The medieval walled city of Lahore is under threat from a construction frenzy. The glorious multi-cultural architect and traditions of the British era are also facing the brunt of plaza and shopping market builders.
Lahore, with a rich history is a main cultural centre of Pakistan. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains an economic, political, transportation, entertainment, and educational hub.
Lahore is referred to as the cultural heart of Pakistan as it hosts most of the arts, cuisine, festivals, film-making, music, and intelligentsia of the country. Known for its affiliation with poets and artists, it has the largest number of educational institutions in Pakistan and some of the finest gardens of the continent. Lahore has always been a center for publications, where 80 percent of Pakistan’s books are published and remains the foremost center of literary, educational and cultural activity in Pakistan. It is also an important religious and spiritual center as it is home to hundreds of temples, mosques, and shrines like Data Darbar complex, Mian Mir Mazar.
Poet of the East Allama Dr Mohammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Zaheer Kashmiri, Soofi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, M.D. Taseer, Ahmad Rahi, Qateel Shifai, Hahib Jalib, Ustad Daman, Chiragh Hassan Hasrat, Mazhar Ali Khan, Saadat Hassan Manto, Muneer Niazi, Nasir Kazmi, Dr Nazeer Ahmad, Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad, and scores of other poets, novelists, short-story writers, critics, great musicians and all sorts of artistes lived and died in this great city. They all have left an everlasting imprint on the history of the city.
One of the great English language writers and the first English Nobel Prize Winner Rudyard Kipling lived for five years in Lahore – those were the most crucial years of his development as a writer. This rich confection of a city, whose great Mogul buildings and street life evoke the deep hues and sensuality of a miniature painting, was where the teen-aged Kipling cut his teeth as a newspaperman. Lahore provided the setting for some of Kipling’s greatest stories, as well as the raw material for his somewhat misunderstood view of the East and the West. Lahore was the heart of Kipling’s India. Between 1882 and 1887, he worked there as the assistant editor of The Civil and Military Gazette, combing the back alleys of the old, walled city for stories.
Like the Irish street urchin, Kim, the hero of his greatest novel, Kipling used Lahore as a base to explore the rest of the sub-continent.
The Civil and Military Gazette was published from a building on the Mall Road, Lahore. One could see Kipling’s name on a bronze plate on the outer wall of the building facing Mall Road till the mid sixties. The building as well was the Civil Military Gazette’s record was purchased by the owners of a textile mill. It was a very sad day for the lovers of the Lahore city, its historical heritage, culture, literature, architect and serene environment, when this beautiful building was demolished one retrieved the name plate of this great writer from debris of the building in the mid-sixties.
Manto’s flat at Laxmi Mansion Lahore on sale
It is an enormous tragedy that as the world celebrating centenary of Saadat Hasan Manto (May 11, 1912 – January 18, 1955), undoubtedly one of the best short-story tellers of the 20th century, and one of the most controversial as well, his descendents have decided to sell his famous flat of Laxmi Masion in Lahore.
The destruction of last earthily abode of Pakistan’s and Urdu language’s one of the greatest short-story and sketch writers would be a great national loss.
The creator of ‘Thanda Gosht,’ ‘Khol Do,’ ‘Toba Tek Singh,’ Iss Manjdhar Mein,’ Mozalle, and ‘Babu Gopi Nath.’ Manto had moved to Pakistan in January 1948 from Bombay and settled in a flat of Laxmi Mansion in Lahore situated in the vicinity of the Mall Road.
Laxmi Mansion attracted many notables of that time. Among the pre-partition residents were Chaudhri Zafrullah, the first foreign minister of Pakistan, and Mani Shankar Aiyar who later became an all important petroleum minister of India and deputy high commissioner to Pakistan.
The famous writer and critic Tajwer Najeebabadi and his sons also resided there. Professor G.M. Asar and Mohammad Baqir, the grandson of Maulana Mohammad Husain Azad, were permanent residents of Laxmi Mansion. The well-known actress Khursheed Shahid along with her actor son Salman Shahid lived in the same mansion, and at a later stage famous politician Meraj Khalid also moved to Laxmi Mansion and lived there till his death