Conference 2011

Portrait of Lahore –

Capital City of the Punjab

The most pernicious effects left behind by Colonialism are in the field of culture. While the direct rule may recede and the economic exploitation may take indirect forms, cultural penetrations continue in the post-colonial order.  In the sub-continent the Colonials imposed a second rate West-based education system whose primary purpose was to perpetuate their rule.  The characteristics of the colonial education systems, still in practice are: (a) dominance of the colonial language over the vernacular; (b) fragmentation of knowledge with a narrow focus to train people for specific functions in the neo-colonial administration (c) over-emphasis on science and technology as the path to development of the country and consequent (d) neglect of humanities and arts education. Education as enlightenment was abandoned with the neglect of local literature, music, sculpture, painting, philosophy and architecture. The basic integrity of knowledge and esthetics, sciences and arts, was shattered with the resultant loss in human values.


THAAP is a forum of academics and professionals dedicated to improving the state of education, particularly in the field of Arts, Architecture and Culture, where multidisciplinary discourses take place and diversity thrives; our particular focus is on teachers for they will, and can, lead the way and give us hope for a richer future - a future which is not stagnant with a unitary thought but carries the variety of a thousand flowers. The question is how to implement it?

All theoretical formulations are best refined through practice. To develop and demonstrate integrated thinking it is proposed to develop a portrait of Lahore as an integrated city with its variety of people living in their social and the physical environment.


Lahore has been a topic with writers, poets, painters, conservationists, architects, historians and others and there is valuable and rich literature available about the city, however, it is fragmented each dealing, however brilliantly, with particular aspects only. The composite portrait will be more than a compendium of the knowledge available; it must seek and find the underlying links that make the city a living integrated whole.  It will show us not only the city but how to also study the city and its residents, how to enhance their quality of life with art and architecture that responds to their feelings, egos, and culture. External influences, e.g. Dubaization of Lahore, cultural surrender of its elite class that commissions architecture, their taste and proclivities which result in the cacophony of the Main Boulevards in Gulberg and other areas are also subjects of study. The city will come alive in a portrait that reflects its variety and would be a fitting tribute to the city that we love.




Conference Theme:

Portrait of Lahore: Capital City of the Punjab


Held on Nov 11-18, 2011 at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore, Pakistan


Abstracts Received:



Papers Presented:




The peer-reviewed book of this Conference ‘Portrait of Lahore: Lahore nu Salam’ was published in 2012 and edited by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal.


Additional Information:

Scholars from Iran, India, Sweden, Germany, U.K., U.S.A. and Pakistan presented the city in a holistic manner. A week-long conference with various supporting cultural events as detailed below was organized:


- An exhibition of students’ works with a cultural evening depicting aspects of Lahore was held at Alhamra, Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore; the institutions participating were National College of Arts, University of Engineering & Technology, Beaconhouse National University, University of South Asia, COMSATS IIT, Punjab University, Kinnaird College and Naqash School of Arts with book stalls by Sanjh Publications and THAAP Publications.

- An exhibition of folk crafts and arts was organized by Punjab Arts Council at Tollington Market, Lahore.

- A play ‘Meera Rang de Basanti Chola’ by Ajoka Theatres was specially arranged as part of the conference.

- A Cultural Akath (Folk Sangeet Akath) was organized by Punjab Lok Rahs and Lok Sujag at Hazuri Bagh, Lahore.

- A Film Festival screening short films and documentaries on Lahore and Irani Films was held at Alhamra, Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore.

- Talks on Lahore by Majeed Shaikh, Shaukat Nawaz Raja and Masud Ahmed as personal responses to Lahore at Alhamra, Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore.


The culmination of the program was a Mushaira at Alhamra, Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore arranged by Shahnawaz Zaidi.


