–Mughal-era structure successfully conserved at total cost of Rs4.4 million
–WCLA conservation and planning director says entire site restored in line with international standards
LAHORE: After successfully conserving it at a total cost Rs4.4 million, Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has opened the previously dilapidated Musamam Gate of the Lahore Fort for public, Pakistan Today has learnt.
According to the details, the conservation of the gate – located near the fort’s Royal Kitchen – had started in April 2018 and almost 123,000 cubic feet of debris, garbage and waist-high shrubs were removed as a part of the process.
“It was an extremely difficult task as the entire area was covered in wild plantation whereas the gate being buried under debris made us wonder if it was never cleared before,” labour force working on the finishing of the restored gate told Pakistan Today.
The gate was severely damaged and about to collapse when we started the conservation process, they said. “However, it has successfully been restored now and we are clearing the site so that the tourists do not face any problems here.”
“Tourists were not earlier allowed to enter the gate area owing to its dilapidated condition and lack of a proper entrance,” Muhammad Ahmed, a tourist guide at the fort, said.
Speaking of its significance, Ahmed said the gate was once Lahore Fort’s main entrance and was built by Emperor Shah Jahan. “It is assumed that it was connected to the Shah Burj Gate and WCLA’s teams are now excavating further to verify this. During Shah Jahan’s tenure, the Royal Kitchen was linked to the Shah Burj, Sheesh Mahal and Moti Masjid with a garden in between. The British built this road and separated these areas.”
It is said that the royals and their servants entered the fort through this gate and it was closed at sunset, he said.
“Due to all the debris, the gate used to go unnoticed by the people visiting fort, however, now that it has been restored and is illuminated at night, it sure will grab everyone’s attention.”
A tourist, Saira Habib while talking to Pakistan Today said, “I never knew that such a structure existed inside the Lahore Fort. It was something new for me when the guide took me there and I can’t say that I’m not impressed with the quality of conservation work.”
“The gate has been conserved with an amount of Rs4.4 million. Since the fort is a World Heritage Site, we have followed the international guidelines of conservation so that the sanctity of the site isn’t damaged,” WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najam Saquib told this scribe.
“All the material used in conservation has been tested, treated and matched with the original and we have completed the process within the stipulated period of one year while working really hard,” he said and added that underground chambers and tunnels were also discovered during the excavation.
“The original floors, ramps, pavements, huge wooden doors of the gate, beams and the ceilings exposed during the process have also been conserved,” Najam said.
He added that the wooden door was the most beautiful part of the gate which was broken since ages; however, it had now been repaired and illuminated and would sure be a treat for anyone visiting the fort at night.