Vanishing Relics of Shahpur

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Vanishing Relics of Shahpur, Mohammad Niaz
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, July 15 2011 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Vanishing Relics of Shahpur

Mohammad Niaz

The gradual deterioration of the grand Shahpur graveyard in district Kohat

Publishing Date: Friday, July 15 2011

Historical infrastructure and relics are symbolic to a locality that not only reflect the chronological traces but also become elements of recognition for an area when preserved through time. The gradual deterioration of the Shahpur graveyard in district Kohat is causing a cheap loss of its grandeur left at the mercy of time.

Located in the heart of Kohat, at a distance of about four km towards south-west of the urban area along Shahpur Road amid the famous guava orchards, the graveyard relics can be observed from a distance as the road passes through the time tested relics which reflects the family traces such as Mohammad Jamhur Jan which is the grandson of the Ahmad Shah Abdali.

Plant called mesquite having thorny feature is luxuriantly growing in the graveyard area which not only deters people to get inside the graveyard but also serves as an element to protect it. However, it also serves as potential cover to robbers as visitors would not get into the graveyard because of the thick outgrowth of thorny mesquite. Around the graveyard there are high hills with plants including Sanatha and Dodonaea species that have witnessed changes to the graveyard over time.


Location map of Shahpur Gravehard

The graveyard has three main infrastructures -- the mosque, the rectangular-shaped room, and the main tombs. The mosque, constructed in 1305 Hijri has a central tomb and stone plates engraved in Persian phrases and verses. It has now been whitewashed and courtyard made of bricks by the local caretakers.

Near the mosque the long main minaret of a rectangular room structure in dilapidated condition attract attention of many passers by. This place was used to be the kitchen and sitting area of the Abdali family. The minaret has five levels tapering to the top with a pointed ending. The room has four small hexagonal minarets with rounded tops one at each corner. Main door entrance towards the south has wooden frame and outward tiles some of which have dismantled and the rest are soon to follow. Elongated flat stones engraved with Persian phrases are still affixed above the main entrance.

The entire structure has no rooftop, which has fallen down in due course of time. Inside the room there are two lamp chambers and a small entrance opening to the east with a window towards the west. Long bricks have been used in construction of the room. Southwards remnants of an underground bathing drench with bricked top reveal the point used for taking bath in the by gone times. Next to this place lies a huge boulder with some inscription that is barely to decipher now. There are also two structures with lamp chambers that were used to lit lamps in the graveyard by the relatives of the princes.

Towards the east is located the main structure having central tombs and four entrances one at each side. The tombs have been built over graves of important figures of the time. These graves that are built of rocks cut in different sizes form the main attractive features where a lot of labour must have been put in to carve the stone in such sizes and shapes.

The taller tomb has four hexagonal minarets one at each corner provided with slits towards top. The tombs have turned to dark greenish tinge due to time and weather factor. The smaller tomb having flat rounded top has a wall in front with stones slabs engraved in Persian phrases some of which have fallen down and lost. The boundary wall of the graveyard has been completely demolished.

One of the main reasons to maintain this graveyard is not only to preserve the history over time but the place is also a hotspot for tourists as it is situated in the vicinity of the Tanda Dam which is famous for having a wildlife park and water reservoir. The graveyard is en-route to the Tanda Dam and has high potential of preserving it to check further deterioration in its present status. The Tanda Dam is famous for its landscape and ecological features such as serving as the staging ground to the migratory birds in winter.

Preservation and maintenance of the graveyard will not only preserve the historical heritage but will also serve as tourist site as most of tourists are not aware of its history and existence. This heritage remains unnoticed by the visitors who avail recreational resources of the Park and the Reservoir in the nearby area.

Such heritage buildings need to be preserved through time which will not only help in boosting up the local economy through tourism but will also serve as exposure to the locality.


The writer is Deputy Conservator Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department


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Vanishing Relics of Shahpur, Mohammad Niaz
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, July 15 2011 (http://www.khyber.org)