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    Encroachment mars three historical gardens of Mughal era

    Encroachment mars three historical gardens of Mughal era

    PESHAWAR (APP): Three historical gardens, which were established during Mughal era in the heart of Peshawar City, have been marred by an encroachment and plastic pollution.

    Wazir Bagh, Shalimar Gardens and Jinnah Park (old Canningum park) where seasonal flowers and Guli Dawoodi were blossom in the past, were losing its greenery owing to encroachment, dirt, environmental and plastic pollution besides changing weather patterns and required upkeeping to restore its orgional grandure.

    A visitor could be disappointed to see the scattered plastic, garbages and dirt pollution at Wazir Bagh that was once known for lush greenery with abundance of flowers and pipal trees besides Guli Dawoodi attracted tourists in abundance.

    The days were gone now when joy of small kids was boundless while seeing colourful butterflies hovering over flowers and dense pipal trees in Wazir Bagh where greenery has started dying due to improper upkeeping, encroachment and increased urbanization.

    “Chasing butterflies and hide and seek of small children among the thickly grown pipal trees used to be a great fun and laughter but all these charms wore off as the time passed by and today this historic garden was giving barely a deserted look” said Qaisar Khan (65), a resident of Wapda Town.

    “It was heartening that Wazir Bagh had lost its pipal trees that were so thick that one would get the impression of night even during broad daylight with children playing around their parents,” he said.

    Wazirbagh is located at Yakatooth in South of Peshawar City on vast land and was a source of recreation for Peshawarties over centuries. 

    The oldest garden used to be comfortable place for senior citizens while sitting under the cold shade of pipal trees in soothing environment coupled with chirping of birds and exchanged views of their life experiences and day to day happenings.

    He said Wazir Bagh was used for morning exercises by Peshawarites due to its awesome walking tracks, lush green lawns and became a unique source of recreation and picnic spot.

    “Today, it is disappointing to see missing chirping birds, colourful butterflies and ladybirds due to vanishing of the canopy pipal trees at Wazir Bagh due to lackluster approach of the local communities, past government, deforestation and improper up keeping.”

    “Since my childhood, I used to visit this historic park along with my father for exercise on its beautiful tracks snaking through its thickly grown tall pipal trees with people sitting around in sprawled lawns in its pleasant environment,” Riaz Khan, a retired PST teacher told APP.

    Recalling his past memories, he said, tourists were highly impressed by its sprawled lawns, fountains, pods, apricots, peaches, pomegranates trees and colourful flowers.

    He said Shinwaris, Afridis, Mohmands, Shalmani, Bangash, Bajauris and Khattaks besides domestic and foreign tourists used to come here in droves to spend sometime in a relaxed environment under its shady trees. 

    It was also a great source of study for students of nearby Government Superior Science College due to its conducive environment and for sports athletes.

    “I came to my favorite garden after 30 years where I was disappointed to see the pathetic condition of its two vast lawns, fountains’ pool, dying greeny and withered pipal trees at Wazir Bagh,” he said.

    He urged the KP government to take cogent measures for its complete rehabilitation, planting of pipal trees and impose complete ban on free movement of people inside the historic garden.

    He said fixation of entry fee would help check free movement of people besides closing of its football ground to help protect its greenery from further degradation.

    Wazir Bagh garden was constructed in 19th century when Prince Shah Mahmood Durrani sent his forces under the command of Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Barkzai alias Wazir against his cousion Shah Shuja, who was the ruler of Peshawar.

    In 1810, Sardar Fateh Muhammed had toppled Shah Shuja rule and laid the foundation of Wazir Bagh garden. It has a Royal Durrani graveyard in its South and Tomb of Beejo Bibi, a Mistress of Shah Taimur son of Emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali nearby, which are attracting tourists.

    Peshawar is one of the oldest city of South Asia having about 3,000 years old civilization where international merchants of the subcontinent, Afghanistan and Central Asia had stayed in its ancient Qissa Khwani bazaar at nights and swapped tales of love, culture, art & architecture, music and each others’ traditions.

    They also visited nearby Wazir Bagh, Jinnah Park and Shahi Bagh gardens before their departure to Afghanistan and onward Central Asian Republics through historic Khyber Pass.

    British diplomat Sir Alexander Burnes had special love for Wazir Bagh by visiting it in 1832 and rested here. He was highly impressed by its breathtaking natural beauty and lush green lawns.

    The area of Jinnah Park garden has been restricted due to ill planned construction of BRT where greeny started dying with no flowers.

    The encouhment land of Wazir Bagh, Jinnah Park and Shahlimar gardens needs to be retrieved for provision of better environment to Peshawarities.

    City Government authorities said under ‘New Peshawar Old Charm’ project,  refurbishment of Wazir Bagh garden was completed.

    Under the project, its walking tracks and lawns were improved and a special corner for women and a cafeteria established.

    Four main enclosures of Wazir Bagh including pavilion, lawns, crisscrossing pavement and fountains’ pool refurbished.

    He said funland and Parda Bagh at Shalimar Gardens on about 176 kanal land at historic Shahi Bagh garden removed.

    Slip roads were built to ensure smooth flow of traffic on roads leading to Wazir Bagh and Shahi Bagh gardens for facilitation of tourists besides revival of centuries-old traditions of Qehwa Khanas (tea rooms) at ancient Qissa Khwani bazaar and installation of heritage plaques and photos in main squares.

    Similarly, problems of illegally installed billboards, debris buildings’ materials, encroachment, redundant poles, iron structures, rusted vehicles, dysfunctional streetlights, missing lane cat eyes, jumbled up wires of various utilities and poor civic conditions in the vicinity of Wazir Bagh and Shahi Bagh gardens were addressed.

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