Zafar Iqbal Mirza > Last Man In > Part One


Lahore and Lahories

The Chelsea of Lahore

TWO years ago to the day, a very dear friend of mine gave me a book, which has been lying unread on my shelf-a lapse of which I am truly ashamed.

          Printed by Packages Ltd., it is titled Lahore  ka Chelsea , a posthumous collection by Hakim Ahmad Shuja. It is a fascinating account of the Walled City. Let me share part of it with you today.

          According to Hakim Ahmad Shuja, the Fort existed within the confines of Tibbi and situated in its suburbs was the Royal Mint, the Royal Arsenal, and mansions of the members of the Mughal Court. Miani was situated between Chowk Dara Shikoh and Tibbi. Today, it is a sprawling graveyard. The very name Miani conjures up visions of a burial place.

          In days gone by, most of Lahore was located in and around Miani. This part of the city started from Nawan Kot and went up to Bhati Gate on the one side and from Mozang (whose real name is Mah Zang) to Ichhra on the other.

          Chowk Dara Shikoh was the name of that part of Lahore, which started from the Delhi Darwaza to Shahu ki Garhi to the Mausoleum of Hazrat Mian Mir on one side, and from Buddhu ka Awa to Baghbanpura on the other.

          The Hakim Sahib says that he has given these details in order to establish the importance of the area called Tibbi, which includes parts of the old city from Bhati and Taxali Gates and from Haveli Dhyan Singh in Hira Mandi to Masti Gate.

          Hakim Ahmad Shuja says that the real name of Bhati Gate was Bhatti Gate-the place where the warring Bhattis had set up camp after the conquest of Multan before the Mughals established their empire in South Asia. With the passage of time, it came to be called Bhatti Gate.

          Leaving the historic importance of the place aside, the Hakim gives an account of those activities on the basis of which Dr. Ashiq Husain Batalvi re-christened it the Chelsea of Lahore. As you enter Bhati Gate and walk down a little, you will find a place called Kucha Patrangan to your left. Some sixty, seventy years ago (the book was published in 1988 and Hakim Ahmad Shuja must have penned his account much earlier. So now, you may read eighty, ninety in place of sixty, seventy years ago).

          In this kucha  lived orientalists like Dr. Maulvi Mohammad Shafi and Maulvi Asghar Ali Ruhi, whose lessons in the Holy Quran were respected everywhere. He started a class in Quranic readings in Gumti Bazar. He was a man of unimpeachable integrity and a shining example of the Islamic way of life.

          Dr. Maulvi Mohammad Shafi who later rose to be the Principal of the Oriental College, Lahore, lived in the kucha  when he was a student and later when he was associated with the Normal School, Lahore. The Maulvi received early instruction in Arabic and Persian from Maulvi Asghar Ali. He used to admit that but for Maulvi Asghar Ali, he would not have attained the eminence that he achieved and enabled him to do invaluable research work on Persian and Arabic literature.

          The list of Maulvi Mohammad Shafi's research work is too long to be reproduced here. Suffice it to say that he spent his early life in the literary environment of Bhati Gate.

          Among the old teachers of the Oriental College, some of the names are recalled with respect even today. Call it coincidence or Bhati Gate's great good luck . . . all these luminaries lived there, perhaps because it was situated close to the Oriental College.

          In its early years, the Oriental College was housed in Haveli Dhyan Singh. A brief history of this institution would be in order here. When the British established their rule over the Punjab, they took steps to promote Oriental Studies. For this purpose, they set up the Anjuman-i-Punjab. It was founded on January 21, 1865, and Dr. Leitner was the moving spirit behind it. Under the aegis of the Anjuman and under the guidance of Dr. Leitner, the Majlis-i-Uloom-i-Sharqia was formed the same years.

          A school for Oriental studies was established at a place in Hira Mandi, where the Lahore Siksha Sabha had started a patth shala  (school) where instruction was imparted in Hindi and Sansikrit. Urdu, Arabic and Persian were added to the curricula. This place used to be right in front of the Mazar of Hazrat Pir Naugaza where later the Lahore Municipal Corporation constructed a hospital.

          Until March 1872, the place was called the School of Oriental Studies, which was later turned into a college. After some time, Haveli Kharak Singh was acquired for the College. This Haveli was situated near the Nehal Chand temple. In 1873, the College was shifted to a rented building in Anarkali. In 1876, at the completion of the Government College building, its northern block was reserved for the Oriental College. Dr. Leitner was appointed its founding Principal.

          At the time, Maulvi Faiz-ul-Hassan headed the Arabic, and Maulvi Abdul Hakim Kalanuari the Persian section. Mufti Mohammad Abdullah Taunki used to live in Bazaar-i-Hakiman in Mistri Haji Mohammad's house.

          Ahead of Kucha Patrangan is a street called Naiyon ki Gali -The Barbers' Street. In this gali lived , advocate. In those days if you were an advocate, you were regarded an expert in jurisprudence. Sheikh Gulab Din belonged to Sialkot. He had such command over Urdu that he translated the laws of evidence and contract into the language.

