Historiography of Architecture
of Pakistan and the Region
History has undoubtedly been written by the victor and therefore the vanquished has gone under represented. In the case of written Architectural History in the Sub-Continental region (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Iran) too, new construction of rulers is given far more space than the extant architecture of the bygone times. Archaeology, the search and respect for ancient cultural achievements is one of the beneficial legacies of the Colonial Period, which has led to greater understanding of the history of the Sub-Continent. Conservation of heritage is a direct result of the interest in ancient cultures, their artifacts and monuments. In the post Colonial period, history is being re-examined, in response to the writings of Edward Said and Howard Zinn. History written by Western Scholars is being critically studied to bring in erstwhile neglected dimensions. The reading and writing of history in countries with a colonial experience requires a fresh approach. The Subaltern studies group in India has led the field in this respect.
James Fergusson’s compilation of the buildings in India over a seven year period where he travelled the length and breadth of the Empire inspires respect and even amazement at his dedication and thoroughness. On his return to Britain, in 1845, he spent next forty years writing about the architecture of India and also the East. Despite his vast work and writing and his knowledge which was greatly respected in the Victorian Period his conclusions and labeling of architecture in India is debatable. Excellent documentation of buildings does not necessarily lead to a wider understanding of History. Most academics, in particular one Mr. Claude Batley, Professor of Architecture at J. J. School of Arts, Bombay, followed him blindly and attempted to apply terms Hindu and Muslim to even doors and windows.
The subthemes of the conference and questions to be addressed are the following:
1. Subjectivity in the study of History of Architecture
“History is written by the Victor”, it is said and therefore it is a valid question to ask “For whom is the Historian writing?” Veneration of history through glorification of Heritage has dimensions that need to be examined. Is Heritage real, objective or is it sometimes ‘constructed’ in service of some current forces? Putting Antiquity in service of the Present? Architectural monuments and the pride they inspire is a very strong force in the life of a people. This theme could explore the History of Architecture written during Ancient Period, the Medieval Period or the Colonial Period in India / Subcontinent and the Region. Architecture and the writing of its History in Iran has a significant effect on the Sub-Continental situation.
2. “Architecture is the History of a People in Brick and Stone” – Cultural factors in the Study of History of Architecture
Is history of architecture a mere description of the extant structures, in other words, must Architects ignore the stories of people that these structure tell? Is architecture, and its history, apolitical and thus must be confined to the physical and technical issues involved only? Archaeology unearths evidences which are subject to interpretations. Some are undisputed and others generate controversies. Different groups find meaning to suit their proclivities. Where does the Historian stand in this?
3. Historiography of Aesthetics of Architecture
The usual question returns, is beauty universal or particular to people? Are the sublime beauties of Ajanta and the Taj only a reflection of a particular set of aesthetics? What constitutes beautiful architecture? Is it the awe and wonder it inspires? Thus the great monuments of Kings and Queens, and the Nawabs and Rajas, the Taj Mahals and Forts constitute Beauty and do they set the standards that all architects need to follow? Or is there beauty also in the inspiration of the craftsman as he turns or carves a particular detail? Why do we still respond to the delicacy of the carving and lines in Taj and Ajanta. What carries people to higher level of appreciation and happiness on beholding a lovely stream, light in a valley and a house well-done?
4. Historiography of Urbanism
Urbanism, the study of urban issues, results from the trend of humans to live together in large numbers. Is there an evolutionary logic in the growth of the small cluster of shelters, caves or huts, to the mega-cities of today? As the city grows, and engenders wealth, culture, and extreme poverty, the question to ask is where is it heading? Is the future of the city of any concern to the Historian? Need we worry or let the Nature take its course? How will the millions of people fare in the grand march of technology and capital accumulation?
5. Science, Technology, Capital and Historiography
Do Historians understand the tremendous forces of Science and Technology shaping the present world? Do they affect the understanding and interpretation of History of Architecture, for architecture and cities that humans have developed cannot be divorced from technology? Does urban historiography give space to developments in the design and provision of infrastructure of cities e.g. water-supply and waste-disposal leading to the question of health and education infrastructure and their quality for different segments of people? Is it valid to raise the question of the City Beautiful v/s the City Equitable?
Dr. Mubarak Ali (left) delivering the Keynote address.
