Brief History of pakpattan
Pakpattan is the city of the great Saint Baba Farid of Chistia legacy.Word Pakpattan is made of two words PAK and PATTAN meaning clean docland(Pattan means a dockland or place where ships or boats stop).The city is given this name by Saint Farid.It is said, once Saint Farid having ablution on the bank of the River Sutlej,one local man told Saint this water is unclean and place is dirty then Saint Farid replied to him “no its clean water and place’ in local language “Pak Pattan”Pakpattan is the famous district of Province Punjab, also known as the city of saints. Many Muslim sofi saints worked here for the glory of Islam. Other then Muslims, Sikh spritual leaders also did meditation in this region. The old name of pakpattan was Ajodhan.
The great saint sofi Baba Groo Nanak of Sikh faith also visited here. The Baba Faried ud din qutab (Al Masood) also stayed here for the preaching of Islam, By the virtue of his preach and his great deeds, thousands of local population (Hindus) of his time accepted the teachings of Islam. Still the Mureedin of Baba Farid comes from all over the sub-continent and many came and pass through the Bab-e-Baheest (Just a local ritual of passing through the gate in Pakpattan). Near the Pakpatan, Mlaka Hans is situated where Punjabi philosophar and known poet all over Punjab, Warris Shah wrote his famous book of love story “Heer Waris ShahPakpattan – the name is enough to start the travelers, cautiously curious and devoted faithful dreaming.
Already the magic words like sultans and saints are stirring in the head. Let your gaze slip over the dhaki – original citadel of Pakpattan – and the town will suddenly appear. The antiquity is its own message: the town is heritage, and heritage permeates the town.Enter the once walled inner-city through one of the existing gates and you will find yourself in archetypal form of an ancient town – crooked and narrow streets, dense housing, intricate woodwork on Jharokas, bay windows and doors. So many historic cities have developed losing much of their original character in the process during modern times, but Pakpattan has survived remarkably in tact.It is the entire urban fabric of the place that is historic. Though, the major portion of the fortification wall has disappeared. At places, the wall has even been utilized as a part of the residences. Four gates (Shahedi, Rehimun, Abu and Mori) have survived out of six but they are all crumbling. Now extensive suburbs stretch from the foot of the wall all around.
Thin red bricks from centuries old wall are seen used in the new houses all over the town. The portion of the settlement that sits on the mound can be compared with walled part of Multan City.The remains of peripheral wall with ancient mystique define the inner portion that is totally pedestrian, vehicular traffic and modern development contained out of the wall. Homes have also retained their essential trait despite renovations to make them comfortable for modern living or to create additional space for more families. You can see the mythical woodwork, murals as well as tiled facades and colorful patterns in old havelies.General Alexander Cunningham has recognized Pakpattan, anciently known as Ajudhan, as a town that appears in the work of Hellenic historians and other classic writers under the names of Ohydrakae, Sydrakae, Sudraykae and or Hydaekae.
Two strategic roads of the past – one from Dera Ghazi Khan and other from Dera Ismail Khan – used to meet here. Great conquerors like Mahmud Ghaznavi, Taimur and traveler like Ibn-e-Batuta crossed Sutlaj from Pakpattan that had been principal ferry on River Sutlaj for centuries.Medieval history of the town started when Amir Subuktagin subdued Pakpattan in 980 (AD) followed by Ibrahim Ghaznavi in 1080. Even today, the thought that Taimur during his invasion in 1398 spared the lives of those who had not fled the place, out of respect for the shrine of saint Baba Farid, inspire reverence.The soul of the city is famous saint Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar commonly known as Baba Farid. The saint was born in a village Kothewal (near Multan) in 1173 in a family that had migrated from Afghanistan. Saint, scholar and poet, Baba Farid traveled to Khurasan, Kirman, Badakhshan, Baghdad, Mecca Muazzma, Madina Munawara, Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Nishapur, Bukhara, Dehli and Multan before he finally settled in Pakpattan.
