LAHORE: Among many remnants Maharaja Ranjheet Singh’s era located inside Sheran Walla Gate, one of them is Raja Dhian Singh’s Haveli.
Located infront of the Government Said Mitha Hospital Near Taxali Gate and Chowk Nau Gazza, the building belonged to Raja Dhian Singh Dorga (1761-1843) a key figure among Ranjit Singh’s court who rose to power from a trooper to chamberlain and finally serving as the one of prime minister of Ranjheet Singh’s court.
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One can gauge the influence of Raja Dhian from the fact that in order to make way for this haveli, small houses constructed on around 50 to 60 kanal of adjacent neighbourhood were demolished, however, the current structure has been reduced to only two kanals.
According to the details provided by Walled City of Lahore Authority, it took several years to complete the original complex which included a long way to the porch, including Zanana or female section on the right and Mardana or male residence on the left along with the court donning magnificent lobbies and reception areas.
The court for public hearings and gatherings also included underground chambers where Dhian Singh’s son Hira Singh was killed by the Sikhs.
Historical accounts also claim that the haveli was actually built by Jamadaar Khushal Sigh, a humble door keeper who rose to power as the chief chamberlain of Ranjhit Singh.
According to WLCA, currently three neighbourhoods believed to have been built over the Haveli’s vast property that include Kashmiri Muhallah, Gujar Werah and Hindustani Muhallah. According some historical records, at the site of Dhian Singh’s court, an underground theatre was built, which also lead a tunnel leading to Lahore fort which was closed down.
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During the British era, the haveli was occupied by Maharaja Gulab Singh. The havelis were later on repurposed as one large unit by the British for official use began serving as the office of Lahore assistant commissioner, and later as the very first building for Government College in 1864, attended by Sir Gana Ram as one of its students.
Currently the building is a property of the Education Department, Fatimah Jinnah College for women, which is relatively preserved. While the part of the haveli identified as Dhian Singh’s court served as Muslim League High School which was relocated, leaving the building abandoned and in ruins.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2017.
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