          As you move up from Naiyon ki Gali, there is Mohalla Jalvatian to the right. Across this mohalla is the house where Allama Iqbal lived for years. This was followed by Cho Mohalla in which the Khatib of Unchi Masjid, Maulvi Ilm Din used to live. He was famous for his ecclesiastic knowledge. Also lived here (when Hakim Ahmad Shuja wrote this account) the Katib  of Badshahi Mosque, Maulana Ghulam Murshed, who has been praised by Iqbal himself for his erudition and wisdom. His Quranic lessons are to this day beacon lights for the followers of the righteous path.

          After Cho Mohalla to the left of the bazar is Nur Mohalla, and to the right was Mohalla Shish Mahal. In Nur Mohalla lived Syed Mohammad Shah, the prominent lawyer. He first set up his law practice in Multan, but later shifted to Lahore and constructed a magnificent house out of his hard-earned income. Dr. Mohammad Husain, who had migrated to Lahore after the 1857 disturbances, lived in Mohalla Shish Mahal. He, along with Dr. Rahim Khan whose mansion was situated close to the Traders Bank on Dhani Ram Road near Anarkali, were regarded as two of the best doctors of their time. Dr. Mohammad Husain was Honorary Physician and Dr. Rahim Khan the Honorary Surgeon to the Viceroy. Dr. Mohammad Husain's eldest son, Munshi Ahmad Husain Khan, the author of more than two hundred books, was a prominent novelist and poet of his time.

          As you moved ahead of Mohalla Shish Mahal, you came across the mansion of Rai Bahadur Mela Ram, which was unique in its grandeur. The mansion has since been demolished. Rai Bahadur Mela Ram and after him his eldest son, Rai Bahadur Ram Saran Das, were greatly respected by the people. Father and son were Sanatan Dharami Hindus and were aristocrats of the old school. They were not men of letters themselves but patronised writers and poets.

          The contractors who built the Lahore Railway Station were Mian Suttan of Landa Bazar, Mian Mohammad Baksh of Mochi Darwaza, Dal Gar, and Rai Bahadur Mela Ram. The Lahore-Amritsar railway service began in 1880.

          Rai Bahadur Mela Ram and Ram Saran Das used to celebrate Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh festivals with great aplomb. There would be singing and dancing at their Lal Kothi outside Bhati Gate to which everyone was invited irrespective of his creed. Among the invitees used to be Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Sir Abdul Qadir, Sir Shahabuddin, Raja Nirendra Nath, Raja Sir Dia Kishan Kaul, Nawab Liaquat Hayat Khan, Nawab Ahmadyar Khan Daultana, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, Mian Mohammad Nasiruddin Khan, Syed Maratab Ali, Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia and Sardar Joginder Singh. They were one happy group. But it all sounds like a dream now.

          Sir Abdul Qadir lived in Moti Tibba. Across the street from him lived Khalifa Nizam Din, who was an accountant in the North Western Railway Headquarters. He was known for his shrewd accountancy. In the same street lied Maulana Abdul Hakim Kalanauri. A little ahead and to the left of Moti Tibba is Pir Bholay ki Gali where in a corner house lived Dr. Allah Din, the self-effacing but generous physician known for his treatment of young children. He was greatly popular among the poor.

          Before he left for England, Mr. Miran Bux, bar at law, alias General Miran Bux, used to live in Jogi Mohalla. He started his law career with a famous British lawyer, Mr. Rattigan and later with Mr. Reynolds who was the son of the writer, George W.M. Reynolds, who rose to fame with his book Mysteries of the Court of London .

In the same Mohalla lived Munshi Tahiruddin, who started his career as an assistant in Mian Sir Mohammad Shafi's law chambers. When Sir Mohammad Shafi shifted to Delhi after being nominated to the Viceroy's Executive Council, Munshi Tahiruddin advised Allama Iqbal to move to the Anarkali house where the former had set up his law practice. Sir Mohammad Shafi turned over the cases he was handling to Allama Iqbal in which task Munshi Tahiruddin gave him invaluable help.

          Later, Munshi Tahiruddin evolved an all-purpose medicine, Dil Roz , which brought him great fame. He won his way into Iqbal's heart by sheer hard work so much so that the poet named him in his will together with two other friends as the court of ward for his children and his estate.

          In his neighbourhood also lived a young man, Mohammad Tufail by name. He was greatly interested in calligraphy. This young man was later to bring out the famous and in many ways unique magazine in Urdu, Naqoosh , from Aibak Road, Lahore. Some of its editions will be of great value to those who are in search of reference material on the history of modern Urdu literature.

Adjacent to Sheikh Saddo's Mausoleum in Bhati Gate is Mohalla Kaghzian in which Mir Nazim Hussain used to live before he moved to Kucha Faqir Khana. In this street also lived Mian Husain Bux Pehlwan, who was not only a wrestler but also the keeper of the King's peace. For as long as he lived, there was no theft, no brawl in the Mohalla. No roughneck had the courage to cross the Pehlwan-such was his physical prowess.