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva (right). Speaker: Dr. Ghafer Shahzad (left)
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva (right). Speaker: Linus Strothmann (left)
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva (right). Speaker: Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz Khan (left)
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva (right). Speaker: Ms. Varda Nisar (left)
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva. Speaker: Ms. Melanie Dissanayake(pictured)
Session 1 chaired by Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva. Speaker: Ms. Ayesha Siddiqui (pictured)
Session 2 chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali (right). Speaker: Ms. Aisha Imdad (left)
Session 2 chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali (right). Speaker: Ar. Taimur Sarwar (left) presenting Dr. Sylvia Shorto’s paper.
Session 2 chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali (right). Speaker: Ar. Saba Samee (left)
Session 2 chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali. Speaker: Dr. Priyaleen Singh (pictured)
Session 2 chaired by Dr. Mubarak Ali. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Anis Siddiqi (pictured)
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal (right). Speaker: Prof. Dr. Neelam Naz (left)
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal. Speaker: Prof. T.K. Nimal P. De Silva (pictured)
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal (right). Speaker: Prof. Dr. Anila Naeem (left)
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal (right). Speaker: Dr. Ahmed Zaib Khan Mahsud (left)
Session 3 chaired by Prof. Sajida Vandal. Speaker: Dr. Khalid Bajwa (pictured)
Musical evening. Prof. Israr Chishti at harmonium.
FIRST INTERNATIONAL THAAP CONFERENCE 2010
Historiography of Architecture of Pakistan and the Region
Held on November 06-08, 2015 at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore
The outcome of this conference is a peer-reviewed book “Historiography of Architecture of Pakistan and the Region” published in 2011 and edited by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal.
Scholars from various countries including India, Sri Lanka, Austria, Belgium, Turkey, Germany, USA and Pakistan, presented their papers. A one-and-a-half day conference in which 18 papers were presented, a key note by Dr. Mubarak Ali, with a musical evening.
List of Paper Readers
(Delhi) Changing Imagery of the Mughal Gardens of Taj Mahal
(Bombay) Clusters and Communities – The Architectural Patterns in Colonial Bombay’s ‘native town’
3. Sri Lanka
Prof. T. K. Nimal P. De Silva
Kalpawruksha the Celestial Tree in Asian Art and Architecture: A Sri Lankan Expression
4. Ms. Melanie Dissanayake
The Kandyan Mural Painting: The Expression of Aesthetic Components on the Painted Surface
Architectural Impressions between Turkey and Pakistan: A tightrope between objects and the historian
Dr. Sylvia Shorto
The Shalimar Bagh and the Mubarak Bagh: Histories from the Garden Houses in North-West Delhi
Eastern Shrines and Western Values: A subjective (self-) reflection on why Western and Western educated scholars have neglected state run Pakistani shrines.
Reinventing Modern Urbanism:
Doxiadis´ ‘City of the Future’ in the Plan for Islamabad 1959-63
Extents & Restraints of Conjecture in Historiography of Architecture
10. Dr. Khalid Bajwa
Androon Shaher [Lahore’s Inner City]: Revisiting The Mystified Origins
Teaching History of Architecture in Architectural institutions of Pakistan: A Problem or a Solution
Swastika: A geometric motif with Symbolic Connotations
13. Ar. Saba Samee
‘Lahore’ – The city of ‘Travelers’
14. Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Samadhi Bhai Vasti Ram
A Study of Sikh Architectural Ornamentation
15. Dr. S. Gulzar Haider
To Historiographers and Pedagogues, with Respect
16. Dr. Anis Siddiqi
Narratives and Storytelling: Teaching Tools for Architectural History, Theory and Design
17. Ms. Aisha Imdad
The Evolution of Tree of Life as an Islamic Decorative Element in Fresco Paintings in Mughal or Mughal Inspired Architecture of Pakistan
‘Understanding Urban Built Form Traditions using Methodical Study of Historic Sources: A Case Study of Sindh, Pakistan’
19. Ms. Varda Nisar
“Architecture is the Study of a People in Brick and Stone: Cultural Factors in the Study of Architecture”
FIRST INTERNATIONAL THAAP CONFERENCE
Historiography of Architecture in Pakistan and the Region
Report by Ar. Maliha Vahla
THAAP (Trust for History, Art and Architecture of Pakistan) is a not for profit registered private trust established in 2006, with the purpose to explore, strengthen and extend the rich culture and its expressions in art and architecture in Pakistan and also to promote objective history.