Here he spent his life in spreading the light of divine Islam.It was due to the religious services and personal example of the saint that Islam spread in this part of the Subcontinent and many people including Hindu Jogi Birnath along with his followers came into the folds of Islam. The saint died in 1265 and his shrine was constructed by Khwaja Nizam ud Din Auleya in 1267.Splendors of the ‘Farid Complex’ fire the imagination. The shrine – simple and destitute of ornament – stands next to the bigger shrine of his grandson Ala ud Din Mouj Darya, which was built by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq. The main chamber of the shrine of Baba Farid has two doors – one in the East is called Noori Darwaza and the other in South in famous Baheshti Darwaza. Besides the principal grave of the saint, there is another grave in the chamber where his son Badr ud Din Suleman is buried.
The ample, pure and unadorned architecture is very inspiring. Urs of the saint is celebrated in the month of Muharram but large of devotes stream into the shrine everyday. You can also see Qawwal groups performing and malangs falling in state of trance mostly on Thursdays.Both the principal shrines are in good condition but the adjoining ancient mosque has decayed. Auqaf is constructing a new mosque nearby as a part of Farid Complex. Besides the shrines of Baba Farid and Mouj Darya, there are over twenty shrines of saintly persons in the town. Most eminent out of these is the shrine of Baba Aziz Makki.There is a whole different world outside the shrine parameters. Cubbyhole shops selling deathbed spreads, flowers, big bangles and sweets (for niaz) known as Makhane and eating joints are lined up in both the streets leading to the shrine.
Business in the streets is thriving because devotees ‘must’ take something home from the shrine. Sleazy sounding and persistent beggars flock around devotees heading for the shrine. People are seen distributing free food: cooked food is available for sale in large quantity round the clock. A philanthropist from Karachi is running a separate Lunger Khana at his own expense since 1995. Bustling with activity, the place seems to have its own culture.How the name Ajudhan was changed to Pakpattan? It is a fact that name Pakpattan (meaning pure ferry) distinguished due to the home and last resting-place of Baba Farid. According to a local lore, Mughal King Akbar on the eve of his visit to the shrine to pay homage to the saint declared Pakpattan as an official name of the town. The thought that so many people including Ibn-e-Batuta, Guru Nanik Dev Jee and Waris Shah had visited the shrine evokes awe and aura of eternity.Wandering about in the older part of town near the relics of Kacha Burj – defensive tower that was erected by Haibat Khan during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, you can think about the strategic importance of this town in the bygone era. But, during Mughal time when danger from the North reduced, the town lost its defensive significance.Pakpattan was first declared district headquarters in 1849 when British rule established in the Subcontinent. The headquarters were later moved to Gugera in 1852 and then to Sahiwal in 1856.
British also instituted Pakpattan Municipal Committee in 1868. Kasur-Lodhran section of Railway line was laid in 1910 and Pakpattan became an important station on the Railway map because of railway divisional headquarters and loco sheds. Though this section of railway line was torn apart and sent to Mesopotamia during Second World War and the town could not prosper as an agricultural market in those days. On July 1, 1990, Pakpattan was again declared district headquarters. This became the only district of the country without any tehsil until Arifwala tehsil was included in the district in 1995.In the out skirt of Pakpattan about 12 miles away there is a small village town called MALKA HANS where the famous Punjabi writer Waris Shah wrote his famous book Heer, Waris Shah.
When Punjab fell into the hands of Britishers, due to its historical importance and value, the British given a Pakpattan,a significant value.Pakpattan was made a Distrct Headquarter and only district between Lahore and Multan. Two big and gigantic water canals Khadar Canal & Pakpattan Canal were dugged and constructed at left and right sides of city. These two canals are of hundreds miles long. A Colony Officer and a Colony Magistrate was posted in the area. As far the area of canals irrigating,all the disputes and land revenues cases of the irrigating areas were brought before the Colony Officers and Magistrate courts. A big and grand train station built in the city area to connect all the irrigating areas that was as far away as Bahawalpur State and the areas of today Mailsi and Khanewal. Once Tehsil Pakpattan was the biggest tehsil administrative area in the British Raj.