          Across the Mohalla Kaghzian is Kucha Lal Haveli in which lived Faqir Syed Shamsuddin and Faqir Syed Nuruddin, when the Sikhs were in power. After their death, Lal Haveli was divided into two parts, Faqir Syed Qamruddin living in one and Faqir Syed Shahabuddin in the other.

          After Kucha Lal Haveli comes Kucha Darbar Sahib. It has a mosque with an attached house in which are kept relics received by Faqir Syed Azizuddin from Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk. The devoted recited verses from the Quran day and night here. Close by lived Hafiz Mohammad Hafiz who was a prominent Qari of his time.

          Close to the Kucha Lal Haveli is Pehlwan ka Kucha, where one of the most celebrated wrestlers of the Punjab, Mohammad Hassan, better known as Hassa Pehlwan, lived. His son, Hassan Mohammad, became the right-hand man of Maulana Mohammad Ali in Indian politics and later became the secretary of the Bhopal Legislative Council. He spent his youth in the streets of Bhati Gate.

          Kucha Darbar Sahib is situated in Bazaar-i- Hakiman. Four houses had special significance in this bazaar. One belonged to Hakim Ahmad Shuja's Hisamuddin, whose son, Hakim Aminuddin, was among the first Muslim men of medicine to visit England. He studied law there and set up a practice. This was the house in which Hakim Ahmad's father Hakim Shajauddin, founded the Urdu Bazm-i-Mushaira in 1895. Iqbal, then a student at Government College, Lahore, read one of his ghazals at the second mushaira  organised by the Bazm.

          Hakim Hisamuddin practiced tibb both in Amritsar and Lahore. It won't be wrong to say that life in Katra Hakiman in Amritsar and Bazaar Hakiman in Lahore revolved round him. He was the special Hakim to the Maharaja of Kashmir and to every ruler in the Phulkian states. He had an uncanny diagnostic ability but so God-fearing and austere was he that people came to him, seeking his blessings more than his medicine.

          Across from this house lived one of Hakim Ahmad Shuja's cousins, Hakim Shahbaz Din, in another house, which was an important meeting place for poets, men of learning and politicians. It was a kind of literary club. From 1885 to 1922, men of letters and politicians gathered here every evening. Among those who frequented Hakim Shahbaz Din's baithak  (sitting room meant exclusively for male company) were Maulvi Ahmad Din and Master Maula Bux. Once in a while, Sir Mohammad Shah Din, Sheikh Gulab Din, Mufti Mohammad Abdullah Taunki, Maulana Mohammed Hassan Jullundri, Maulvi Asghar Ali Ruhi, Syed Mohammad Shah Wakil, Sir Abdul Qadir, Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Khwaja Rahim Bux, Khwaja Karim Bux, Khalifa Nizam Din, Sir Mohammad Shafi, Faqir Syed Iftikharuddin and Mirza Sultan Ahmad would also visit the place.

          The founding fathers of the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam such as Haji Shams Din, Khwaja Ahmad Baba, Maulvi Hakim Ali, and Khalifa Hamiduddin would also visit the place and discuss the educational problems facing the Muslims.

          Side by side with Hakim Shahbaz Din's house was the residence of Hakim Ahmad Shuja's father, Hakim Shujauddin. He was a prominent hakim, philosopher, and poet of his day. His disciples seeking guidance in tibb or philosophy crowded the house.

          The fourth important house in Bazaar Hakiman belonged to Faqir Syed Iftikharuddin. He was an important member of the Faqirkhana and a high official. Therefore, mostly bureaucrats frequented his house.

          A feature of Iftikharuddin's social life was that Hindu and Sikh Members of the bureaucracy or old friends of the family were as welcome as Muslims. Among these were Lala Har Kishan Lal, Sardar Dayan Singh Majithia, Chaudhry Sultan Ahmad (Faiz Ahmad Faiz's father), Mian Nasiruddin (nephew of Nawab Imam Din the subedar  of Kashmir), Syed Iqbal Ali Shah, and Sir Maratab Ali (grandson of Nawab Imam Din).

          Whenever in Lahore, Faqir Syed Iftikharuddin would invite his guests to evenings devoted to poetry and literature. Apart from the people named above, the big landlords and members to the Punjab aristocracy would never miss an opportunity to visit the Iftikaruddin's house when in Lahore.

          Chaudhry Sultan Ahmad lived with his elder brother, Chaudhry Nabi Bux, in the Bazaar Hakiman. Apart from being a barrister, he was greatly interested in mathematics in which subject he did his tripos from Cambridge. Impressed by his great ability, the Afghan ruler of the time appointed him his finance minister.

          Mirza Sultan Ahmad was a bureaucrat who was also a man of letters and had a discerning taste. When Ibbotson, the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, spewed poison against the Muslims in a report, Mirza Sultan Ahmad, then only an Extra Assistant Commissioner, demolished his case in a well-reasoned tract and rose in the estimation of his Muslim compatriots. He also lived in the same house. Faqir Iftkharuddin would, occasionally, persuade Iqbal to come to his place. Iqbal's presence always added glitter to the literary gatherings.

