Enchanting Myths Of Rawalpindi
Rawalpindi or “Pindi”- to most is a brimming city next to capital, prominent for traffic and bargain shopping. The lone fascination for outsiders are three, Metro, Moti Bazaar and Mohallah Imam bara (Lunda bazaar), however, as an old city, it also abodes various historical landmarks and heritage sites. Before partition, it was a vibrant cultural and business hub inhabited by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains who migrated in 1947, but their legacy lives in the figure of architecture. Today, the streets of Bhabra Bazaar, Chan Charagh, Angat and Kartar Pura are the remnants of past grandeur and hold some untold fascinating myths that move about from one generation to another.
Loss of sight if one removes the Kalas :
Kalas or Kalasa is a spear shaped metal attached on the dome of Hindu temples. In the street corner of old Lunda Bazaar connecting Bohar Bazar, “Mohan temple” with Hindu God Ganesh (elephant figure) on the front. From outside, apart from worn out appearance, small and large (20 in total) gold plated Kalas are prominent, still shining after 6 decades of hardship including once forceful conversion into a Madrassa. As per locals, there’s a myth that is in continuation prior to partition that whoever tries to touch/take away the kalas turns blind. “Nobody touches them,” Nazir Ahmad, who runs a shop in the temple ground floor said while I asked about the kalas. “We have seen them all our lives and we respect them,” he added.
A similar story is famed about Bagh Sardarah temple which is in shambles but its kalas are still intact. According to Fahad Zulfiqar, Anthropologist from Qaed e Azam University, such myths have a historical backdrop. They were strewn by Hindus to prevent the destruction of temples. “It’s quite similar to our beliefs of not stealing from the mosque or else we’ll get a stroke of a bad luck,” he added.
A tunnel that goes to India:
There’s a wide spread belief in the neighborhoods of Bhabra Bazaar of the tunnel that goes to India. Tunnels were eminent of pre-partition moneyed houses and helped in escape during the riots. Bhabra Bazar and surroundings were rich Hindu neighborhoods before partition. Not well-known but there’s one tunnel underneath with entrance gate in outer courtyard of Haveli Sujan Singh, once the home of rich trader “Rai Bahadur Sujan Singh.” It connects this haveli with Sohan Singh Haveli (the current Fatima Jinnah University) and Bagh Sardaran near Eidgah. The tunnel now is in appalling state and its entrance is protected. Encroachments have clogged the ventilation and it is filled with rain and sewerage water.
The treasure of Raja Rani ki Haveli :
It is a familiar adage of every old environs that a treasure is buried somewhere on earth. There were few cases in Rawalpindi and Wazirabad, where some jewelry was found belonging to the previous owners who considered partition a matter of weeks and veiled their belonging in their house never to return back. Raja Rani ki haveli is amongst the majestic buildings of old Lunda Bazaar constructed by a rich Hindu in 1920s. At present it has been occupied by 6 families. There’s a myth that is well-known of Hindu merchant’s treasure (who was killed in partition riots) hidden in Haveli which is guarded by a pair of snakes. The pair comes out every 14th of the moon and can guide to the exact location. Many have tried their luck, instead ruined the precious carvings and artifacts. Even now, on every full moon, locals can still be seen trying to get a peek of the snakes to locate the treasure.
The healing salt of Shah Chan Charagh:
Imam Bargah Shah Chan Charagh is one of the oldest Imam Bargahs of Rawalpindi instituted in the era of Emperor Aurangzeb. It is said once Shah Chan Charagh was put into fire but the fire didn’t touch a single hair. The salt is the blessing of his prayers and can heal any wound. Every day from 2-pm-5pm, visitors including a large chunk of women come, pray and bring the salt with them and put a lock on the grill as good a omen.
Wandering Zulekha of Bhabra bazaar:
Nearly everyone from the area claims seeing this strange character. Before every storm, a burqa clad women ghost appears in the streets near Jaman wali masjid and disappears at a specific place. “Nobody knows why she’s been wondering but we are seeing her for the past 8-10 decades,”Baba Rahim who’s running a jewelry shop in the bazaar said while taking a sip of tea. “All we know is she doesn’t want anyone to touch her house.”
Since time immemorial, myth and folklore are main fundamentals of a society. It were the myths that on one side terrified and on the other raised people’s faithfulness towards God. The above myths seems more of a matter of belief then reality, however, In Rawalpindi they played a role of heritage protection and preservation. The element of fear has preserved a rich heritage that otherwise has no place in our culture and textbooks. I hope the saga continues and instigate the upcoming generations to inquire of their denied heritage and culture.