List of Paper Readers


1.  Germany

   Mr. Ahmad Azhar

Railways and the Production of Modern Lahore


2.  Iran

   Dr. Taraneh Yalda

Tehran-Lahore, the tale of two cities


3.  India

   Dr. Balvindar Singh

Tangible and Intangible Heritage of Walled Cities of Amritsar and Lahore: Need for Integrated Conservation Approach


4.  Dr. Priyaleen Singh

Lahore nu salaam (Memories of Lahore : 1938 to 1947)


5.  Sweden

   Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed

The Lahore Effect


6.  U.K.

   Mr. Bobby Singh Bansal

Legacy of Sikh & European Contribution To Architecture, Arts & Culture During The Sikh Period In Lahore And Punjab 1801 – 1849


7.  Mr. Waqar Ahmed Lahore

Pre & Post Industrialisation


8.  U.S.A.

   Dr. Afshan Bokhari

Chasing Legacy: Jahan Ara Begum’s Loci of Memory at, Chahar Burj, Lahore (1646), Begum Dalani, Ajmer (1638) and the Mullah Shah Khanaqah, Srinagar, Kashmir (1648)


9.   Dr. Jawaid Haider

STREET CHILDREN AND THE RIGHT TO PUBLIC SPACE: Toward Inclusive Urban Design and Planning Strategies


10.  Ar. Nida Rehman

Lahore’s Two Rivers: Stories of Reform and Decay


11.  Pakistan

   Ar. Anila Yasin

The Lost Romance of the Streets of Lahore


12.   Ar. Syed Faisal Sajjad

Public Sculptures of Lahore


13.   Dr. Ghafer Shahzad

Lahore Sufis and their Khanaqahs


14.   Ar. Hala Bashir Malik

Postcolonial Identity in Domestic Architecture of Lahore


15.   Dr. Khalid Bajwa

Constructing Urban Knowledge from the ‘Master Plan for Greater Lahore 1960-73’


16.  Prof. Dr. Neelum Naz & Ar. Sadia Ahmad

Spatial and Social Portrait of Naulakha Bazaar, Lahore


17.   Ar. Saba Samee

The Architectural Saga of two tombs


18.   Dr. Kanwal Khalid

 Portraits of Lahore


19.   Prof. Shahnawaz Zaidi

Yahan se Shehr ko Dekho...


20.   Mr. Imran Yasin Sheikh

Infrastructure of Lahore: Water Supply, drainage and sewerage


21.  Ar. Mansoor Ahmed

Lolly Wood and Lahore


22.  Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem

Hazuri Bagh Baradari: A Reflection of 19th C Sikh Architectural Practices


23.  Pakistan

   Ar. Sajjad Kausar

Historical Gardens of Lahore: An overview of use & maintenance over time


24.  Ar. Amna Jahangir

Architectural Diplomacies of the British Raj in Lahore


25.  Sumera Jawed

 Rise and Fall of Cinema on Mcleod Road








A Report by

Amna Jahangir (Secretary to Conference)


Thaap Conference 2011 was held from November 11-18, 2011 at City of Lahore, an event which captured the interest of Lahori intellectuals and gentry and addressed the life and culture of the city dwellers, reviving its neglected customs, and celebrating its unique tangible and intangible cultural heritage, its heroes, writers, and poets, in serious conference paper reading sessions, exhibitions, cultural evening, Folk Sangeet Akath, plays, book fair, film festival, talks and a mushaira.


A total of 25 papers were presented by scholars from Iran, India, Sweden, Germany, U.K., U.S.A. and Pakistan in 8 sessions over 2 days.

The conference began on November 11, 2011 with the paper reading sessions in a semi-formal setting of Thaap Office at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore with an introduction to Conference Theme by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal, the Conference Convener. Prof. Pervaiz Vandal, highlighted the aim of the conference which was to generate a discourse amongst academics on historiography and the teaching of Art, Culture and Architecture. He emphasized that a teacher is the backbone of education and thus Thaap acts as a forum for teachers and academics, particularly the young teachers for discourse and research. He said that the major backdrop of fragmented knowledge has distorted our identity and understanding of ourselves and our society. It was critical that we now abandon the Euro-centric thinking which has dominated discourse on art and culture and acquire a better understanding of our own situation and the complexities of the Pakistani society. This conference focusing on the City of Lahore in an integrated manner is a milestone towards such understanding.


