Light Within

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"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends" - Dr Martin Luther King Jr

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, April 10, 2021, ,

Gogera Sadar

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Situated on the bank of river Ravi on Okara Faisalabad Road, Gogera (Sadar) was once an important and dignified town in the plans of Central Punjab. It is reduced to a shabby and sleepy suburb of Okara today. Town still boasts its importance when it was British power centre and district headquarters from 1852 to 1865 and the part played by the resilient people of the area during War of Independence in 1857. The stories of the war that was fought around Gogera echo in the pages of history books.


The only historic building — a British court — that reminds of the colonial period has been converted into a school. The verandas of the old building with round arches have been clogged to create additional rooms and red thin bricks are covered with coats of whitewash. It was much better if the building could have been conserved in its original shape. That does not seem possible now.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, April 09, 2021, ,

Bloggy fusion

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, April 08, 2021, ,

Let the truth be told

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Philosophy helps us to understand how varying points of view about eternal truths, if there are any, are presented and psychology to know how philosophers come up with those points of view. Widely contradicting philosophies, what one sees happening in life all around and annoying discussions with his friend Mansoor Qureshi put Abbas Khan on a path to discover what is truth? 

Famous name in Urdu fiction (short story) Abbas Khan has written 13 novels and short story books (Zakham Gawah Hain, Tu Aur Tu and Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada (novels), Dharti Binam Akash, Tensikh-e-Insan, Qalam, Kursi Aur Wardi, U’s Adalat Men, Jism Ka Johar (short story books) and Reza Reza Keenat and Pal Pal (afsancha -- shortest story books) but this time he presenting his finding not in fiction but in hard truths.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, April 07, 2021, ,

Fine Art of Mud Architecture

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The future lies in mud architecture. Though this sweeping statement may sound prehistoric, but it is very relevant to modern times. Building living spaces with mud is a tradition dating as back as the start of civilization. Some excellent examples from the Great Mosque - the world’s largest mud building and UNESCO’s World Heritage site – to the oldest surviving mud specimens found in the Harappa, Pakistan, show the continuous use of mud buildings.


Having grown up in mud house myself (before I moved to urban center), mud buildings have a special place rooted deep in to my cultural consciousness and this personal bond encourages a more intimate relationship between me and the mud as the material transformed from formlessness to form. Hence my interest in mud architecture and how I see its future in Pakistan.

Why use Mud? Mud – a mixture of earth and water - is economical, practical, functional and attractive. It is easy to work with, and it takes decoration well. Mud is especially useful in humid and hot climates like we have in Pakistan. Mud is a natural material that is found in abundance, especially where other building materials such as bricks, stone or wood are scarce due to affordability and or availability. In Pakistan, use of mud has evolved from local necessity. Which is why the use of extremely sticky mud deposited found along river banks or elsewhere in Pakistan combined with appropriate technology makes an excellent material to build functional and climate friendly buildings.


Work has already started and many experts are critically analyzing the more purposeful use of mud as a building material. Dr. Gus Van Beek of the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History is working on a book in which he is examining methods of construction and varieties of designs in contemporary as well as ancient structures found at many places. Dr. Gus Van Beek’s research started when he uncovered arch and vault construction at Tel Jemmeh, Israel. Dr. Gus Van Beek is covering major types of construction in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan.

At local level, Society for the Promotion of Art and Culture (SPARC), registered in Lahore since 1994, is undertaking the task of revival of much needed mud architecture in Pakistan. SPARC planning to hold workshops at different art and architecture institutions in order to restart the traditional building with mud in rural as well as urban areas of Pakistan. These workshop will not only create awareness and initiate a thought process at gross roots level but will also train SPARC employees in mud architecture. Dr. Norbert Pintsch from Senior Expert Service (Bonn, Germany) is planning to present new techniques of mud building to adapt the construction technique mixed with appropriate technology in Pakistan.

Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch is an experienced architect by profession and mud enthusiast by choice. Since completing first building project as an architect at the age of 18, Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch has been in various activities as an architect and civil engineer all his life. One of the best starting point for Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch may be a mud building that stands in Peerzada Festival Area, Green Acre, Lahore. Renowned Pakistani architect like Ghayyoor Obaid are also keen on mud architecture there. Any other example that I know of is remains of Sher Shah Suri built mud fort in historic village Sher Ghar near Okara.

