It is difficult to express what I felt when I stepped into the premises of Dr Muhammad Allama Iqbal Museum. It was, probably, a unique combination of honour and excitement.
I, along with my two pals, visited this memorable dwelling situated at one of the busiest roadways of Lahore, Allama Iqbal Road. In fact, the vicinity around it is known as Garhee Shahoo and the place that was once called Javed Manzil is now renamed Iqbal Museum and the road it is on is called Iqbal Road, in honour of the poet of east, Dr Muhammad Allama Iqbal.
As soon as we stepped into the museum we were welcomed by two attendants who guided and took us to various galleries of the museum, nine in all. We were told that for the construction of Javed Manzil, a plot measuring seven kanals, was purchased in 1934 through public auction for Rs25,025 and Allama sahib named the building, Javed Manzil, after his son's name. In 1977, Javed Manzil was purchased by the Government of Pakistan to house a museum; now it remains open for visitors till 4pm each day.
Museum Information Gallery, the very first in the series of nine small, yet prestigious, galleries contains the history of Javed Manzil and the biography of Dr Iqbal. It leads to Iqbal's court that was used to offer prayers and there are some classy black and white pictures of his parents on one wall. Gallery Number Two was not less than a great surprise as it contains manuscripts and academic degrees and a picture of Shams-ul-ulama Molvi Meer Hassan - Allama's teacher.
Poems, articles, documents and the first edition of Iqbal's works make up the content of the third gallery. In the fourth, there are letters, welcome addresses and some rare photographs of Iqbal and also those showing him with other people. Buildings models and institutions associated with Iqbal and the very rare pictures of his wives are displayed in the fifth gallery.
In contrast to previous galleries, gallery six contains his attires such as two piece suits, bow ties, shalwar qameez and the shoes. Gallery seven, eight and nine comprise Iqbal's bed, drawing and dinning room respectively. There are some memorable photographs of Iqbal with Quaid-i-Azam and other leaders as well.
The dinning table and even the dinner set that were in his use then are still in almost perfect condition. Despite being a place that has numerous attractions, the museum has suffered because of the neglect of higher authorities.
Places like Iqbal Museum, indeed, are worth visiting for both young and old people. Visiting such places is akin to paying homage to the great men of the past who have made remarkable contributions in our history and to whom we owe a lot. It fortifies our attachment with their personalities and develops in us a lot of love and respect for them. Thus when our visit to Iqbal Museum ended, we felt as if we had taken a trip on a time machine to the past and had a visual tour of a significant era and having met an important personality.