LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has started working on preservation and conservation of eight shrines, a temple and six churches in parts of Punjab after completing the initial phase of documentation and mapping.

The Punjab government, through the Auqaf Department and Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department, has assigned the projects to the authority.

The conservation and preservation of the churches, shrines and temples will be carried out for the first time as per the international standards.

The shrines to be conserved by the WCLA include Darbar Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan, shrines of Hazrat Mian Meer, Shah Husain, Madhu Lal Hussain and Bibi Pak Daman in Lahore, Tomb of Bahauddin Zakariya, the tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam and shrine of Hazrat Shah Shams in Multan and the shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed in Kot Mithan.

The churches that are going to be preserved are St Francis Assisi Sahowala Sialkot, Presbyterian Church Nicolson Road Lahore, St Mary the Virgin Cathedral Church Multan, Christ Church Rawalpindi, Sacred Heart Cathedral Church Lahore and Cathedral Church of The Resurrection Lahore. The Shivala Mandir in Sialkot would also be conserved.

The WCLA will complete the projects by June next year. The funds will be provided by the Punjab government and the WCLA will act as an executing agency.

Baba Farid’s shrine in Pakpattan will cost Rs32.89m while the collective cost for shrines of Mian Meer, Shah Husain, Madhu Lal and Barkat Ali Islamia Hall would be Rs100m. The projects of south Punjab would cost Rs100m and they include tombs of Bahauddin Zakriya and Shah Rukn-e-Alam and shrines of Hazrat Shah Shams and Khawaja Fareed.

The newly assigned churches and temples for conservation and development include St Francis Assisi Sahowala Sialkot at the cost of Rs24.8m, Shivala Mundir Sialkot would be conserved with Rs24.7m, Presbyterian Church Nicolson Road Lahore with Rs25m, St Marry the Virgin Cathedral Church Multan with Rs39m, Christ Church Rawalpindi with Rs29m, Sacred Heart Cathedral Church Lahore with Rs15m and Cathedral Church of The Resurrection Lahore with Rs13.7m.

“It is a matter of honour for the WCLA that the government, Auqaf Department and the Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department have engaged it as the executing agency for conserving the religious heritage sites. It is a great gesture by the government towards minority rights and their heritage sites. This shows how important all religions are for the government and that we all believe in religious harmony,” said WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari.

He added that the sites would be conserved with the best techniques and methodologies.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022

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