THAAP has, thus, decided to sponsor a series of annual conferences and monthly lectures to encourage the study of History of Architecture in Pakistan. The lecture series began early this year. The first lecture was delivered by Dr. Gulzar Haider followed by a lecture by Dr. Abdur Rehman and then Ar. Sajjad Kausar.
This was the first conference on the subject of Historiography of Architecture in Pakistan and the Region held from November 26-27, 2010. The ambiance was very serious as among the audience were only those who were genuinely interested and wanted to contribute with their useful discourse or knowledge that they bring with them and the knowledge that they take from here. Among those who attended were architects, educators, fine artists, sculptors, visual artists, ceramists, etc as it had much of value for all those who are linked with Art and Architecture. There was no auxiliary glitz or glamour or lavish meals to attract larger crowds and assure good attendance. The meals were prepared in the house and were delicious; the menu was kept simple.
DAY 1- SESSION I
Day 1 began at 2:30 pm on Saturday, November, 26, 2010, with an introduction and a welcome note presented by the founder of THAAP Prof. Pervaiz Vandal.
Dr. Mubarak Ali presented the Keynote Speech. Doing full justice to the keynote his paper summed up how history could be misinterpreted and how imperial powers have used the progressive historiography in their personal interests and portray past to be dark and uncivilized, how the historiography of the subcontinent and that of Pakistan changed with time and why there is a need to validate and reassess history objectively. I would quote excerpts from his paper
“The focus of the religious historical interpretation is to describe the contribution of rulers, nobility and Sufi and saints only. However, the Indian historiography changed in the 18th century when the Mughal dynasty declined and the royal courts failed to patronize the historians and scholars. …..The historians moved from the royal circle to the common people and also travelled extensively. The result was a rich history containing colorful variety of social life.”
“The British occupation resulted in a colonial interpretation of history with a motive to legitimize the rule. Once the British power was consolidated the mission was redefined as an effort to civilize the uncivilized Indians whose past was portrayed as dark and the form of government as despot. ……….. The sharp division between Hindus and Muslims came about during the British period……..The two nation theory emerged from the womb of this colonial approach and later became major cause of the partition.”
“In Pakistan historiography always faithfully served the interest of the ruling class. In its early stage just after partition its main objective was to break off all liens with eth Indian subcontinent historically and culturally.
I.H Qureshi‘s writing provided a sound basis for the Pakistan ideology. History was linked to the Islamic period via the conquest of Sindh. The communalist which were the product of communalization of the Indian politics as the 1920s and 30s were followed and Mohammad Bin Qasim was recognized as the conqueror Sindh and Mahmud of Ghazna, being elevated as status of heroes. It had disowned Akbar, who was accused of inducting Hindus into his empire. Aurangzeb became the symbol of a new Islamic party…….
The Grand National narrative of the freedom struggle, Muslim leaders and patrons who had joined the nationalist movement and had opposed the Muslim league were excluded from history. All achievements were attributed to all India Muslim league and its leaders Mohammad Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah became the founding fathers of the newly born nation; eventually, these narratives were more anti Hindu then anti British.”
Dr. Mubarak Ali concluded that architecture of a region fully reflects historiography of that region and therefore history of architecture should be analyzed with the context of social and political changes and not in isolation.
The keynote address was followed by a paper by Dr. Ghaffer Shehzad which constituted of a very comprehensive research, reassessment, and validation of written and recorded history. It was a continuation to Dr. Mubarak’s point of view of history as a “double edged sword” that spreads consciousness and at the same time could be misleading. This paper was based on special references to the books on architectural history “Tehqiqat-e- Chishti” (1864) an exposition written by Moulvi Noor Ahmad Chishti and the “The Raj, Lahore and Bhai Ram Singh” (2006) written by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal and Prof. Sajida Vandal. The speaker unfolds the conjectures used in historiography by general historians and architect historians. Where general historians get support from oral history without any critical appraisal, they write down whatever is stated by people; on the other hand the Architect historians use their aesthetically trained mind and confidence to give the credit of even those buildings which have no proof of being designed by Bhai Ram Singh.
