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    Colonial era Chowk Yadgar needs KP Govt patronage to clear encroachment, restores its past glory

    Colonial era Chowk Yadgar needs KP Govt patronage to clear encroachment, restores its past glory

    PESHAWAR (APP): Being a gateway to Indo-Pakistan subcontinent with nearly 3,000 years old history, Peshawar carried a unique geographical location, historical buildings and archaeological heritage sites for the foreign and domestic tourists to explore.

    Chowk Yadgar is among one of the key historical monuments at Peshawar City that drawn foreign and domestic tourists in the past due its political and cultural significance besides Mughal-British architectural design. 

    Built in early 20th century near the historic Balahisar fort and Mohabat Khan Mosque, the visitors would be disappointed now to see piles of garbages, encorcement and traffic mess in its sorrounding that marred its orgional beauty.

    “Chowk Yadgar is the identity of Peshawar, and reclaiming of its encroached lands, shifting of washrooms and road would help restore its original grendure and prestige,” said Riazul Haq, an academician while talking to APP on Sunday.

    Almost in every election campaign in Pakistan since 1947, Chowk Yadgar and Jinnah  Park were centre of political actvities in Peshawar where top political leadership addressed Peshawarties and informed them about their parties manfestios,” he said.

    He said it was highly regrettable that the iconic square has been encroached by traders, currency dealers, vendors and shopkeepers after change of its historical design. The past governments had paid a deaf ear to address its poor road engineering and building designs issues, he added.

    “The historic monument had witnessed the vigour of Afridi tribesmen and British army after the former tried to expel the latter from Balahisar fort,” said Bakhtzada Khan, senior research officer, Archealogy and Museums Department while talking to APP.

    It also saw international traders, who stayed at historic Qissa Khwani bazaar where they exchanged tales of each others culture, civilization, music and heritage besides political development in the region while enjoying the mouthwatering Chappli Kabab with traditional Qehwa before coming here.

    The old name of chowk yadgar was Hastings Memorial. Famous historian S.M. Jaffar in his book ‘Peshawar City on the Frontier’ states that Hasting Memorial was erected in 1892 in the memory of Col EC Hastings, who died on December 2, 1884.

    “The square was named after the heroes of 1965 war in 1969. The structure of chowk yadgar was changed several times in the past. It was famous venue for political rallies and protest demonstrations till recent past.”

    “Originally, chowk yadgar had been constructed in the early 20th century to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Peshawar in 1905,” Bakhtzada said. Its main structure is a grand archway with four minarets and a dome at the top. The archway is decorated with intricate floral designs and calligraphy in Persian and Urdu languages.

    The square is surrounded by several bazaars and traditional shops, giving it a vibrant and bustling atmosphere in the past.

    He said its original structure was a grand archway that marked the entrance to the city, but it was destroyed in a flood in 1929.

    The square is once a home to several traditional street food vendors, making it a popular destination for food lovers.

    Chowk yadgar has undergone several renovations and restorations to preserve its historical significance. 

    It was completely renovated in 2017 with the installation of new fountains, lighting, and seating areas that was now hardly seen.

    “Its hurts me to see that chowk yadgar has become a permanent abode of drug addicts, who could be seen sleeping here. The pedestrians are forced to cover their noses while passing through it to avoid foul smell of the garbages, washrooms and pollution,” said MIsal Khan, a retired Govt officer.

    “I had seen top politcal leaders of Pakistan came here for addressing masses and election rallies in its vast ground that was now squeezed to a few kanals marred by encroachment,” he said.

    He demanded regular cleanness, shifting of washrooms and removal of encroachment from chowk yadgar to restore its original grandure and make it again centre of cultural and political activities of Peshawar.

    He also demanded showcasing such historical monuments through digital media to generate revenue through promotion of tourism and inclusion in curriculum for education of students.

    Illegal structures in its vicinity should be immediately removed and traffic to be diverted besides arrangements for lighting to make it again centre of attraction for political and cultural activities in Peshawar.

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