          Faqir Iftkhar's eldest son-in-law, Faqir Syed Najmuddin, who was Hakim Ahmad Shuja's nephew, had great respect for Iqbal who also regarded the former as a brother. To perpetuate the memory of his affectionate relationship, Faqir Syed Najmuddin's son, Faqir Syed Waheeduddin, wrote a book in two volumes, Yadgar-i-Faqir , which is as interesting as it is full of information and is greatly valued by all devotees of the poet-philosopher.

          Faqir Iftikharuddin's younger brother, lqtidaruddin, who did not live with him, regarded poetry as part of his heritage. He used to come up with a new ghazal  at every mushaira  held at Hakim Aminuddin's place. Faqir Qamruddin, an elder of the Faqirkhana whose house was called Lal Haveli, lived the life of a recluse but was held in esteem in official circles. He was not a bad poet at all and used Qamar as his poetic name ( takhallus ).

          Now we enter Kucha Astana Sharif. In it was Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), constructed by Faqir Syed Jamaluddin. Attached to the mosque was a small graveyard. The founder of the Faqirkhana family, Faqir Syed Ghulam Mohyuddin was buried there. He was known as Nausha-i-Sani. In this graveyard were also buried Faqir Syed Azizuddin, Faqir Syed Imamuddin, Faqir Syed Nuruddin and Faqir Syed Shamsuddin.

          In this Kucha is also situated the Imambara founded by Sir Maratab Ali Shah's wife, Syeda Mubarak Begum, together with the ancestral haveli  of her father, Faqir Syed Iftikharuddin. Attached to this mansion is the haveli of Faqir Syed Imamuddin who was the Subedar (governor) of the Gobindgarh Fort during the Sikh period. Across it, in Faqir Syed Hafizuddin's Haveli used to live Mirza Azam Baig, an Old World aristocrat. His son, Mirza Aslam Baig, had a penchant for poetry and held a high place among Mir Nazim Hussain Nazim's pupils. After his father's death, he came into so much money that he came to be known as "Lukh Lut" (The Great Stealer).

          This loot enabled Mirza Aslam Beg to finance his poetic pursuits. He established a Mehfil-i-Mushaira in his haveli , which was presided over by his own mentor, Mir Nazim Hussain Nazim, and where mostly the latter's pupils recited their verses. Faqir Syed Imamuddin's grandson, Faqir Syed Saeeduddin was the secretary of this Bazm. He was also one of Mir Nazim Husain's disciples and was not a bad poet. He lived in the same kucha  in his grandfather's haveli .

          It may sound surprising in this age where merit is spurned, says Hakim Ahmad Shuja, that Mirza Aslam Beg turned the house of his mentor into a home of affluence. The Bazm died with Mirza Aslam Baig. It may not be out of place to mention here that the real cultural centre where Iqbal and other seniors named in this account was Hakim Shahbaz Din's baithak  in Bazaar Hakiman, where serious literary and national problems were discussed. The evenings at Mirza Aslam Baig's Bazm were concerned mainly with wine and women.

          Near this kucha  is mosque, built by Hakim Ahmad Shuja's grandfather Hakim Abdullah Ansari. He also founded Bazaar Hakiman and built a mosque before he built a house for himself. In front of it was Hakim Khuda Bux's haveli , which has since lost out to Time, but in its ruins, his grave survived. He was a great hakim of his time and was known everywhere for his generosity and riches.

          A few paces ahead is Kucha Faqirkhana on the left of the bazaar. Here lived Faqir Syed Zafaruddin and in front of his house across the street lived Mirza Nazim Husain Nazim. Close to this place was the Imambara  and house of Faqir Syed Hassanuddin. The house used to be under the occupation of his elder son-in-law, Syed Syed Ali Shah who was an amateur artist but leading painters used to learn the technique of the art from him.

          Syed Syed Ali Shah painted nature. He had a phenomenal memory and he was virtually an encyclopedia of the work of the master poets. In his company, one felt that the door to the mysteries of nature had been thrown open and in front of you was the muse of poetry in high spring. He lived to be 120.

          As we continue our exploration of Bazaar Hakiman, we find to our right the haveli of Faqir Syed Azizuddin, which was inherited by his son, Faqir Syed Jamaluddin. It was later converted into an Imambara . At a little distance away was Kucha Tehsil, which used once to have the court of the Tehsildar  of Lahore. Across the street from the Kutchery  was a house in which the owner of Darul Ishaat and the women's magazine, Tehzib-i-Niswan , Syed Mumtaz Ali lived. Maulana Mohammad Azad also lived in this neighbourhood for some time.

          Across this kucha  was a place, which used to be called Sammion ka Bazaar. In this bazaar, Sir Shahabuddin had his home and printing press and the Haveli of the famous historian, Syed Mohammad Latif. He was a session judge and the bazaar was renamed after him. Another senior citizen who lived here was Maulvi Abdul Ghani who had served as a judge in Lucknow. Agha Hashr lived for a number of years in the house of Maulvi Abdul Ghani's nephew, Mian Shamsuddin. Hashar's wife died here. A little ahead of this house was the residence of Prof. Abdul Ghani who rose to become Principal of the Islamia College Lahore. He was noted for his Shakespeare lectures. The Judge Bazaar was followed by Tibbi Bazaar. Aristocrats of the Mughal and Sikh periods used to live here but later it was taken over by nautch girls. However, it also had a grand mosque and the Madrassah Naumania, where Islamic teachings were imparted to young people.