I would quote the speaker here “When Chishti starts writing about some Sufi in his book he simply says ‘Mujawar of the Shrine elaborates about the Sufi that he was born, migrates and settled etc……………….’ and do not bother to give any references of source. Generations after generations whatever the Mujawar have fabricated stories, Chishti without any inquiry believed and included in his book”
Ar. Ghaffer further speaks about another conjecture made by Chishti regarding the Chillah Gah of Moeen –ud- din Chishti of Ajmer located at the Shrine of Hazrat Ali Hujweri based on the story told by a gaddi nashin of Hazrat Ali Hajweri. Now believing it to be the Chillah Ghah of Hazrat Moeen-u-ddin Chisht, a room was constructed here and 6th Rajab of every Islamic year, parallel to the shrine of Moeen- u-ddin Chisti in Ajmer, urs ceremonies and rituals are conducted here regularly. The speaker declares this kind of approach of historians as “This casual approach has spread disinformation.”
Now regarding the Vandals, the speaker says “Regarding the building of good architectural vocabulary, Vandals do not leave any chance to give credit to Bhai Ram Singh but when the building features are not remarkable, Vandals straightforwardly decline to accept the building designed by Bhai Ram Singh, although evidences prove it.”
“Bhai Ram Singh’s work is up till decades of 19th century and an early decade of 20th century (1916) when record was kept at government level.it is required to find out evidence and proofs of buildings designed by Bhai Ram Singh. These conjectures may consume many years of research of scholars to prove and disprove the propositions made by Vandals. This cannot be objective of historical writings, we cannot use the words like appears to be designed by’, ‘may also have been involved in the design’ or ‘he is reputed to have designed etc.’
Vandals being the organizers had given a chance to this speaker to come out and criticize their work left right and center, in presence of a crowd of teachers, students and foreign internationally acclaimed architects and with themselves sitting there and quietly listening to the criticism being showered upon them. I salute their honesty and my respect for them and their organization has grown even stronger.
Linus Strothman an anthropologist from Germany was the next speaker and he spoke on “Eastern Shrines and Western Values: A subjective self-reflection on why Western and Western educated scholars have neglected state run Pakistani shrines”.
The fourth paper of the first session was by Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz, from LUMS Lahore, with the paper title “Samadhi Bhai Vasti Raam; a study of Sikh architectural ornamentation”. The paper talked about the ornamental program of Vasti Ram’s Samadhi having strong similarities with Maharaja Ranjit Singhs’s Samadhi; and at the same time subject matter of the frescos in the interior of the two buildings is very different. The presentation discussed with visual references and supporting images a comparison of the themes and threw interesting light on the role of patrons and their preferences.
At the end of this paper the session was open to discussion. The discussion session was followed by a tea break. The tea breaks, after regular intervals gave a very good opportunity of interacting and carrying a light conversation with fellow architects and speakers as well as boosting ones energies and preparing oneself for another sit down lecture.
Coming back from the tea break, it was very encouraging to listen to a very young energetic speaker, Ms. Varda Nisar, a student of fourth year from NED University Karachi. The paper was entitled as “Architecture is a study of a people in brick and stone: Cultural factors in the study of architecture”. What was much appreciated of her paper was that she very confidently presented her personal views and analysis and there was an originality of thoughts. She spoke how globalization has casted negative effects on architecture design and how technology is abused to create completely out of context buildings pure replicas of the buildings of preferences in other places with a different context, climate etc. The need of media to play an important role in creating awareness of sustainability was stressed and according to the speaker media had played a massive role otherwise to promote the fashionable architecture and global trends. The speaker shared with the audience a case study of the Silawat Community in India where youth was becoming more westernized and the ties within the community were changing.
Varda’s paper was followed by Ms Melanie Dissanayake from Srilanka, who spoke on “The Kandyan mural paintings: the expression of aesthetic components on the painted surface”
It was very informative to see the abundant use of swastika in different types of Mughal buildings in Lahore and Tombs of Multan, in Ayesha Siddiqui’s paper entitled as “Swastika: a geometric motif with symbolic connotations” that followed. The Lahore Fort and Masjid Wazir Khan were discussed in detail. The speaker also mentioned towards the end of the paper “swastika because of its wider interpretational possibilities helped the designer to use it without considering its religious associations and therefore as compared to other Hindu motifs it seemed more appropriate to use even in buildings of religious importance.”
This led to the discussion session after which dinner was served and the first day came to an end.
DAY II-SESSION II
The second day began with Dr. Gulzar Haider, Dean of Beaconhouse National University, Lahore who could not be present to deliver his paper. Therefore, Dr. Khalid Bajwa read the paper on his behalf. It was followed by Ayesha Imdad, a visual artist currently teaching at COMSATS Islamabad who spoke on “The evolution of the tree of life as an Islamic decorative element in fresco paintings in Mughal or Mughal inspired Architecture of Pakistan.”
