It is really relaxing to sit on a bench at a beautiful place with railway track on the one side and your children playing in a clean, densely grassy ground on the other. The dwellers of Shahdara Town which once meant the "passage for the King" have such a facility in their area now.
The ambiance of the Mughal premises in Shahdara town has been vastly improved by converting six acres of land near the royal tombs of Emperor Jahangir, his wife Queen Noor Jahan and brother-in-law Asif Khan, into a green park named after Jahangir. The facility is likely to give recreational opportunities to the residents of the town, thus proving to be a blessing in disguise.
A park with so many facilities is the first of its kind in this part of Lahore. There is a jogging track and two badminton courts to encourage active lifestyle among the young. To quote Muhammad Asif, who is there for a jog, "I was born here [in this town] and until the age of 30 I had never seen this kind of good work being done for the people of the area.
"It has served to engage the youth of the area in a healthy activity."
There is an open gym in the park as well. Perhaps its best feature, it holds great attraction for the young lads. Boys who want to be fit and pump iron try to make it to the park before anyone else. Ejaz and Asad, two teenagers who are busy in the gym, believe such facilities should be set up all over the city.
As the evening approaches, people of every age start flooding the park. "It’s hard to find space at this time," says Salamat Ali, the head gardener of the park.
Ali estimates the number of daily visitors to be above 1,000.
Families can be seen sitting on benches, children with bright smiles jump and play on and around the see-saws and swings.
One can also randomly find gypsies who inhabit the area and children who cannot afford such recreations; they now have some place at their disposal also.
Eight years old Atif expresses his joy by saying, "I can take the swing and go as high as I want to." He runs away with his friends immediately afterwards.
People from other areas of the town also benefit from the facility. Ghulam Nabi, who is in his 30s, often comes to the park along with his wife and two daughters all the way from Vandala road.
"My daughters are very much fond of the swing ride. I am thankful to the government for providing us with the park in our area."
Jahangir Park was created in 1993 but it took 21-odd years for it to be improved to its current condition. Salamat Ali, 57, has looked after the place as a supervisor ever since it was established. He tells TNS that the work is "in progress.
"We have demanded more benches as people visit in large numbers," he says. "The management has also made a demand for flood lights in the evening."
Anees, a young member of a staff of six complains about the behaviour of the visitors. "We have to dispose of four large bags of litter thrown by the people on a daily basis. The quantity increases on Sundays as the number of visitors goes up."
He stresses on the need for the visitors to be more civilised.
The upgradation of Jahangir Park has also created economic opportunities for the people. A number of vendors can now be witnessed around the park carrying eatables and toys for children.
Perhaps, the only flaw in the park is that it is without any trees. Mudassir Ejaz, Deputy Director PHA has an explanation: "Special attention is being given to horticulture work by encouraging plantation of native species of flowers and plants to harmonise the cultural atmosphere of the area."
He is hopeful that the facility will help increase the flow of tourists towards this historical neighbourhood and provide recreation to the local inhabitants.