A plan has been developed to preserve, beautify and reinvigorate the historic city of Rawalpindi, but will it see fruition?
Mandar Gali is a narrow street in Rawalpindi Saddar, named after a temple constructed before partition. The dome of the temple is still in its original shape, however the small room where the Idols were placed has become the drawing room of the people who now live there. The temple’s wooden doors have ornate designs on themthat are still in good condition.
Hindus were in majority in many areas of Rawalpindi and constructed them according to their traditions and culture. After the partition, these buildings were handed over to Muslims.
The temple in Mandar Gali was allotted to a Muslim namely Jamal ud Din (Late), who had migrated here from Ambala, India. Later it was transferred to his son Basheer ud Din and currently his son Zaheer ud Din and his family are residing in this temple. In the last few years a large number of such historical buildings have been converted into commercial ones, due to which this city is losing its history.
Umer Khitab, 70, resident of the Bagh-e-Sardaran area says that before partition two Sikh brothers had constructed a park along with a temple here. This whole area was actually that park, that why it is still called Bagh-e-Sardaran.
After the partition this park was taken over by the Auqaf Department. "I remember when I was a child we used to go to this park to play games." However, with the passage of time the population of this city increased, people occupied the land of the park and now it has become a commercial area where no mark of the park is left.
The temple near it that covers a large area is currently being used by the Police Department as residences for their staff, and public visitors are not allowed to go inside.
The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce (RCCI) and Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) has taken an initiative to revive and revitalize the glory of Rawapindi by renovating, reviving and preserving its historical buildings, bazaars, walls and sites.
The RCCI has named this project "The Glorious City - Rawalpindi" and formed a standing committee headed by former President RCCI,Asad Mashhadi to carry on this project effectively.
Asad Mashhadi says that foreigners who visit Islamabad do not have any historical and traditional place to visit, Rawalpindi is adjacent to the capital and has a rich history. It can become a tourist spot if we successfully brief the world about its history.
Mashhadi adds that initially the historical buildings located on Murree Road, which is the central road of the city will be renovated and the historical buildings on it will be painted in attractive colors so they look beautiful. Moreover, hotels will be improved to provide quality facilities to tourists who stay here.
He said that the district administration has insured us their support in this regard and a provincial minister has also ensured us that the historical temple will be taken from the government department and opened to visitors after the renovation.
Imtiaz Ali, a senior citizen, said that Rawalpindi city has a rich history but unfortunately the concerned authorities have never made any efforts to secure it. Construction without a plan has made this city congested and hard to live in. Rawalpindi can become an attractive tourist city,especially for Buddhist countries if the historical buildings are renovated and properly maintained.
Chairman of Parks and Horticulture Authority, Asif Mehmood, said that PHA has power but lacks financial resources, that is why an MOU has been signed with RCCI to help the beautification of city. In the first phase, 28 buildings have been selected which will be renovated while the metro bus track pillars will also be decorated by painting them in traditional truck art style. Moreover, a monument named "Bab-e-Pothohar" will be constructed at the entrance of the city at G.T road near Rawat.
Director Rawalpindi Division of the Department of Archaeology, Irshad Hussain saysthe department has only one declared historical site in Rawalpindiin Tehsil Kalar Saidan. Other than that the department has no data on how manyhistorical buildings, sites, monuments and religious places there are in Rawalpindi City.