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Dribbling Through The Hourglass: The Baradari of Maharaja Sher Singh

Text & Photography by AOWN ALI

 

 

"baradari" - a summer residence, with 12 doors 

 

Maharaja Sher Singh (December 1807 - September 16, 1843) ruled the Sikh Empire from 1841 until his death. He was the third son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire, and Rani Mehtab Kaur. His reign - brought to an early end through treachery - produced a number of lasting architectural vestiges in Lahore, in addition to the baradari.

Located in the outskirts of Kot Khwaja Saeed locality of Lahore (Punjab, Pakistan), it is also known as the Baradari of
Shah Bilaval, after Sufi Saint Syed Shah Bilawal. His shrine also lies within the premises of the baradari.

Neglected for many decades, the baradari was almost completely destroyed in 1992 when mobs set it afire in misdirected retaliation for the destruction of the Babri Mosque in India by fundamentalist Hindus in 1992.

It is also said that some people removed the doors, windows and wooden structure of the roof before blazing it. Now the baradari stands altogether ruined and is occupied by a large number of drug addicts as squatters. Currently, the baradari is further threatened by ongoing construction and waste refuse from the Solid Waste Management which operates in the vicinity.

Immediately to the west of the baradari are the ruins of several samadhis where domed enclosures once housed the ashes of Sher Singh and his son.

The author is a photo-journalist based in Lahore, Pakistan.

 

October 21, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 21, 2011, 10:10 AM.

Very sad, but not at all surprising. Politicised Pakistanis, like their Indian counterparts, have pursued a short-sighted, narrow-minded view of the world - ultimately at their own peril!

2: Aman Kaur (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), October 21, 2011, 10:40 AM.

Thank you, Ali Sahib, for this revealing and daring piece ... and the brilliant photography. Would love to see more of your work on these pages. Khuda Hafiz!

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 21, 2011, 11:32 AM.

We need to somehow negotiate better access and monitoring of our heritage sites both in India and Pakistan.

4: Raj (Canada), October 21, 2011, 12:52 PM.

A nation without a state will never be able protect its culture, monuments and religion.

5: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), October 21, 2011, 1:05 PM.

Really a shame for not maintaining the historical heritage of the Kingdom of Ranjit Singh and his heirs. Moreover, many of these monuments are being destroyed by our own leaders - in Indian Punjab! Such as the original brick-wall where Guru Gobind Singh's younger sons were buried alive, which has now been replaced by marble wall in Sirhind, Punjab, India. Same in southern India at Hazoor Shaib, Nanded: the Ramgarhia Bungas built during Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time (next to the main gurdwara) is completely gone. No one knows this unless you see the old pictures and compare. The 'leadership' does not see any point in maintaining our heritage if there's no money in it for them.

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