Dr. Sylvia Shorto, from American University of Beirut, was to follow next; It was read by Ar. Taimur Sarwar, a practicing Architect currently teaching at COMSATS, Lahore in Sylvia’s absence.
Subsequently, Ar. Saba Samee, Associate Professor at COMSATS, Lahore, read her paper with the title “Lahore the city of travellers”. I would quote few concluding line for her paper “In the start of the practical analysis of our recorded history is suggested as high time that we should reexamine our much romanticized history and start analyzing with renewed sense of ownership and scholarly objectivity. To achieve this task, or even to begin the process, it becomes exceedingly essential to investigate history through historiography’ by cross referencing the contextual timeline’ and personal subjectivity.
The next paper was presented by Ar. Priyaleen Singh from India. The paper title was called “changing imagery of the Mughal gardens of Taj Mahal.” I was very inspired by her paper and also took an opportunity to discuss with her in detail over the tea break. I would like to present excerpts from her paper where she beautifully unfolds the design of the Taj Mahal and the processes of changes that it went under the so called maintenance and preservation efforts over the period of time. The speaker explains ,“Here the height of the various platforms, the walkways, the sunken beds, the location of trees within, the selection of other plant species, the axial arrangement of the water channels and their carefully calculated widths, were all critical to the composition.v Francois Bernier, in giving one of the first accounts of the gardens of Taj Mahal, as he saw them in 1660 A.D., describes the pathways as being 4-6 French feet above the planting beds, giving a sensation of walking above the shrubs and trees. Looking over the grounds from the high platform of the mausoleum, he says: “to the left and right of that dome on the lower surface you observe several garden walks covered with trees and many parterres of flowers….”
“What we have today in the gardens of Taj Mahal is a post-colonial interpretation of a colonial intervention in a Mughal garden.xiv The colonial legacy also implies that all landscape schemes within historic gardens and historic sites, belonging to the ancient, mediaeval or colonial periods, continue to have the same vocabularies of lawns and the ubiquitous Bougainvilleas and Duranta hedges within. Contemporary landscape design too continues to be guided by the colonial perceptions that had a century earlier sacrificed the scents and textures of a paradise garden by giving primacy to the sense of sight, and where a whole new visual aesthetics replaced the earlier experiential aesthetics, resulting in environs replete with vocabularies of design alien to the cultural and physical context within which they exist”.
The speaker beautifully concluded
“It is important to return to the paradisiacal experience because even today, in very changed circumstances those vocabularies contain enormous lessons as representations of a heightened experiential aesthetics. The groves of trees and shrubs which were an essential part of the Mughal chahar bagh are also ecologically more sound in their demand for and consumption of water than the lawns which have replaced them. They further support a richer and more diverse ecosystem in comparison to the expanse of lawns, which are essentially a monoculture form. These trees, if planted, would additionally provide much needed shade to visitors, as protection against the harsh summer of Agra. They would also provide increased biomass, as regulated by an order of the Supreme Court of India, to counter the air pollution that is turning the white marble of the mausoleum yellow. The orchards would moreover help sustain the gardens, as they originally did over three centuries ago.”
Next to follow was the paper “Architectural impressions between Turkey and Pakistan: a Tightrope between objects and historians” by Dr. Banu Pekol, an architectural historian from Istanbul Technical University. In the speaker’s absence, the paper was read by Ar. Jawad Tahir, currently teaching at UET, Lahore.
This was followed by a paper by Prof. Dr. Anis Siddiqui, Head of Architecture Department, College of Art and Design, Punjab University, which emphasized and drew interesting facts of the art of storytelling, imaginative conjectures and narratives used as an affective mode of teaching. He also gave references to his personal experiences.
With this Session II came to an end and was followed by a healthy discourse and then Lunch. Informal discussions continued over Lunch.
The last session began with Prof. Dr. Neelum Naz, Professor, Department of Architecture, UET, Lahore. Her paper title was “Teaching history of architecture in architectural institutions of Pakistan: a problem or a solution.” Dr. Neelum’s paper was more or less a continuation of Dr. Anis Siddiqui’s paper that preceded it in session 2. She reinforced the method of storytelling as an effective tool in teaching and also emphasized on the use of other creative methods for instance the combination of the thematic and traditional approach supported by books, maps, visuals, films and images, timelines, drawings, sketches and field trips. Current teaching scenario of Pakistan was also discussed and it was pointed out that it does not build the students interest rather puts them off.