The ruins of grand administrative area can seen in once called “Colony Areas’ where big and grand old court houses and British Officers residences tell its stories.Train station was so busy and big that can serve hundreds of passangers at same time. The ruins of its granduer can be seen at old Ticket houses and waiting areas. Many trains were departing daily towards Bahawalpur and Lahore to cover the areas between these cities. Now a days Pakpattan train station is deserted and only one train leaves daily.Once road tranportation was not good and easy then this train station was a big source of link in the area. But due administrative reasons and mainly was to protect British Officers from freedom fighter during Great Mutiny, another small and peaceful village Sahiwal then called Montgomery given the status of district and Pakpattan was made its Tehsil. Till 1991, Pakpattan remained Tehsil Headquarters of Sahiwal District formerly Montgomery District. From 1991, it has been given the status of District Headquarters and Arifwala has become its 2nd Tehsil.Pakpattan is so deeply influenced by Saint Baba Farid that a lot of visitors and faith lovers daily visiting his beautiful white marbled shrine.
Many shops have their names on the name of Saint Baba Fareed. Pakpattan is also called PAKPATTAN SHARIF because many of Saint Farid’s lovers and fowllers think it derogatory to call even city name without respect.Once Pakpattan was situated at River Sutlej,as other world cities flourished on the banks of rivers.By the passage of time Sutlej River has changed its course and now flowing three miles away from todays city areas. Pakpattan is the ancient Ajoodhun or Ajj-u-dhan’, which probably derived its name from the [Yaudheya] tribe (the modern Johiyas). Before it was named as Ajoodhun, some believe that it was called ‘Katora’. Old city prior to Saint Farid was sacred to Hindu religion. Old city is established on a big mound called DHAKI meaning “something hidden’. This Dhaki is on higher altitude than the area around, there were gates to enter in the city.
It is said that city was destroyed seventeen times in the history by great warriors. All times then after destruction a new city was built on the ruins of old city, because of this a big mond made up. From a very early date it was a place of importance, as the principal ferry across the Sutlej River and the meeting-place of the great western roads from Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan. The city was on the way to Multan State and Delhi Empire.All warriors were travelling from Multan to Dehli or Dehli to Multan were crossing this city. This city was important in the line of defence all the times. A road called “Dehli Multan Road’ road was constructed by Sher Shah Suri. The Land marks of Dehli Multan Road are still in use by Punjab Road Transporation Department. Anybody can read the mileage of Dehli and Multan at any time in all over the area, only present in modern times in this area.
The fort defending the city was once captured by Sebüktegin in 977-8 A.D and by Ibrahim Ghaznavi in 1079-80 A.D.According to Farishta,an old writer and historian, in the year 1079 A.D its fort was conquered by Ibrahim Ghaznavi/Ibrahim Bin Masaud Ghaznavi. The town owes its sanctity and modern name, ‘the holy ferry’, to the shrine of the great Muslim Sufi Fariduddin Ganjshakar Shaikh-ul-Islam, Farid-ul-Hakkwa-ud-Din, Shakar Ganj (1173-1265A.D) which was visited by old great traveller and historian Ibn Batuta in 1334A.D. The town was besieged by Shaikha; the Khokhar, in 1394 A.D, and in 1398 A.D was visited by Timur, Mughal Emperor who spared much of the inhabitants as had not fled, out of respect for the shrine of the saint. It was the scene of two of Khizr Khan’s victories over generals of the Delhi 1401 and 1405A.D.
The shrine of Baba Farid attracts crowds of followers, its sanctity being acknowledged as far as Afghanistan and Central Asia. The urs (death anniversary) of Saint Farid is observed every year in Islamic/lunar month of Muharram, that lasts for ten days. Hundreds of thousands pilgrims and visitors come every year to pay homage to this great Saint. The principal event of urs is crossing of gate that called Bahishti Darwaza(Gate of Heavens). Followers believe by crossing this gate all of your sins are pardoned and one becomes neat and clean again. Some critics say it is unholy to cross this gate with this intention but believe its sanctity. Critics argue it is good to cross this gate with resolution not to do sins in future life. This “Gate To Heavens’ remains open ten consecutive nights after sunset to sunrise and padlocked during the day time.
