Shaheed Ganj Gurdawara

Shaheed Ganj (Place of Martyrs) is situated close to the Lahore Railway Station. To reach the place, head north on Empress Road towards the Railway Station. Just past the Government College of Technology, a road veers to the west towards Landa Bazaar. After a short distance, the road bifurcates into Naulaka Bazaar and Shaheed Ganj Road. Shaheed Ganj Road eventually turns into Landa Bazaar and just before that, a door on the right side of the road leads into the compound of Shaheed Ganj Singhnian Gurdawara. Today, a handsomely built double-storied gurdawara of recent vintage stands in the centre of courtyard.

Previously, this place was known as Ghora Nakas (horse market) but during the viceroyalties of Zakariya Khan, Yahya Khan and Mir Mannu, according to some historians, at least 250,000 Sikh men and women were martyred here and henceforth this place became known as Shaheed Ganj. There are a number of other structures in the compound including rooms and cells where Sikh women were confined and forced to grind grain on mills. There is also well in one corner of the compound where, according to some historians, many of the dead bodies were dumped.

In the same courtyard, before 1935 there had also stood a beautiful mosque for many years. The mosque had three domes and five arches.  It was originally known as Abdullah Khan Mosque on the account of it having been built by Abdullah Khan during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Abdullah Khan was a cook of Prince Dara Shikoh, elder son of Shah Jahan, who rose up to the position of kotwal of Lahore for his services. The mosque was ultimately completed in 1134 AH or 1722 AD by Falak Beg Khan. According to the deed, Sheikh Din Mohammad and his descendants were appointed its trustee. After the annexation of Lahore by the Bhangi Sikhs, the mosque and the adjoining land came into their possession and a shrine was built over the site where Bhai Taru Singh was killed and the mosque came to be used as a residence for Sikh priests and students. After the British annexation of Punjab in 1849, the mosque became a bone of contention between the Muslims and the Sikhs.  On April 17, 1850, Nur Ahmad, a resident of Lahore, claiming to be a trustee of the mosque filed a case against Bhai Jiwan Singh and Ganda Singh for possession of the mosque. The court was not convinced of the genuineness of the claim and the suit was dismissed. Nur Ahmad filed suits one after the other from 1853 to 1883, but each time, the courts maintained status quo. In March 1935, the Sikhs took up renovation of the compound and planned to demolish the dilapidated building of the mosque. Tensions grew rapidly and a large Muslim crowd gathered near the mosque to prevent its demolition. On July 6, 1935, a Muslim delegation met Herbert Emerson, then Governor of Punjab, and suggested to him that government should take over the building in public interest by paying compensation to the Sikhs and hand it over to the archaeological department. But before Emerson could consider the Muslim proposals, on July 8, 1935, before midnight, the Sikhs began demolishing the mosque and by morning it was razed to the ground. This led to months of riots and disorder in Lahore. In August of 1935, the Sikhs secured the municipal government's sanction for construction of a gurdawara on the site of the mosque.

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