WHERE this bazaar (Tibbi) ends is Sheikhupurian ka Bazaar on the left. There is another bazaar to the corner where Maulvi Moharramm Ali Chisti, the editor of the newspaper Rafiq-i-Hind  used to live. The Maulvi grew in stature over the years and such was his hold over local affairs that he came to be known as the kingmaker because he could get anyone he wanted elected to the Lahore Municipality.

          Later, he shifted to a grand mansion situated behind Hira Mandi. A disciple of Hazarat Mastan Shah Kabuli, the Maulvi was a writer and poet of merit and patronised men of learning. There used to be frequent literary meetings at his place and so great was his hospitality that ulema  and their disciples from all over India used to camp at the Chisti mansion. At the beginning of his career, he was strongly opposed to the English language as a medium of instruction. Therefore, he resisted Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's efforts in this regard.

          Close to the Chisti house was an old Haveli in which lived Mirza Abdur Rahim. His eldest son was Mirza Mohammad Said. Prof. Langhorn, of the Government College Lahore, used to say that he knew of no Indian teacher or student who had better command over the English language than Mirza Mohammad Said.

          Hakim Ahmad Shuja was a student of Said Mirza's at the Central Model High School. Later, Mirza Sahib joined the Indian Education Service and was appointed professor of English at the Government College. He wrote two novels in Urdu, Khwab-i-Hasti  and Yasmin , both of them of considerable literary merit. He also made a name for himself by translating essays by the English masters for Sheikh Abdul Qadir's magazine, Makhzan .

          Mirza Sahib belonged to Delhi. After partition, he came to Karachi where he died at the age of 80 in 1965 or 1966. Since he spent the best part of his early life in Bhati Gate, to that place must belong the credit for his rise to prominence.

          In the Bazaar Sheikhupurian, right up to Katri Sheikh Azizuddin, were the houses of courtesans most of whom were famous for professional excellence. In the Katri close to Masjid Ayaz lived a scion of the Mughal rulers, Mirza Arshad Gorgani by name. He was a poet of considerable merit and prided himself on his literary pursuits. Young poets of his day took inspiration either from him or from Mir Nazim Husain Nazim.

          It can be said with a reasonable measure of certainty that Nazim and Gorgani were among the pioneers of popularising the Urdu language in the Punjab. Among their contemporaries was Maulana Mohammad Husain Azad, who tried to give Urdu poetry a new direction in which he was ably assisted by Gorgani and Nazim. Iqbal used to take instructions from Dagh by post but in Lahore, he always presented his ghazals to Mirza Arshad Gorgani for improvement.

          In the middle of the street, which takes you from Tibbi Chowk to Hira Mandi, is Haveli Dhyan Singh. This street also was inhabited mostly by nautch girls. Ahead of the Haveli Dhyan Singh, the street forks into two lanes, one leads to Chowk Surjan Singh via the Lahore Water-works and the other to Chuna Mandi through Barud Khana. It was in Chuna Mandi that the Raja of Sheikhupura, Dhyan Singh, used to live. In Bazaar Barud Khana lived two noted men of learning, Mian Shamsuddin and Mian Nizamuddin. Their house was a refuge for poets and writers who partook of the two Mians' hospitality in ample measure.

          Mian Shamsuddin's younger brother was Mian Jalauddin's son and the elder brother of Mian Aminuddin, a former governor of the Punjab. Mian Mohammad Aslam, the novelist, was the son of Mian Nizamuddin. Prof. Mohammad Din (M.D) Taseer who was Principal of the Islamia College, Lahore, for a number of years and who wrote in Urdu and English with equal ease, also belonged to this family and lived in Barud Khana.

          Also in this Bazaar lived Hakim Yusuf Hassan who was the editor-owner of the popular magazine, Naairang-i-Khayal . He was a writer, a hakim and a khaksar , always in the vanguard of every Islamic movement. In order to popularise the Urdu language, he reduced the price of his magazine to such an extent that he lost everything. The Hakim was the best of the figures who lived in Bazaar Barud Khana and made it famous in the world of literature.

          Ahead of Barud Khana and behind the Fort was an open field, known as the Ghati. It used to be a camping ground for Mughal troops. It led to Moti Bazaar, which begins from Chowk Surjan Singh and goes right up to Masti Gate. Here lived the noted hakim , Syed Buzurg Shah who was endowed by God with a healing touch.

