LAHORE: The Samadhi of Jhinger Shah Suthra, located outside the northern perimeter wall of the Lahore Fort, has been restored by the Punjab Archaeology Department and opened for tourists. The entire structure was earlier in shambles and used to go unnoticed by tourists because of its deplorable condition and wild plantation around it.
According to sources, the temple is among the few remaining Hindu structures in Lahore which were intact to some extent and had the potential to attract tourism, but because of its dilapidated condition, the structure was considered an abandoned site and the public was not well-informed about its historic significance.
A local tourist guide, Muhammad Javed, said that it was the only original site located in Lahore which belonged to the Suthra sect of Hindus. “Jhinger Shah belonged to Lahore and died here. The Samadhi was built on the same place where Suthra was cremated after his death. He was the founder of the Suthra sect, which means pure, and was a respected vagrant in the times of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir.”
“It is said that Jhinger was born with a black mark on his forehead and for that reason was considered unlucky by his family and was abandoned. He was found by the disciples of Guru Hargobind, who gave him the title of Suthra to bring him out of the guilt of having a black mark. There came a time when he became respectable among the people and on the orders of the Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir was allowed to collect one paisa per shop from different cities,” Javed said, adding that till now the Suthras were known as royal beggars and were still seen in different parts of India.
Another tourist guide at the fort, Waleed, said that the Samadhi of Jhinger Shah Suthra was an unnoticed structure until it was fully restored and the passage leading to it was renovated by the Parks and Horticulture Authority.
Archaeology Deputy Director Malik Maqsood informed Pakistan Today that the Punjab government took a positive step for the conservation, stabilisation and restoration of the Samadhi of Jhinger Shah Suthra and an annual development scheme had been approved.
“The major components of the restoration work of this Samadhi include consolidation of structures, repairing of cracks, restoration of missing portions, marble slabs with carving and stone inlay work as per original designs, restoration of marble perforated grills, flooring, ceilings, plaster, flooring, courtyard, doors and the parapets,” Maqsood added.
He said that the structure was damaged by the mobs after the incident of Babri Mosque in 1992. “The monument was damaged by the people and the decoration and embellishment were plundered. Many Sikh Associations had been requesting us for its conservation as it is a sacred place to them,” Maqsood said.