By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali
LAHORE, Oct 25 (APP):The heritage is tangible and intangible existence of contemporary narrative of the past events, activities of a particular period or era having full range of inherited traditions including sculptures, objects, monuments and the cultural evidence.
Likewise the heritage means preservation, excavation or displaying of a collection of old things, including items, objects, social and cultural behaviours.
Including ideas and memories, the heritage makes sense of the wide range of moods, norms, beliefs, songs, languages, rituals, and many other incidents and events that show how we identify ourselves through the mirror of history.
According to a document of the Punjab Directorate General of Archaeology, dating from the lower Paleolithic period to Mughal empire, there are a number of archaeological sites in Pakistan, which describe that once the same had been the symbol of great and ancient civilizations.
Including official and private, there are almost 27 museums in Pakistan including Karachi, Hyderabad, Bhanboor, Moenjodaro, Harrappa, Multan, , Lahore, Science Museum, Islamabad, Peshawar, Taxila, Chakdara, Swat and Chitral Museum, it reveals.
History witnesses that before the partition of India and Pakistan, a large number of the Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus were the residents of Lahore.Specifically the Mughal era buildings of Lahore reflect a true serenity and royal specimen of art and architecture legacy.
Apart from Mughal era legacy, the cultural heritage also reflects a beautiful touch of Huns, Aryans, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Sikhs and British.Historical places including Royal Fort, Lahore museum, Fakir Khana Museum, popular havelis of walled city, tombs, mosques, garden parks, religious and holy places, Minar-e-Pakistan and University buildings catch the attention of locals and foreign tourists.
The ever largest private museum in South Asia, is considered to be a hidden treasure of art, calligraphy, manuscript, Chinese Porcelain, carpet master art-pieces, handicrafts and other precious heritage comprising three royal eras.
Famous Fakir Family of Lahore is running the private museum in an old mansion called ‘haveli’ which itself has got importance among the old buildings of Lahore.Fakir family of Lahore once had been the serving ministers of Sikh Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, who currently represent identity and indigeneity through showcasing and curating the Fakir Khana Museum.
The Fakir family members have symbolically emerged as serving custodians of heritage and history, by collecting and conserving the antiques, rarities and of course some special articles which are a great wealth comrising connoisseurs of art and artifacts.
Through conserving the treasure of classical and cultural-heritage, this family had earned a rich identity worldwide.This museum is located in Hakiman Bazar, Kucha Faqeer khana, Kucha Aastana Sharif near Bhaatti Gate in Walled City area of Lahore.
Fakir Khana Museum contains a wide range of gifts from Queen Victoria and Maharaja Ranjeet Singh exhibiting the cultural history and heritage of Punjab for the visitors.
These gifts were awarded to Fakir Syed Aziz-ud-Din and Fakir Syed Noor-ud-Din who were important ministers of the Singh’s court.
Talking to APP the Fakir Syed Faqeer Saif-ud-Din Bukhari.said that their family was proponents of interfaith peaceful contribution and co-existence.”As ministers of a Sikh Maharaja we had always represented active political citizenship, in the making and curating of the great museum, adding we had become the custodians of history and heritage, he revealed.
Conservation of this heritage had become the prominent identity of Fakirs’ family who had emerged as a symbol of royal brilliance, he added.To a query Bukhari said, “Fakir Khana houses over 20,000 masterpieces and artefacts of significance, adding often the visitors wonder how we had managed and ended up with a huge collection of valuable items.
He said that there were two main sources of acquisition of objects in the museum which included the valuable gifts presented to the three Faqir brothers, holding prominent positions in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s court by the Maharaja.
Three Faqir brothers of the family who had been affiliated with the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, had constructed a rich identity in specific ways through the possession, conservation and exhibition of artifacts, Bukhari said.
Bukhari said that the family had honour of immense pride to their credit that their three ancestors including great Fakir brothers namely Fakir Aziz-ud-Din, Fakir Imam-ud-Din, and Fakir Nur-ud-Din had been holding the illustrious positions in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Also it surprises a visitor how the antiques and rarities had been purchased by members of the Fakir family from time to time out of their personal capacity and pursuit for art and antiques.
The various portraits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and surrounding narratives witness the glorious time of the great Punjabi ruler through constructing, showcasing and understanding history indigenously.
The gift items presented by Maharaja to the three Fakir brothers on various occasions speak of the golden era rule very impressively.
It may be mentioned here that the visit to this museum is possible only through appointment and is not opened for the general public on a daily routine basis.
The history of the museum dates back to the pre-partition time and takes the visitor back to history to the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s era.
Director Conservation and Planning Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Najam-us- Saqib told APP that Lahore, being the capital city of Punjab was popular for its cultural festivals, bustling bazaars and witnesses renowned Mughal-era construction of several notable monuments and historical buildings. Historically, Lahore had once remained a centre of significant importance for being the axis of politics and power corridors in the subcontinent and had played an important role in making the history of Pakistan, he said.In this historic city, the resolution of Pakistan was passed and Lahore was important for being at a distance of 48 kilometers from the Indian city of Amritsar, he informed.