Crumbling history: Archaeology department demolishes parts of Gor Ghatri

The dept claims upper portion of the building does not have historical significance.

Sarhad Conservation Network secretary claims officials at the archeology department are ignorant to think that parts of the building being demolished do not have historical value. PHOTO: IQBAL MAMOOND/EXPRESS


The Archaeology Department is once again set on wiping out parts of Gor Gathri on the pretext of it not being part of the actual historical site.

“The committee has decided to remove the upper portion of the eastern side of the building where some bathrooms and kitchens have been constructed as those areas do not have any historical significance,” said Archaeology Department Director Shah Nazer Khan.

The department says the upper portion of the building was established later by the city’s development authority, adding that beneath the construction are cells dating back to the Mughal era. If the building is not demolished, the original cells will be damaged because the boundary walls are in dilapidated condition.

After the eastern wall of Gor Gathri was damaged by heavy rains, more stress is being put on reconstructing parts of the site instead of restoring it.

“We have given orders to make the same type of brick and reconstruct the walls and other portions according to its original façade,” added Khan.

The authorities’ decision to have the walls reconstructed poses a threat to the originality of the antique building that shelters a Hindu temple, a mosque, museum as well as a library.

While talking about the site’s ownership, the director said it was under the federal government until the 18th Amendment was passed, but now the provincial government is responsible for heritage sites. Khan added that recently the Peshawar Development Authority and city government had worked on preserving the area.

However, Sarhad Conservation Network Secretary Dr Adil Zareef said: “Authorities at the archeological department are very ignorant if they think some parts of the building do not have historical significance.”

“Everything older than 50 years has become history, so how can they decide to wipe out parts of the building on the pretext that they are not historical?”

“Gor Gathri is a product of history, from the Mughal, Sikh and the British eras. The buildings have seen their worst in the hands of Pakistani governments,” said Zareef.

Residents say all the government has done is demolish and reconstruct parts of the building, adding that the site has decayed enough to fall down any moment.

Gor Gathri, which dates back 2,000 years, is the oldest citadel in the city. The site is also mentioned in Mughal Emperor Babar’s memoirs.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2013.


Stranger | 11 years ago | Reply

Sad.What will we bequeath to our children. If its any consolation of any kind ,then even India is like this in many respects . We have more sites of historical and cultural interest than US but look at how US takes care . Look at how we mess up things. Babar must be turning in his grave.

Qissa Khwani | 11 years ago | Reply

What else do you expect from a (specialised) department like Directorate Archaeology KP that is run by corrupt and incompetent political favourites, appointed out of merit to serve only the minister and to make a personal fortune from such shady and shoddy contractor driven projects. The KP province is rich in archaeological wealth which is dying fast, but over here "cats have been appointed to keep watch on milk". Thank you Express for exposing these culprits

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