KOHAT, Feb 10: Most historical places in Kohat are in an absolute shambles due to the archeology department’s neglect.
Many artefacts, including carved stones, marble tiles and statues, are taken away possibly by smugglers for a better price abroad.
Not long ago, the government had planned preservation of these places and sent in archeological experts for survey. However, the plan didn’t enter the execution phase.
Among these sites listed by the erstwhile federal tourism ministry are caves from Aad and Samud dynasty, Kohat springs visited by Baba Guru Nanak, Zinda Pir shrine, Kohat Fort, Cavagnari House, Guava Gardens, hilly track, Teri ashram and Hindu Bazaar, Handy Side Gate, Toi Banda rest house, Khushal Garh rest house, a 16th century mosque in Shahpur village, grave of former West Pakistan chief justice M. R. Kayani, palaces of emperor Durrani and his princes, Dhoda ground, where emperor Zahiruddin Babar camped on his way to India, eight out of 12 gates of the Walled City and Khushal Garh iron bridge.
During a visit, Dawn found the Durrani graveyard and the ruins of Aad and Samud without precious tiles, gravestones, coins and statues. A few are rebuilt by caretakers.
The shrine of Zinda Pir famous as Ghamkol Pir has been reconstructed by the saint’s grandsons and followers. However, the cave, where the saint used to perform rituals and pray, is in its original condition.
Kohat Fort built by emperor on the hilltop, where warrior Alexander camped with his army before marching towards north, now serves as the headquarters of the IXth division of Pakistan Army.
Only two places at the fort, one the tunnel, which served as the only entrance and second the trench surrounding it, are in original shape.
Repeated requests from the local residents to the government for preservation of these historical places have fallen on deaf ears.
The people have feared historical sites may disappear altogether if they are not properly preserved now.
They called for the government to allocate appropriate funds for protecting these places from going to ruin.
This, according to them, will help attract tourists from within the country and abroad and thus, generating revenue.
The people also demanded that the tomb of former chief justice Kayani be declared national heritage and a library be constructed there.
Ironically, when Dawn visited the place, a shepherd was making tea on the two pieces of the gravestone without knowing about its importance.