          In the Walled City, only a handful of families were known for their hikmat (the system of Islamic medicine). Hakim Ahmad Shuja's family held a place of prominence in this field. Most men of this family were hakims . The other noted family was in Moti Bazaar, founded by Syed Buzurg Shah. His son, even though he was a barrister, was also known as Hakim Syed Abbas Ali. The third noted Hakim family of Alam Shah lived inside Shah Alam Gate and the fourth was the family of Hakim Syed Maratab Ali and Hakim Syed Nawazish Ali. They lived in Rarra Telian in Mochi Gate. Hakim Syed Nawazish Ali lived to be a hundred. Hakim Syed Bahadur Shah lived in Chuna Mandi. He was personal physician to Raja Dhyan Singh.

          Although Lala Hakim Rai and Bhai Wasti Ram were noted exponents (veds) of the Indian system of medicine during Sikh rule in the Punjab, most Hindus took to allopathy when the British annexed the province and there were very few Muslim doctors trained in the Western system of medicine.

          Consider it lucky for Bhati Gate, says the Hakim Ahmad Shuja, that after the turmoil of 1857, Maulana Mohammad Husain Azad, son of Maulvi Mohammad Baqar, the editor of Delhi's oldest newspaper, migrated to Lahore and started to live in Tehsil Bazaar, Bhati Gate. Azad was a man of great learning.

          He was almost immediately picked up by the Directorate of Education, Punjab, for which he did a tremendous job. After serving the Directorate in several capacities, Maulana Mohammad Husain Azad joined the Oriental College in 1877 and was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Arabic. The same year, he was given the title of Shamsul Ulema by the British Indian Government.

          Maulana Azad's literary feats need no introduction. He laid the foundations of the Urdu literary tradition in the Punjab. Aabi-i-Hayat , Nairang-i-Khyal, Qisasul Hind  and Darbar-i-Akbari  are among his best books, which have earned for him a permanent place of honour in the history of Urdu literature.

          His greatest contribution to the promotion of Urdu in the Punjab, however, was in the field of writing textbooks for students. He was commissioned to do so by Col. Holroyd who was at the time the Director of Education, Punjab. It can be said without fear of contradiction that the textbooks written after him followed the style set by him but they were not of the same order of excellence to which Azad belonged.

          Urdu poetry also owes him a whole lot. He departed from the beaten path in ghazal  and laid the foundations of natural poetry in the language. Poets at the mushairas  held by the Anjuman-i-Punjab stopped singing of the mole on the cheek of the beloved, of her flowing tresses, of love and beauty, of separation and union. They became students of the wonders of nature.

          Towards the end of his life, he left Bhati Gate and took up residence with his son, Agha Mohammad Ibrahim, who used to live in a house situated behind Haveli Nawab Sahib in Akbari Gate. It was here that he died in 1910.

          Another notable figure who lived in Bhati Gate was Sir Abdul Qadir. He spent his early life in Moti Tibba. Born in Ludhiana in 1874, he graduated from the Punjab University in 1894. In 1895, he became editor of the first English language newspaper brought out by the Muslims in the Punjab. It was called The Punjab Observer .

          In 1896, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan held a function in Lahore to introduce the Muslim Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, to the Punjab. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was greatly impressed by Qadir's proficiency in Urdu and began calling him Maulvi Abdul Qadir.

          With "Maulvi" Abdul Qadir, Urdu became a magnificent obsession. He devoted his life to just one thing - to implant Urdu, which had been uprooted from Delhi and Lucknow in the Punjab, and to give it a new dimension and fresh vigour.

          He started the magazine, Makhzan , in 1901 from Mian Husain Bukash's house situated across from Faqir Jamluddin's haveli in Bazaar Hakiman, where he lived. The title of the magazine used to carry a map of India in three colours, each one depicting areas where Urdu was spoken, where it was just understood and where it was the mother tongue of the inhabitants.

          Makhzan  rose in popularity and prestige with each new edition and re-established and refurbished the tradition set by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Deputy Nazir Ahmad, Nawab Mohsinul Mulk, Syed Ahmad Khan Dehlavi, Maulana Shibli, Maulana Hali, Maulvi Chirag Ali, Syed Ali Bilgrami, Abdul Halim Sharar, Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar and others who nurtured Urdu after the 1857 uprising.

          Makhzan  brought together such luminaries as Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Chaudhry Khushi Mohammad Naazir, Mirza Ejaz Husain, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Sheikh Mohammad Akram, and Tilk Chand Mehrum.

          Literary meetings were held where these people would gather together and give of their best in prose and poetry. Makhzan  was a kind of official record of the proceedings of these meetings.

          Later in 1919, Hakim Ahmad Shuja founded Hazar Dastaan  on more or less similar lines. Contributors included Ahmad Shah Bokhari (Pirtras), Syed Abid Ali Abid, Syed Imtiaz Ali, Hadi Hasam, Hamid Husain Khan Baidil, Abdul Majid Salik, Pandit Sudarshan, Akhtar Shirani and others. Abdur Rehman Chughtai used to illustrate the magazine in his own inimitable style. Needless to say that this magazine, too, came out from Bhati Gate's Bazaar Hakiman.

