Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s agenda of promoting tourism is not only limited to the mighty mountains and scenic beauty of the North. The PTI government has shifted its focus on improving the infrastructure of historical buildings. In November last year, Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor, a sacred place for Sikhs. Kartarpur gurdwara is a visa-free border between Pakistan and India. The Potohar region is a hub for businesses and has a rich partition history. The busy bazaars of Rawalpindi hide its rich past.
The Potohar Political Giant
Rai Sardar Sujan Singh was a prominent businessman in the Rawalpindi region. He was a passionate Sikh, and his allegiance lied with the British government. In the 1890s, he laid down the foundation of the majestic Sujan Singh Haveli. Sujan Singh threw grand dinners for the British high officials. Like, many other historical places in Pakistan, Sujan Singh Haveli is in ruins. No one took care of the Haveli after Sujan Singh family left for India.
The Haveli was home to Kashmiri refugees until 1980. Fatima Jinnah Women University administered the Haveli in recent times, but handed it out to the National College of Arts (NCA) Rawalpindi in 2015. Saddar, Rawalpindi, had a famous Odeon Cinema. Sujan was a people’s person. He gifted this cinema and a library to the people of the region. However, the administration demolished the cinema recently. The Sujan Singh family went to India during the 1947 Partition.
Sujan Singh Haveli is a four-story building, located in the busy Bhabra bazaar. The intriguing and unique wood carved entrance doors is a piece of art. It has a traditional touch to it with open verandas and airy windows. Singh imported the material used in building this artistic haveli from Europe mainly. From unique doors to curved staircases, artistic ceilings and, the iron-laden foundation, everything showcases the magnificent Sikh haveli.
Conversion into a tourist spot:
Commissioner retired Captain Mohammad Mehmood is appointed as the head for gathering information about these historic buildings. He gave an interview to DAWN News and explained the plan in detail:
“We are working to present the culture of the Potohar region and in this regard, the Parks and Horticulture Authority and other civic bodies will ensure the reflection of the local culture in its beautification drives,”
The government has decided to spend a staggering Rs. 240 million. This amount will be used to renovate the Haveli and seven gurdwaras around it. The renovation uplift includes a rooftop cafe. The majestic view of gurdwaras and temples will be visible through it. The government will also construct a museum manifesting the history of Sikhs. The government-led renovation will evoke the curiosity of history lovers. There are many historical places to visit in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Islamabad has numerous museums, including internationally acclaimed: Pakistan Monument Museum and Lok Virsa. However, this new addition will increase the influx of tourists to this important city.