survey conducted by The Post.

The que Wazir Khan under Circle No 4 of the Auqaf Department is one such structure, he added.here are 151 shops and houses attached to the que. The department had rented the property to generate income. Some 94 shops out of 151 were leased out while the remaining 57 remain dilapidated.

The official said the department earns Rs 70,000 to Rs 85,000 per month with a 15 percent increase in rent made after every three years. He said all amendment work was earlier performed by the Archeology Department three years ago, after which it stopped. "There is a need for more amendments to maintain the sources of income," he added.

When asked, the contractor of show-preserving told The Post that amendment work was at its best during the tenure of Khan Wali-ul-Lah Khan, the then DG Archeology, as compared to the current DG Shabhaz Khan. "These shops which have now been closed down following their dilapidated status were at that time a great source of income as Wali continued his amendment work the whole year," he added.

The famous que Wazir Khan was established in 1634 AD during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shahjhan by Ilam-ud-Din Dinansary, commonly known as Nawab Wazir Khan, the then Governor Lahore. It was completed in seven years, built as it is with small bricks laid in Kanker Lime with a sprinkling of red sand stone. The bazaar consisting of 22 shops form an integral part of the que. The shops are in two parallel rows with a brick-paved passage in-between.

The que area is 279.5 feet by 159 feet out of which the prayer yard is 131.3 feet by 42 feet. There is also an ablution tank in the centre of the courtyard covering an area of 35.3 by 35.9 feet, flanked by 32 small cells (Hujras). The open area of the east of the que complex measuring 150 by 102 feet is known as Chowk Wazir Khan. Its original floor still exists about 5 feet below the present ground level. The drainage in the Mughal regime was by means of "Charkies" (wells) which now are non-existent owing to the negligence of the concerned authorities. The Chowk had four big gates of which two still exist.

Local Raheel told The Post that the outside of the que remains swarmed with professional beggars and drug addicts, who sleep in its arched pathways. The fresco work was renovated last year by the artisans of the provincial archaeology department with an aid of US $ 31,000 provided by the USA for its conservation but food remains, name engraving, dust and lack of security has now become its trademark. Apart from the foreign aid, the provincial archaeology department also claimed spending millions of rupees on conservation and preservation of monuments sponsored by the World Bank, the Punjab government and some other agencies but the current reality begs to differ on that score.

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