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    Peshawar heritage trail-a home of 85 ancient buildings attracts tourists, archeology lovers in droves

    Peshawar heritage trail-a home of 85 ancient buildings attracts tourists, archeology lovers in droves

    PESHAWAR (APP): The cultural heritage trail (CHT), a famous street at Peshawar City where scores of ancient houses of colonial and mughal era were renovated, have started attracting tourists and archeology lovers by exploring its eye catching architectural designs and rare woodwork.

    Bakhtzada Khan, research officer, archeology and museums department told APP on Tuesday that about 500 meters long trail from ancient Ghanta Ghar to Gor Gathri Peshawar were completely refurbished including centuries-old buildings and houses to restore original grandeur of Peshawar being home of the 3,000 years old civilization.

    The trail starts at historical Ghanta Ghar and passes through ancient Bazaar-e-Kalaan and primordial Mohallah Sethian famous for scores of beautifully designed architectural houses constructed by Sethi Family in 1880s.

    ” I came from Dir Lower district to explore the trail where the ancient houses’ architecture impressed me the most” said Engr Khushal Khan while talking to APP.

    Such unique wood craftsmanship needs to be showcased through digital media to generate revenue from abroad, he suggested.

    The trail was completed at a cost of about Rs 301.5 million which significantly improved the outer appearances of about 85 heritage buildings of Mughal, British and Sikh era. 

    Sethi House-an architecture wonder was also rehabilitated by the Archealogy Department under the cultural heritage trail project, attracting tourists in droves.

    Sethi House is a historical building of British era having a unique architectural designs and eye-catching wood craftsmanship where a full fledge museum was established by the KP Government,  he said.

    Located in a small street Sethi Mohalla near historic Ghanta Ghar Peshawar in about 10 minutes drive from bustling streets of Qissa Khawani, the Sethi House’s rare art work and architectural designs Ghandara and Central Asia’s take tourists back to reminiscent of the past.

    Inspired by Muslims and vernacular architecture of Bukhara Uzbakistan, the Sethi family associated with international trade had constructed this architectural wonder after migrating from Jehlum to Peshawar in the early 19th century at Mohallah Sethian where about seven havelis were built in almost the same style, signifying estheticism of the affluent Sethi family.

    Associated with wood trade, the Sethi family had brought new innovation in architectural designs while making mansions and buildings including Sethi House showing their unmatched architectural intellect.

    Bakhtzada said the fortune had turned negatively on wealthy Sethis in start of 20th century when they received severe economic jolts due to Bolshevik revolution and their businesses were adversely affected after a adaptation of a new currency by the new Soviet Union.

    Built by Sethi Karim Bakhsh, he said Sethi House is spread on 33 marlas having three portions including basement, courtyard and first floor. It construction was started in 1835, and completed after 49 years in 1884 with great wood works.

    The visitors’ soon after entering Mohallah Sethian see its main wooden gate above five feet height leads him to a vast open courtyard with a water fountain in middle, which reminds tourists of its glorious days when the house welcomed scores of people through its doors.

    Surrounding the courtyard are four spacious rooms, which are connected through similar passageways. The windows of the rooms face the courtyard, each from the same angle, having a colorful glasswork looking matchless aesthetic beauty.

    The visitors could not remain unimpressed while seeing reds and greens in window glasses, which are reminiscent of post-renaissance art in European churches. 

    He said the remarkable glass cut-pieces were imported especially from Belgium to concoct mélange of architecture. The intricate web of floral designs on its doors, windows and arches stands as a testament to the artistry of the era’s artisans.

    These embellishments only add to the accolades one has for the workers, who put unsurpassed effort into the intricacies of the unique design, making Sethi House an architectural wonder.

    Mehrabs’ inside its rooms are filled with small pieces of glass shelves intended to place candles at night, shining just like stars in the sky. 

    The ceiling is designed with pure Islamic architecture. The visitors could look at ceiling for hours at a stretch, which enhances its Islamic art elegance. 

    Upon entering its courtyard (Balakhana), a visitor came across with cold breeze and see eye birds view of the surrounding areas of Peshawar, which has over 3,000 years primitive history being the oldest City of South Asia.

    Its basement has spacious living rooms for accommodation of visitors and holes in wooden ventilators are angled at a unique level, ensuring an ample lighting throughout the day.

    Sethi house is a model for modern-day green architecture because of its perfectly built ventilating structures and unique architectural airy designs,” said Mehtab Khan, Incharge Sethi House’s Museum while talking to APP.

    Keeping in view of its architectural beauty and glorious history, he said Sethi House was purchased by KP Government in 2006. Following completion of renovation and repair works, he said it was converted into museum by Archeology and Museums Department Govt of KP in 2010 and was opened for tourists.

    Ali Mardan Khan Valley in Peshawar Cantonment built during colonial era has also been renovated besides ancient inns of Mughal period at Gor Kathri in Peshawar City.


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