          But to return to Sheikh Abdul Qadir. He went to England in 1904 and returned home two years later with a law degree. In 1921, he became a judge of the High Court. A year later, he rose to be the President of the Punjab Legislative Council and was knighted in 1925. He returned to the High Court in 1930 and became member of the Viceroy's Executive Council in 1939. He retired from public life in 1945.

          During all these years, Urdu remained his first love. His devotion to the language can be gauged from the fact that when the University of the Punjab started M.A. classes in Urdu in 1948, he became an honorary professor and taught at the Oriental College at the age of 72. He died on February 9, 1950.

          Sir Shahabuddin also lived in Mohalla Sammian in Bhati Gate. He was born in the backwaters of the Punjab but rose in station by dint of sheer hard work. He joined the police service for a while after graduation in 1900. He then taught at the Islamia College, Lahore for some time. He took a law degree in 1910 and started bringing out a magazine, The Punjab Criminal Law Journal , in 1912.

          Encouraged by the success of the Journal , he undertook to publish Indian  Statutes and Cases . He participated in Lahore's social and political life of the full and was the Mayor of the city for a number of years. He was for 22 years the president of the Punjab Legislative Council.

          Sir Shahabuddin was a great champion of the Punjabi language and was a poet of great standing. His translation into Punjabi of Hali's Musaddas is so excellent that it reads like an original work of art.

In Tehsil Bazaar there was another street called Bhabron ki Tharrian, in which lived three brothers, Khawaja Rahim Bakhash, Khawaja Karim Bakhash and Khawaja Amir Bakhash.

          Since the three were venerable gentlemen of modest means, they could not become public figures but they were the leading lights of the literary meetings held at Hakim Shahbaz Din's baithak .

          The Khawaja brothers had an eye for talent and had a forthright style of literary criticism. They chiselled many young men of their time into writers and poets of recognised ability. Allama Iqbal would never read any poem from a public platform unless he had shown it to the three brothers. Poems Nala-i-Yatim , Hilal-i-Eid, Tasvir-i-Dard, Sham-o-Shaair  were first approved by the meetings of the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam.

          Khawaja Rahim Bakhash's son, Kahwaja Ferozuddin, Barrister-at-Law was Allama Iqbal's brother-in-law ( ham-zulf ). He made a name for himself as a great lawyer.

          Khawaja Abdul Majid, the author of the voluminous dictionary, Jame-ul-Lughat , was Khawaja Karim Bakhash's son. The dictionary is a proof of Majid's wide range of knowledge and understanding. One wonders how could he take time out of his numerous official engagements to author this magnificent book, which is a treasure trove of Urdu literature.

          Across the street where the Khawajas lived, resided Pundit Raghbir Dyal Jotshi and Dr. Hira Lal. The Pundit was an expert astrologist consulted by Sir Shahabuddin and thousands of others from all corners of the Punjab, who flocked to his house for a full fifty years.

          Dr. Hira Lal was a renowned surgeon of his day. The allopathic system of medicine had not yet caught on but even so, Dr. Beli Ram, Dr. Hira Lal, and Dr. Nihal Chand, Dr. Rahim Khan, and Dr. Mohammad Husain were known names in the Lahore of Hakim Ahmad Shuja's youth.

          In Dr. Hira Lal's neighbourhood lived Dr. Daulat Ram who was known for his affectionate treatment of Muslims. He wouldn't charge any fees from even well to do Muslims. He used to say: "Rich Muslims are also poor while Hindus, even if poor, are rich. I get all the money I need from my Hindu patients."

          Dr. Daulat Ram was an eye-specialist. His father, Lala Kirpa Ram, was the first man in Lahore to set up a lens-making factory. He had learned the art of lens making from Dr. Caleb who translated the Gita into English. Lala Kirpa Ram took great pains at having it published. According to some critics, says Hakim Ahmad Shuja, Caleb's translation is much better than Lokmania Tilak or Annie Besant's efforts.

          Ahead of Tehsil Bazaar and near Bazaar Said Mittha lived Rai. Sahib Lala Madan Gopal and Pandit Prabhu Dat Shastri. Both were Hakim Ahmad Shuja's teachers. The latter was endowed by God with a great intellect. He had done his master's in several subjects but Sansikrit and philosophy were his main areas of interest. He did his doctorate in Germany and was appointed Principal of the Oriental College, Lahore, in 1912. Soon afterwards, however, he joined the Indian Education Service and left for Calcutta.

          Rai Sahib Madan Gopal taught the English language at the Central Model High School in Lahore but later became Headmaster of the Railway Technical School where he died with his boots on.

          In 1885, Ahmad Shuja's father, Hakim Shujauddin, laid the foundations of the Bazm-i-Mushaira, held every week at the house of Ahmad's elder brother, Hakim Aminuddin. The poetry read there was published by the monthly Shor-i-Mehshar , edited by Dr. Mohammad Husain's son, Khan Ahmad Husain Khan who was himself a novelist, a writer and a poet of merit. He later brought out a magazine, Shahab-i-Urdu  that became greatly popular in literary circles.