This gate is padlocked all the year except these ten days.During British rule Pakpattan Town was headquarters of the tehsil of the same name in Montgomery District, 29 miles south-east of Montgomery station on the North-Western Railway. The municipality was created in 1867, the population in 1901 was 6,192. During the ten years ending 1902-3 the income averaged Rs. 7,200, and the expenditure Rs. 7,000. The income in 1903-4 was Rs. 8,400, chiefly derived from octroi; and the expenditure was Rs. 7,300. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India: Pakpattan is a town of some commercial importance, importing wheat, cotton, oilseeds,and pulses from the surrounding villages, gur and refined sugar from Amritsar, Jullundur, and the United Provinces, piece-goods from Amritsar, Delhi, and Karachi, and fruits from Afghanistan. The exports consist principally of cotton, wheat, and oilseeds. The town has a local manufacture of silk lungis and lacquer-work. It contains a vernacular middle school and a dispensary. From 1849 to 1852 it was the head-quarters of the District.Now a days Pakpattan is one of the pooriest/non industial area in the region.
The only big industry is one Sugar mill that is called “Itefaq Sugar Mills’ which employes some dozens workers from Pakpattan and surrounding areas.Most of city is unplanned and un-urbanised.Small houes and unpaved roads full of pitfalls are its symbol of the day. There is no any intercity transport system, only transportation is by Rickshaw(Qinqi rickshaw). Before the advent of rickshaws transportation was done by horse drawn carriage called Tanga. Once there was a big industry of Tonga’s and its accesories developed in the city area and hundreds of the workers were employed by this industry.Once Pakpattan was recorded as a city with most Tanga(s) in the country. Now only few Tanga(s) can be seen on the roads. Most of the people are employed in shopkeeping business.
Old city area called Dhaki has old and unique designed houses with carved work on its doors, and small and narrow streets. There is no any modern housing colony or urbanised housing structure in city. A small Public Library is run by Local Municipal Committee with few hunred books. Once there was a big library that had thousands of books was destroyed by lack of Municipal Authorities interests. Pakpattan is situated at the borders of the south and north Punjab. It is the last district of south Punjab and start of north Punjab. Local language is Punjabi and its accent is nearer to Lahore accent but has some Siraki impression as well.People are courteous and hospitable.A small christian community also lives here and a small Protestant Church is as well there.It was renamed Pak Pattan (meaning “Clean Land” in old Punjabi) after arrival of Sufi Saint Baba Fareed whose shrine is located here – today people come all over the world to pass through a gate called “Bahishti Darwaza” or Heavens Gate to the shrine from the 1st of Muharram to 5th of Muharram every year.Hazrat BABA FAREED was the greatest personality of India liked by Allah Subhana o ta`ala,BABA Fareed (R.A.) was married out with the daughter of the King of that era,Ghayyas-ud-din Balban. The founder of the Sikh Faith Guru Nanak had reverence to Baba Fareed and hence Sikhs also come here to pay tribute. In 1770 after a battle between Mobarak Khan II of Bahawalpur and Hari Singh, it was agreed that “the neutral town of Pakpattan, held by a Musalman saint of eminence, should be the common boundaryBaba Farid settled down in a place very next to his current shrine. Once this place was marked with a tall flag that can be seen from the entrance of the main mosque of the shrine. He started preaching the Hindus about Islam. In a short time, a huge number of Hindus in the region embraced Islam.
Those who did not, became ardent followers of Baba Farid and often visited him to seek spiritual guidance.His shrine was quite old by 1990s. Government of Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan ordered the development of a large complex with a grant of RS40 Millions. Due to changes of the government, the project faced several delays and continues until today. As a part of the project, the old historical mosque was demolished despite opposition by the Department of Archaeology and Museums to preserve the old historical mosque. During the 1990s, the old ‘Hujra’ (the praying room) of Baba Farid’s dearest pupil and son-in-law Khwaja Makhdoom Alauddin Ahmed Sabir was also renovated by the government. The new ‘Hujra’ is an imitation of the design of the original ‘Dargah’ of Khwaja Makhdoom Alauddin Ahmed Sabir in Kaliyar Sharif (Roorkee).