Prof. Nimal De Silva, Senior Professor of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Srilanka was the next speaker and the second of the last session. He spoke on the topic “Kalpawruksha the celestial tree in Asian Art and Architecture: a Srilankan Expression.”
Prof. Anila Naeem, Professor, Department of Architecture and Planning Department, NED University, followed with her paper “Understanding the built form traditions using methodical study of historic sources: a case study of Sindh , Pakistan”. The session was declared open to discussion and tea break followed the discussion.
Dr. Ahmad Zaib K. Mehsud, Visiting Professor and Postdoc Research Associate, ASRO Department- Architecture, Urban Design and Regional Planning K. University of Leuven, read a very comprehensive paper on “Reinventing Modern Urbanism: Doxiadis ‘city of the future in the plan for Islamabad 1956-63”the speaker went into detail of the morphogenesis of the plan of the capital city of Islamabad designed by Doxiadas during Ayub Khan’s period. He described the political atmosphere at that time and the context of foreign relations, foreign aid etc that lead to the birth of a New Capital and became the complex objectives to be achieved through the design of the New capital. Where the plan of Islamabad is quite debated among the planners and critics and Doxiadas is a controversial figure controversial, the speaker concludes it as “Islamabad as the illustration of Doxiadis´ COF presents a combination of deductive (Athens charter) method and inductive (habitat charter) approach discernable from the synthesis of certain “generic” and “local” elements. Such a synthesis is achieved by employing a specific design method (D-syn) that unfolds the reformulation / reinvention of modern urbanism. A synthesis that shows the transformation of the functionally separated, void dominant modernist city of isolated tower into a city of thick four -dimensional mesh adjusted to the surrounding landscape with a variety of inhabitation types overlapped, solid and void interlocked, while preserving human scale to foster human association.”
“What Doxiadis is doing is the multiplication and repetition of the elements of the city to address the issue of growth, dissociating them and then re-configuring which still is a functionalistic approach with the exception of the preservation of human scale that he advocates to be necessary for human association. Developmentalism and the approach of synthesis form an “operating pattern” that represents duality. It is evoked in the combination of rural areas and urban, the old and the new, nature and the city, handicraft and industrial areas, knitted together within the framework of infrastructure as the metropolitan focus of the new state. The duality of the plan attempts to bridge the rurality and urbanity, past and the future, and matches the aspirations of the new state that is clinging to the tradition and its past glory but also aspiring to the modernization. Owing to such features, the mainstream history of urbanism through architectural lens sees Doxiadis´ plan for Islamabad with indifference because it is not composed of glittering iconic structures. Rather it condemns skyscrapers, advocates low-rise development, protection of historic areas (Rawalpindi and the existing vernacular), and preservation of natural open space as a qualitative attribute across the metropolis.
The plan demonstrates an attempt to rationalize time and scale, and periphery and center at multiple levels as a measure of producing comprehendible environment in the growing metropolis.”
The last paper was read by Dr. Khalid Bajwa, Professor, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore with the title “Androon shaher (lahore’s inner city): Revisiting the mystified origins.” The paper was definitely worth waiting for and gave a good ‘end all’ to the conference. The speaker drew a comparison between the Harrappan cities and Lahore Inner city and suggested by drawing a conjecture that Lahore may be a Pre-Harrappan city that has survived through. In answer to a question he also stated that when resources allow he would go in depth and seek technical support to scratch deeper beneath the surface in order to find out. The last paper gave way to discussion and then a ‘sum up’ of the conference by Prof. Sajida Vandal. It was very heartening to see that Prof. Sajida Vandal even thanked the cooks who prepared the food, those who laid the tables, and of course the technicians, the volunteers, the organizing committee, the speakers and the audience.
A musical evening followed with a scrumptious dinner. The foreign guests and those who had come from outside Lahore were taken for a city Tour the next day, Sunday, November 28, 2010.
I would conclude that this conference was an eye opener, presenting to the audience diverse subjects and perspectives that at the same time were correlated and befitting in a way of broadening the mind and vision. I feel that the aim and objective of THAAP to re-visit and re-examine history was a step much needed. Although some Speaker could not make it but the papers that were read were excellent in sharing their genuine and varied perspectives which imbued in me the seed of reassessing history and not taking what has been recorded as “Gospel’s truth” without even validating and cross referring. I see a great hope and wish that this gradual process continues and brings reforms.