          There were two groups of poets who used to confront each other at these weekly mushairas ; one was led by Mirza Arshad Gorgani who belonged to the Delhi School and the other by Mir Nazir Husain Nazim who preferred the Lucknow style. This Delhi-Lucknow clash used to remind people of the days of Anis and Dabir. It is interesting to note that in those days, a Mirza and a Mir joined literary battles even in the Punjab.

          The following list of the people who were present at the inaugural mushaira  of the Bazm held almost 106 years ago and published by Shor-i-Mehshar  will show how popular Urdu had become at the time.

          The first mushaira  was held at lofty residence of Hakim Aminuddin, Barrister-at-law, on November 30, 1885. It began at 6 p.m. with around three hundred devotees jampacking the place in addition to the following gentlemen:

1.      Hakim Shujauddin Shuja, Mir-i-Mushaira (President)

2.      Nawab Ghulam Mahbub Subhani Mahbub.

3.      Mirza Abdul Ghani Arshad Delhavi.

4.      Munshi Mahbub Alam, proprietor, Paisa Akhabr .

5.      Munshi Abdul Aziz, manager, Paisa Akhbar .

6.      Lala Mohan Lal Matlab, Niab Mir-i-Mushaira (vice-president)

7.      Mir Nisar Ali Shohrat.

8.      Maulvi Ahmad Din, B.A., pleader

9.      Lala Dhanpat Rai, B.A., L.L.B.

10.    Munshi Miran Bux, Barrister-at-law.

11.    Mir Nazir Husain Nazim.

12.    Lala Manohar Lal, B.A.

13.    Mirza Mehbub Beg, B.A.

14.    Pandit Sukhchain Nath Dar, M.A.

15.    Lala Gobind Ram, Rais-i-Lahore .

16.    Lala Dilbagh Rai, proprietor, Albert Press, Lahore.

17.    Sheikh Danishamand Suqrat, M.A.

18.    Munshi Lal Majbur.

19.    Mirza Abdul Husain Arif.

20.    Hakim Shahbaz Din.

21.    Faqir Syed Zainul Abedin, pleader.

22.    Munshi Ghulam Husain Shaida.

23.    Shahzada Mohammad Ali Shahzada.

24.    Agha Sultan Ali Karbalai.

25.    Sardar Ganda Singh Mashriqi.

26.    Maulvi Abdul Rauf Khan Rafat Bhopali, editor Paisa Akhbar .

27.    Faqir Syed Iqtidaruddin.

28.    Khalifa Nizam Din.

29.    Hakim Aminuddin, Barrister-at-law, Secretary (of the mushaira ).

30.    Munshi Ahmad Husain Khan Ahmad, Assistant Secretary.

The mushaira was attended by Amir Ahmad Amir, at the time tutor (in poetry) to the Nawab of Rampur.

          According to Dr. Ashiq Husain, Agha Hashr also lived in Bhati Gate. This, says Ahmad Shuja, is true to the extent that whenever he brought his troupe to Lahore, he would stay in a house adjacent to the Hari Kishen Theatre outside Bhati Gate where his plays were staged.

          But when he came to Lahore for his wife's treatment, he stayed with Hakim Ahmad Shuja and later in Mian Shamsuddin's house in Judge bazaar.

          Later, when he came to float his film company, he again stayed with Hakim Ahmad Shuja for a while before shifting to a bungalow at Race Course Road, which was the place where he died.

          Agha Hashr spent most of his life in Bombay and Calcutta. When he was in Lahore, he had little time to spare for taking part in the city's literary activities because he was writing all the time, among the plays he wrote in Lahore are Sufaid Khan, Khwab-i-Hasti , and Aankh ka Nasha .

          Hashar's wife died in 1916. He took this loss to heart and left Lahore for Benares (now Varanasi) where he fell gravely ill. He returned to Lahore in the early thirties, regained his health but not his verve. As he himself wrote.

Kho chuka jo josh taqat phir milay dusawar heh

Hashr ab sehat meri girti hui divar heh.

The end came on April 18, 1935. He was laid to rest by the side of his wife's grave in the Maini Sahib graveyard.

          Hakim Ahmad Shuja received his early education at the Central Model High School, Lahore. He recalls his teachers with great reverence. Among these were Maulvi Syed Ahmad Kabir, Lala Madan Gopal, Maulvi Ghulam Rasul Qureshi, Pandit Prabhu Dat Shastri, Lala Sukh Dyal, Maulvi Abdullah Khan, Mirza Mohammad Said, and Prem Nath.

          Among the headmasters were such distinguished men as Rai Bahadur Shiv Dyal, Rai Bahadur Sunder Das Suri, Mr. Langhorn and White.

          To conclude: I have devoted five weeks to Hakim Ahmad Shuja's small but invaluable book because I have a longer, more ambitious project in mind. I want to write a social history of Lahore since the annexation of the Punjab by the British to the present time. Innumerable names have appeared in his narrative. Should their grand sons and great grandsons read these lines, they may please contact me so that I may share with them such parts of their family histories as they want to share with me and which they are willing to permit me to chronicle.

Note: This is a series of 5 articles published in Dawn from Friday, March 8, 1991 to Frida, March 15, 1991