Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

MUHARRAM - SAFAR 1424 H
MARCH 2004
Volume 17-03 No : 207

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Heritage


Peshawar's Havelis Need to be Preserved

Peshawar's Havelis Need to be Preserved

Peshawar is one of the ancient cities of Pakistan and the sub-continent. The Havelis of Mohalla Sethian in Peshawar represent exquisite architecture. Though many of them have been destroyed due to the apathetic attitude of the people towards the heritage value, some of them could still be saved.

Several quarters have expressed concern towards preserving these Havelis which have large latticed windows, carved woodwork and large ventilators and parapets. Built across narrow streets, these Havelis used to be the abodes of the affluent businessmen of yore from the Sethi family. For nearly 2000 years, these narrow streets have shown no change except for the fact that these streets can no longer cope with the modern vehicles. Sethis carried their merchandise from India to China to Central Asia. Successful merchants as they were, they built eight big, beautiful Havelis in the 18th century. They retain the old world charm to this day with lot of timber going into their construction. The Sethi family originally hailed from Chamkani where they originally built houses on several kunals of land. Though several of them have been deserted for long by families who have shifted to more upmarket areas of the city, they are worth preservation. Neglect and apathy have pushed several of them to the verge of disaster. One of these large mansions has now been turned into a furniture -making unit.

Says Suhail Sethi, their ancestors were fond of building grandiose mansions. They even built several mosques and the Islamiah College of Peshawar. Almost every such mansion used to have a 'Cheenikhana' where chandaliers, lamps and crockery from Samarkhand and Bukhara were displayed in shelves. These havelis followed the same broad pattern of two-storeyed structures raised around fountains and a large central court-yard. Every plank, pillar and bracket was carved with hand. According to furniture maker Mukarram Khan, such carving is not possible today.

Each Haveli used to have a basement where according to elders, one needed a blanket to wrap while sleeping even in the hottest summer. The precious architectural heritage today urges immediate steps to save the remaining vestiges of the past. Citizens of Peshawar have urged the members of the Sethi family to chalk out a plan to preserve the heritage for the future.

(Abridged and translated from BBC. Urdu. com by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj)

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News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Community Initiative Globe Watch Event Diary Trends Muslim Perspectives Metro Mail Men, Missions and Machines Muharram Children's Corner Heritage Children's Corner Quran Speaks to You Hadith Fast Farword Special Space Opinion Guidelines Our Dialogue Miscellany Reflections Lessons to Learn Soul Talk Rights and Wrongs View Point Matrimonial
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