Akbari and heera mandi of old city lahore database transaction

Our guide was waiting for us in an open-top colorful rickshaw. He took us around the walled city to show its various gates and we also had a grand view of minar-e-Pakistan and badshahi mosque from an overhead bridge. We were then dropped off at the Delhi gate (Eastern side) of Lahore Fort. From here we walked across the old city.

Our first stop was the Hammam of Mughal period built in 1635. This Turkish-like bath was a built by the then Governor of Lahore Ilm-uddin Ansari to clean up the people of the walled city. It functioned as a waqf (funds generator) for the Wazir Khan mosque nearby. This bath had a Jama khana (changing area), neem (warm water) and garm (hot bath) areas. There were separate sections for men and women. This hammam was a sort of club for the local people, where they gathered in the evening for a chat and a massage.


Sunlight from the rooftop bathed the inhabitants below. The restoration work by Agha Khan Foundation was very modern.

From the roof of the hammam we could see the spice market established by Emperor Akbar in 1600 to trade with the Europeans. British India Company had a great appetite for spices and Lahore was the center of this trade. It’s after the British Annexed Bengal that the British Empire started dictated their terms of trade in spice.

As expected, close by was the music bazar, which was supposed to have the various musical instruments and dance accessories for the entertainers of the royal courts. Since this trade was strangulated during the Zia’s regime, none of that was visible anymore.

Our guide informed us that the Heera mandi (red light district) close by still caters for tourists and their request for exotic dances. Heera Singh was a royal in Ranjit Singh’s court. One session of song and dance from a famous ‘ bazar-e-husn’ lady could cost upwards of 50,000 Rupees. This bazar has been catering for royal tastes since the 15 th century. People are not interested in old cultural dances like Kathak and thumri anymore, he said, and demand latest Bollywood numbers. So much for culture, huh?

Wali my dear,I remember this from my young age,It was actually Governor Amir Mohammad Khan Nawwab of Kalabaagh who ordered to close the bussiness of love and dance in HEERA MANDI.I was a politicals science student and used to write in the different papers of Pakistan.When they decided to close the Heera mandi,I protested along with many other and wrote that if you close heera mandi,There will soon be heera mandis in the every street of Pakistan and that is the case since then.The price of a dance that you wrote (50000} must be some very special kind of dance,Otherwise,Just a week before a friend of mine hired a lady for full night for just 10000 Rs. and she was willing to do more then a dance.My this friend is a humanitarian writter and writting a book about the misouries of the dancing girls.I saw a program of anker Anila baji where she surprised some ladies and asked why are you doing this in ramadan and for how much ? The poor girl in burqa just wept and said,Baji,When my child cry for a bottle of milk,I forget ramadan and come here to earn 200 or 300 Rs. some lucky day.The situation on the ground is horribble but nobody seems to bother.Most of the PIOUS people hate to talk abot these issues,We will soon be celebrating Eid in the muslim world.I live in Danmark since 1970. Reply

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