The mud architecture is a great resource that focuses on architecture constructed of mud brick, rammed earth, compressed earth block and other methods of earthen construction. The proliferation of concept to use mud and improved techniques in order to raise the level of living in the population is a very welcome idea and we in Pakistan need that. This can go a long way not only in the form of changing the look of population centers, rural as well as urban, but also in solving environmental problems and problems related to use of energy and other finite resources.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, April 06, 2021, ,

Where I Get My Supply of Salageet - Shilajit?

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Some places are so peaceful and unspoiled that it is almost unbelievable. One such locality is the picturesque, tranquil and pollution free (and undeveloped) boarder village Arrandu in district Chitral. The very sound of the name is musical. This village is located 'on' the Pakistan Afghanistan boarder. Dir-Chitral Road bifurcates near village Mir Khanni and a jeep able track along Kunar River leads to Arrandu through Domail Nisar and onwards into Afghanistan.


Gateway to the South Asia, the Chitral valley has been center of activity since ancient times. Macedonians advanced through this region in fourth century. In 1338, Timur subdued the area on his way to the plains of Punjab. Mughal King Akbar garrisoned here in 1587 and the British in 1897 in Chakdara on Dir side of Lowari Pass. Among soldiers who served here in Chakdara then was young Winston Churchill who later became Prime Minister of Britain. So far about the past importance of the valley but the little hamlet got the international fame during Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. It remained in the news and was commonly called as 'BBC Baby'.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, April 05, 2021, ,

Every thing is in the name

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Pervaiz Munir Alvi

The way a society names its cities and places says a lot about its cultural history and social values. Pakistan is no exception to this either.

The cultural history of Pakistan could be traced from its naming practice. The names of its ancient cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Multan have no resemblance to the names of the newer cities like Islamabad and Faisalabad. Similarly the name of the newer Qasim Port has no resemblance to the name of its sister Karachi Port or for that matter Gwadar Port. In the field of naming names Pakistani society has come a long way since the days of ancient Indus Valley Civilization of Harrapa and Moen-jo-Dero. Even the days of the names like Texila and Ghandara are long gone.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, April 03, 2021, ,

Battle within

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There are no chances of this horrible battle coming to an end.
UN will sure manage to end this.
No, no. I am not talking of war that has been imposed upon us.
Which battle are you talking about?
The one waging within!

Translated from Sitaroon Ki Bastiyan by Abbas Khan.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, April 02, 2021, ,

Calling Abdalians

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Comfortably tucked in green hills north of Islamabad, Hasan Abdal is situated right on the Grand Trunk Road. The town's claims to fame are Cadet College and temple of Panja Sahib. This small and clean historic town neat is sacred for Sikhs.

Hassan Abdal is famous for its cadet college and also serves as the gateway to some most stunning sites in Pakistan. It is from here that Karakoram Highways turns towards Northern Areas. It is a convenient halting point of Grand Trunk Road (G T Road) from where one can go to places like Abbotabad and Northern Areas, Peshawar, Taxila, Wah, Rawalpindi. Coins of the Greco-Bectrians kings discovered from the adjoining tract suggest that the area was inhabited in first century B.C. Accounts of Xuan Zang, a seventh century Chinese Buddhist traveler tells us that the place was also sacred to Buddhists. However, presently the town is associated with Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and Baba Wali Qandhari, a revered Muslim saint.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, March 31, 2021, ,

Dipalpur: If only walls spoke

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An important battlefield for centuries, Dipalpur is now a quite and peaceful town. It is situated at the distance of 25 Kilometres from Okara on an old bank of River Beas in Bari Doab. Dipalpur is famous in the history as an outpost that has played a significant part in the defence of Delhi kingdom against Mongol invasions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

History of Dipalpur dates back to ancient times. The coins of Sakas (Scythian) period found on the site suggest that the place was inhabited in 100 (BC). After Multan this is probably the oldest living city in the Subcontinent. General Alexander Cunningham writes that the place figures out in works of Ptolemy under different names. As per the tradition, Dipalpur was named after Raja Dipa Chand once he captured it. Dipalpur once used to be the first fortification in the way from Khyber to Delhi. In 1285, Muhammad Tughlaq son of Emperor Balban was killed in a bloody battle with Mongols and the famous poet Amir Khusuro was taken prisoner in Dipalpur. The dilapidated tomb where Muhammad Tughlaq rests stands neglected in a silent corner of the town, for removed from the noisy haunts of men.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, March 30, 2021, ,


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