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June 4, 2016

20,000 visit Shahi Hammam in five months

Lahore

June 4, 2016

LAHORE

The number of visitors including foreigners is constantly increasing at the newly-conserved Shahi Hammam, which is now termed one of the most visited sites after Lahore Fort in the provincial metropolis.

Data collected from Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) revealed that during the first five months of the corresponding year almost 20,000 people, including 3,000 foreigners had visited the site situated inside Delhi Gate every month. Officials said Shahi Hammam was conserved by the WCLA and Aga Khan Trust for Culture in 2014 and it was opened for the public. They said gradually the monument became popular which was dead previously.

Shahi Hammam is a public bath built in 1634 by the Mughal courtier Wazir Khan. WCLA’s historians said Wazir Khan was known for curing diseases and became very close to Mughal Emperor Jahangir after he treated an incurable disease of Noor Jehan. They said the public bath was then named after Wazir Khan and on the same path the beautiful mosque of Wazir Khan was also built in the subsequent years.

WCLA’s conservationists said at that time Shahi Hammam offered facilities like bathing, massage, spa and sauna. Historically and geographically the existence of Hammam made sense at this place because most of the travellers entered Lahore through Delhi Gate and got themselves fresh up in the Hammam.

They claimed that historians believed that there was a rest house (Wazir Khan Sarai) opposite the existing Hammam, which provided facility to the travellers for staying overnight. They claimed that the Sarai was demolished in Sikh era and its remained vanished after a heavy flood struck Lahore at that time.

Following its increased popularity, a new trend of bridal shoots is also picking up at Shahi Hammam, which has become a good source of extra revenue generation for the WCLA. So far over two dozen bridal shoots had taken place at the site during the last marriage season.

The Hammam was perfectly managed and must be a fashionable service for travellers and public at that time, said Tanya Qureshi, a senior WCLA official. She said the historians believed that there were attendants who welcomed the visitors inside the Hammam and informed them about the services being offered. Hair cutting, trimming, manicure and pedicure were also provided to people at that time, she said.

She said the ticket of Shahi Hammam is Rs50 per person and WCLA kept the rates at lower side so that the general public can visit this historical site with ease. She maintained that the timing of Hammam has changed in summer and now it opens at 8.00am and closes at 8.00pm. She added in summer most visitors came during evening hours.

Director Marketing WCLA Asif Zaheer said that the authority had removed almost 52 shops from outside the Shahi Hammam to reveal its original glory and Aga Khan Trust for Culture added to its value with the funding of Royal Norwegian Embassy. “We give free guided tour of the Hammam to all the tourists and a documentary showing the history and conservation of Hammam is also aired before the tourists visiting the monument,” he revealed.

Director General WCLA Kamran Lashari said that he was very glad that the citizens had found interest in this heritage site. “We have recently opened a cafe and a souvenir shop inside the Hammam for the tourists, which will add further life to the Hammam,” he concluded.