The news that the archaeological department in Punjab has completed the task of repairing Anarkali’s Tomb, a building of immense historical interest, is good. Of course, this structure, like so many others, should never have been allowed to fall into the state of disrepair that it did. The damage began to be inflicted on the place of burial of Anarkali, which stands in the midst of the bazaar named after her, many years ago. Over the centuries, since it was built somewhere between 1605 and 1606, it came to be used to house the clerical staff of Sir Henry Lawrence. This was after Punjab was taken over by the British in 1849. It was later partially converted into a church, then into a general records office and today still houses archives.
But the restoration of tile-work and marble, recreating the façade of the building, gives back Anarkali her resting place; legend has it that she was buried alive. The effort to reconstruct the church is also a positive development. We have lost too much of our history due to neglect and a disinterest in preserving it. The sum of some five million rupees spent on the renovation is not wasted money.
It is also good news that the archaelogical department intends to go about the task of repairing other buildings. The Ghazi Khan tomb in Dera Ghazi Khan and the Sher Singh Samadhi top the list. It is crucial that we do not allow our past to fall apart, piece by piece. Other decaying buildings from the Mughal era stand across Punjab; others date back to the times of Sikh rule. Preserving them is important, so we know our legacy, can take pride in our history and also pass on a little more knowledge about it to future generations. This is what is required to keep our history alive and prevent it from dying away and being forgotten by time as the years pass on.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2013.