GUJRAT: Out of Gujrat`s walled city`s five historic gates, only Shahdauli Darwaza (gate) has survived the ravages of time, but the Mughal era relic that is still in its original shape badly needs preservation and renovation if the authorities concerned have any interest in the cultural heritage and history of this ancient town.
Currently, the adjoining rooms of the monument are occupied by local police where they have set up a picket since long. The roof of this gate had caved in around six years ago but instead of reconstructing it and restoring its original shape a temporary ceiling was constructed to keep the police picket functional at the site.
Local traders residing in the vicinity are of the view that had the relic not been housing a policepicket, it would have either been illegally encroached upon or vanished away like the other four gates of the old walled city.
They say the monument should be restored and preserved to keep the future generations informed of the city`s history and heritage.
Back in 1596-7, Mughal Emperor Akbar had got constructed a fort in Gujrat with five gates. All its inhabitants would reside inside the fort and at night, its all the five gates were closed and nobody was allowed to enter the city.
The gates were named Shah Daula Gate (Shahdauli Darwaza, named after famous saint Kabiruddin Shahdoula Daryai) in the East, Kabuli or Dhakki Darwaza) in the West (opening towards Kabul), Sheeshiyan Wala Darwaza, which was famous for the glass work on its roof) in the North, Kalari Darwaza (now named as Shah Faisal Gate) named after threevillages -Kalara Dewan Singh, Kalara Rahwala and Kalara Punawan -located in the South of the city.
However, known poet, critic and historian late Prof Sharif Kunjahi, had argued that since `Shishi` was a Scandinavian word for graveyard, there might have been a graveyard near the gate giving it the name. The fifth such gate was known as Timble Darwaza which is next to the Shahdauli gate.
Basharat Lodhi, a local civil society activist, deplored that instead of restoring the historical sites like Shahdauli gate of the city, the local administration got constructed a new gate naming it `Bab-i-Gujrat` He said there was nothing wrong with building new `monuments` but first the historical sites shouldhavebeenrestoredbylocal authorities by involving archeology department.
District Coordination OfficerLiaqat Ali Chatha told Dawn that he had recently constituted a committee tasked with restoration of the gate. The body, he said, had so far held two meetings on the issue.Punjab archeological department would also be approached with a request to adopt the restoration project since it was a historical site which should be preserved.