–House attached to sitting place to be converted into library
–WCLA official says site will be a treat for tourists and book lovers
LAHORE: After being in a dilapidated condition and misused by the locals for years, Thara of Allama Iqbal in Bhati Gate, where it is said that he would sit with literary people and discuss the day to day and philosophical matters, is being conserved by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA).
The building connected to the thara will be converted into a library as well.
As per the details, Thara of Allama Iqbal had run down with the passage of time as locals were using it for sitting purposes while it was also being used by roadside vendors to set up their temporary stalls during the day.
“The owner of the property is not well off enough to get the historic site preserved on his own but has been kind enough to place a plaque reading ‘Thara Allama Iqbal’, so tourists can be made familiar with it,” sources told Pakistan Today.
A resident of Bhati Gate, Khursheed Alam, said that Iqbal had spent a few years in Old Lahore’s Bhati Gate and his last place of rest was also inside Huzoori Bagh. “This adds to the significance of the Walled City, but unfortunately, people have never bothered to pay any attention to the sites that were close to Iqbal’s heart.”
“I have witnessed the thara fall into ruin and think people should be educated about such places associated with Iqbal so that they are preserved and respected,” he added.
“There are many places inside Bhati Gate associated with Iqbal but the authorities have never paid any attention towards them. Iqbal’s house is also being neglected and misused whereas no one has ever bothered to look after it or take up its restoration,” said another resident of the area, Majeed Akhlaq.
The government, he added, had taken up the conservation of the Delhi Gate and other monuments but neglected such other important sites located within the Walled City.
A local tourist guide, Saeed Aziz, said that he often brought tourists to the site while showing them the hidden gems of the Bhati Gate. “Most of them go back home blue after having a look at the dilapidated condition of this place. I hope that it will be conserved someday.”
Speaking of the site’s history, WCLA Media and Marketing Deputy Director Tania Qureshi said that Iqbal had a special place for Bhati Gate in his heart.
“The thara, which is a platform outside a house in the area, was once used by intellectuals for literary and philosophical discussions. According to the book ‘Chelsea of Lahore’, it was one of Iqbal’s favourite resting places. He would sit there with the people of Bhati Gate to discuss literature. The barbershop which Iqbal often visited and his residence are also located on the same street.”
WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najam Saquib said they were preserving the thara and had decided to install an iron fence around it so that it is not misused.
“We have also decided to rent the house attached to the thara and re-use it,” he said it, adding that the authority had plans of converting the house into an information centre as well as a library for tourists and book lovers.
He added that WCLA had planned to acquire the place permanently, but it was being rented for the time being as buying it was a long procedure. “We will start the conservation and rehabilitation process as soon as we have the possession so that no further damage is inflicted to the property.”