The shrine of Madhu Lal is undergoing a facelift after all
Mela Chiraghan or the "Festival of Lights" is ranked among the most popular around Asia. Shalimar town, Lahore, gets clogged with thousands of followers from all over the country who flock to the winding streets and sloping terraces of this part of the city in the last week of March, to pay their respects to Shah Hussain, a Sufi saint who lived during the Mughal era. The path leading to the shrine gets choked with devotees jostling for space.
Keeping in view the problems faced by the people and to facilitate them in performing their congregational affairs in a better way, the government of Punjab has recently started a project of converting the shrine which, at the moment, comprises a small tomb and a wide open area, into an elegant complex where there would be several facilities for the masses coming from all over the country. The revamped place promises to provide a better environment and venue to the devotees.
"The Shah Hussain Complex is being designed after the fashion of the Data Ganj Baksh and Bulleh Shah compounds," says Dr Ghafoor Shahzad, chief architect at Auqaf. "It will enhance the capacity for the people to gather at the shrine as the previous one would become very congested."
Shahzad reveals an open corridor is being built around the shrine and what he calls a "Samma Hall for qawwalis… and a Langar Khana".
Verses of Shah Hussain will also be imprinted on different walls in the area. The mosque that was renovated almost a year and half ago will also be made part of the complex.shah
"A piece of 34-kanal land and some hundred feet are being renovated," adds Chaudhry Javaid Ahmad, Chairman, Religious Affairs Committee of Shah Hussain shrine.
"Only one of the three gates is open; the others have already been closed due to security reasons and because the devotees faced space problems."
Javaid is of the view that the extension or renovation plan should be focused on the solution of the problem. "I am afraid it doesn’t look like it is so," he declares.
Maqsood Ahmad, a contractor of the project, tells TNS that Rs18 million were approved (for the renovation-cum-expansion plan) last year also but "due to some official hazards, the project was dropped.
"This year, an amount of Rs10 million has been provided which isn’t sufficient to complete even the basic design."
However, Ahmad is hopeful that his contract will be renewed into the next financial year.
He says that a corridor which is 30ft wide and 21ft high will be constructed. The total covered area in square feet amounts to 6,000.
According to Hamid Masood Warraich, Director Projects Auqaf, the project is expected to be completed by June 2014. Next phase might be carried out in the next financial year if required.