LAHORE: The first phase of restoration and rehabilitation of historical site of Mir Chakar-i-Azam Rind Tomb and Sikh era fort at Satgarah has been completed at a cost of Rs128m and the second phase will start soon, officials at the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) told Dawn.

Mir Chakar was a Baloch chieftain in the 16th century. He is considered a folk hero of the Baloch people and an important figure in the Baloch epic Hani and Sheh Mureed.

The officials said that in the second phase, shops would be constructed near the tomb where Baloch art and crafts would be put on display. A guest house would also be constructed in the area.

WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said the tomb was an important monument and from the next month, the authority would organise tours of colleges and universities to the tomb while it would also invite the tourists to visit this monument that had a rich cultural history.

The officials said on the basis of successful projects by the WCLA, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had decided to assign the task to its team and issued directions for restoration of the monuments at Satgarah.

Mr Lashari visited the site along with his team and observed that not only the tomb needed to be restored but the surrounding village also required uplifting. The site was documented through 3D laser scanner (the latest documentation instrument) for architectural documentation. The WCLA highlighted the issues, including restoration of the tomb structure, the access to the tomb, the consolidation of the fortified walls, entrance gates towards the Main Bazaar and the infrastructure of the Walled City of Satgarah.

During documentation of the monuments, the WCLA team highlighted the work done by the Punjab Department of Archeology, which conserved the tomb in 2007. It reconstructed the dome of the tomb, used brick tiles for its conservation and did Pakka Kali on outside & inside of the building.

The WCLA prepared a proposal for conservation of the tomb and its surrounding. The proposal included the restoration of the tomb, the access to it, the surrounding event area, restoration of Main Bazaar gates and the street surfacing the guest house and management office.

The officials said the tomb was half concealed in the ground. It was decided to excavate the earth to achieve its original level. The tomb was about four feet below the ground level. The best possible solution of approaching the tomb to its level was to provide a ramp from the ground level to tomb level. The concrete retaining wall was proposed surrounding the tomb to rehabilitate the tomb’s original level. The courtyard or the surrounding area of the tomb was shrunk due to encroachments and was being used by locals as Shamlat Deh (community centre) for keeping their domestic animals and the elders used to sit under the shadow of big peepal tree during lazy summer afternoons. The area was close to the tomb and its misuse could cause the tomb damages and ruin its exterior façade. So the team decided to conserve the surrounding area for cultural activities and festivals. The floor of the courtyard was conserved and bricks on the edge were laid. The stage was designed in the courtyard opposite to the eastern side of the tomb for folk performances and the sitting steps were designed on the southern side of the courtyard for the public.

The additional contribution to the courtyard was the Gharki (soakage well). The interior of the tomb was also in very dilapidated condition. The Pakka Kali was done in a very irregular manner.

The officials said the works, which had been carried out by the WCLA included the documentation of the existing condition of Satgarah Walled City and the tomb, issues of conservation and rehabilitation of the walls with traditional materials and improvement of infrastructure-drainage and street surfacing besides provision of the public facilities of toilets and information for tourists.

The Satgarah town is one of the oldest villages in Okara district. The local community living there believes that the word Satgarah means ‘seven families,’ which came to this place with Mir Chakar-i-Azam Rind. The name of this town Satgarah is commonly believed to have been derived from words Satt (seven) and Ghara (pitcher) or seven ghar (homes).

When Mir Chakar came to Punjab, the fort was built during the Sikh era with five bastions named as Satgarah Fort, which is called Satgarah village nowadays.

According to some historical accounts, the Satgarah Walled City is one of the oldest and most beautiful examples of Mughal architectural styles built in the mid-1500s in Mughal Emperor Humayun’s reign as the area of Satgarah was rewarded by Humayun to Mir Chakar

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2021

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