Patti, May 30
Dozens of structures dating back to the Mughal era are lying in a shambles in the historic town of Patti. Many among them have withstood the test of time, bearing testimony to the town’s rich Mughal past. One of these buildings is musalla, known as ‘Peeran di Maseet’ among locals, situated in Mohalla Mughalan Wala. The musalla, a structure used for conducting salah, is believed to have been constructed by the Gilani family, which once lived in the town. Unfortunately, the upper portion of the building recently crumbled owing to heavy rains, and it currently stands as a ghostly reminder of its former glory.
- Last vestiges of the Mughal architecture in dilapidated condition, with bricks spalling and gumbads (domes) crumbling under the weight of time and neglect
- The disappearance of the the Mughal-era structures is a stark reminder of transient nature of the human settlements and the importance of preserving tangible cultural heritage
Patti, a town struggling to be a city, boasts of braving many winters. Situated in the Khar Majha area of Punjab, it earned the epithet of ‘Nau Lakhi Patti’ during the Mughal period owing to the octroi collection that ran into 9 lakh. A municipality since 1874, the town has come a long way. Known for its cultural and religious significance, it finds mention as ‘China Patti’ in the works of Hiuen Tsang — the Chinese traveller — who visited Punjab in 630 AD.
The Mirzas, famed for their opulence and extravagance, ruled the town during the Mughal period. They commissioned the construction of several magnificent buildings, including mosques, tombs and musallas. Many of these structures have been consigned to oblivion.
Unfortunately, these last vestiges of the Mughal architecture lie in a dilapidated condition, with bricks spalling and gumbads (domes) crumbling under the weight of time and neglect. Characterised by domed roofs, arches and intricate calligraphy, the simple yet elegant structures were made using Lakhori bricks, also known as Nanakshahi bricks. Predominantly, these buildings are small tombs and musallas with small minarets and jharokhas, epitomising the heydays that the town once witnessed.
The majority of these buildings were pulled down to encroach upon the land and some were razed out of ignorance by the residents. Their disappearance is a stark reminder of the transient nature of the human settlements and the importance of preserving tangible cultural heritage.
It may be mentioned that the old fort of the town underwent restoration a few years ago, but unfortunately, its poor upkeep has once again started taking its toll on the structure, with cracks appearing on some walls.
Jasbinder Singh, an old-timer said: “This place was full of mazaars and musallas when I first came here after the Partition. Most of the big houses used to have tomb-like structures that were used by Muslims for worship. With time, new residents razed these tombs to encroach upon the land. One can still find them in poor condition in the Ghati Bazaar area and Qazian Wala Mohalla. People are not aware of the relevance these structures carry. There used to be a few mosques in the town, but they have been lost to history.”
Expressing displeasure over the vanishing city heritage, Harmanpreet Singh Sekhon, a resident with keen interest in historical buildings, says it is essential to preserve these structures to ensure that the town’s rich history is not forgotten. By doing so, future generations can learn about the town’s past. It is crucial that steps should be taken to protect and preserve these structures for posterity.
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