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City Diary: WCLA informally opens Shahi Hamam

City Diary: WCLA informally opens Shahi Hamam

The Walled City of Lahore Authority has informally opened the Shahi Hamam (royal bath) for tourists and public at large after restoring it.

The restoration of Shahi Hamam, which was constructed about 400 years ago inside Dehli Gate during the era of emperor Shah Jahan, was one of the important components of conservation works undertaken by the WCLA in collaboration with the foreign funding agencies under technical assistance of renowned cultural and heritage experts.

According to WCLA Director (Marketing) Asif Zaheer, the work on the restoration of the royal bath was launched about 18 months back exclusively by the local civil work experts under technical assistance of the Agha Khan Cultural Trust after the Norwegian government agreed to provide Rs40 million to the departments concerned.

“Though a formal inauguration is yet to be done by the chief minister, we informally opened the bath for tourists about 15 days back,” Mr Zaheer told Dawn.

He said the restoration experts did a great job by discovering the tubs through massive excavation work up to 15-foot depth and restoring it as per evidences indicating their use 400 years ago.

He said the restoration work reflected the bathing manner of the emperor, royal family members and the general public, including women, both with warm and cold water according to weather condition.

Talking about days fixed for taking a bath, the official said five days in a week were fixed for the royal family and notables and two days for general public (one day each for women and men).

He said the restored portions of the place include royal bath (half portion of the warm water bath and whole of normal water part), waiting area, original tubs fixed there, restroom, clothes changing room etc.

Terming restoration of the Shahi Hamam a complicated and unique work, the WCLA official said it was the project accomplished exclusively by the Pakistani conservationists.

”I think without technical assistance of the Agha Khan Cultural Trust and the Norwergian funding, restoration of the project was impossible, as we didn’t have such expertise before,” the official said.

He said the WCLA management had also deputed guides there to brief the tourists about history of the royal bath and its functioning.

For the first time, those playing with the health of people through selling unhygienic food are under strict monitoring of the departments concerned.

During the last 10 days or since the beginning of Ramazan on June 19, a number of restaurants, food outlets, factories and eateries were sealed and their owners were imposed heavy fines for getting their premises unsealed through the Punjab Food Authority field teams.

On the other hand, special teams of the City District Government Lahore headed by over 100 price control magistrates are active as they arrested scores of shopkeepers for overcharging and selling substandard commodities in open markets.

“We have constituted nine teams headed by food safety officers at town level. These teams are conducting raids at the food outlets, eateries and even at Ramazan bazaars,” PFA Director Ms Ayesha Mumtaz told Dawn.

She said during last week a number of restaurants, eateries and food production units were sealed for preparing food in an unhygienic environment.

According to the Lahore DCO, the magistrates detected 2,944 violations (both minor and major) of law related to overcharging, sale of substandard commodities, hoarding, non-display of rate lists at shops by the vendors.

“During the last 10 days, 2,038 shopkeepers involved in such offences were arrested after the magistrates got FIRs lodged against them. Of them 722 were sent to jail directly from their business premises after their summary trial was conducted by the respective magistrates on the spot, the DCO said.

He said another 988 vendors were also imposed fine totalling Rs2 million. —([email protected])

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2015

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