The seven gates of Bahawalpur
Much like Lahore’s more famous gates, these doorways were built to guard entry and exit points into the main city. 200 years ago, these gates were commissioned by the Abbassi heir.
Of the original gates, only the Fareed Gate remains at its original address. The rest were rebuilt a few years ago to remind residents of their rich heritage. Among the six that were rebuilt, ‘Bohardh Gate’ is as yet under construction.
Fareed Gate was originally named ‘Bhikaneeri Gate’ because it faced that other princely state, Bhikaneer. Similarily, ‘Multani Gate’ was named so because it faced the city of saints.
‘Ahmedpuri Gate’ and ‘Deraori Gate’ were also named for the directions they faced. The traditional structures and cultural heritage of these cities were well-reflected in the doors that carried their names.
The Bohardh Gate had a more whimsical bent to its name. It was named after, and built with the wood of, the Bohardh tree. Before the modern age destroyed almost all of the natural heritage of the area, Bahawalpur was almost covered with the huge trees. Today, barely a few dozen survive within the limits of the city.
The origins of naming the ‘Mohri Gate’ are unclear. Locals are conflicted about why the entryway to the Nawab’s city was named Mohri. Was it because the original gate carried the official emblem (mohr) of the State of Bahawalpur? Or was there another, more romantic explanation for christening the gate Mohri? Whatever the explanation, with time, the name got shortened into a cruder, rougher version of the original.
It was now, simply, ‘Mori Gate’, literally, a hole.
The original gates are long gone, razed to dust by time, a lack of awareness of their history and urban sprawl. The new gates perhaps are not as grand as the original ones. Yet they do serve as reminders of a time gone by, when Nawabs drove through the city in their magnificent carriages, when Bahawalpur was nothing if not magnificent.
Muhammad Jawad Nazir