Dr. Mubarak Ali, world renowned historian of Pakistan chaired the first session. Highlighting the gali, muhala, kucha, bazaar, lifestyle and intangible heritage of Walled City Lahore in his beautiful and well-composed poems, Prof. Shahnawaz mesmerized the audience and set up the atmosphere of the conference. Following this informal eloquent narration of the life in Lahore, was a well-thought out paper by Ms. Nida Rehman, a scholar and architect from U.S.A. highlighting Lahore as the city of two rivers (River Ravi and Canal). I was deeply inspired by the paper that followed Nida Rehman’s presentation in which the speaker Prof. Dr. Jawaid Haider, shared his viewpoint of learning from street children while designing the cities and gave the audience a fresh perspective towards urban design. In the second session chaired by Prof. Dr. Priyaleen Singh, Saba Samee stressed on the importance of oral tradition and written history and how these two should be analyzed side by side in order to understand our history properly and completely. Hala Bashir Malik, a young architect and scholar addressed the changing domestic architecture in City of Lahore during the British Raj. Historic bazaars, a neglected subject, was beautifully addressed in a paper of Lahore Naulakha Bazaar by Prof. Dr. Neelum Naz and Architect Sadia Ahmed. The sessions followed exciting discussions at the session end followed by simple yet local food in informal garden setting during tea breaks, lunch and dinner times. Prof. Dr. Abdul Rehman chaired the 3rd session in which 3 papers were presented: Imran Yasin Sheikh, an engineer by profession, touched on the water supply and sewerage issues of Lahore, Ahmad Azhar, PhD scholar at Germany, highlighted the role of railway in changing the cityscape of Lahore, while Waqar Ahmed, a businessman from London, addressed the changing lifestyle and culture in pre- and post-industrial Lahore during the British Times.


The fourth session chaired by Prof. Dr. Khalid Bajwa, started off with paper on the personality and architectural contributions by Mughal Princess Jahan Ara Begum to City of Lahore. Prof. Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem addressed the 19th century Sikh Architectural monuments with references from Hazori Bagh Baradari. The last paper of first day was presented by Dr. Ghafer Shahzad, who beautifully summed up the role of Shrines in shaping the city built and social environment. A modest yet tasty dinner then followed. The day however had yet another brilliant play to offer which was held in the night at Lahore Arts Council, Hall No. 2, Alhamra the Mall. This play titled ‘Mera Rang De Basanti Chola’ organized by the team of Ajoka Theatres and written by Mr. Shahid Mahmood Nadeem, beautifully narrated the story of freedom-fighter Bhagat Singh’ at Lahore. From acting to the stage setting, from the sound system to the lighting effects, from the music to dialogues, everything of the play superbly executed and left an impression on the mixed audience of intellectuals, artists, families, and locals.


The paper technical sessions continued on the second day of the conference, in which 13 more papers were presented on range of aspects of Lahore City. First session chaired by Prof. Dr. Gulzar Haider, started off with the paper of Prof. Dr. Priyaleen Singh, Professor at School of Planning and Architecture at New Delhi, India, which not only captured the attention of audience but also touched their hearts with its emotional narrative of the story of a communist living in Model Town Lahore before the independence. The attachment and the loyalty of the speaker’s father Mr. Randhir Singh with the City of Lahore, his poem ‘Lahore nu Salam’ left the audience eye’s wet and hearts’ beating with the love for the city of Lahore and shared the sorrow of a person who can no longer return to his beloved city. The paper that followed continued these emotions further when Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, a scholar from Sweden, shared the memories of numerous Hindu, Sikh and Muslim people who once were the inhabitants of the city but have to leave Lahore due to growing hostility during the independence and how they still cherish and remember Lahore in their hearts. Dr. Taraneh Yalda, a scholar from Iran, further expanded the discussion on the association of cultural and historic similarities between Lahore and Tehran through her paper. Prof. Dr. Rahat Masud chair the second session in which Sajjad Kausar, architect and associate professor at NCA Lahore, discussed the historic gardens of the City of Lahore. His narrative along with the imagery of the Mughal garden in a musical slideshow made the audience interested.


The paper then followed presented by Amna Jahangir highlighted the role of the diplomacy n architecture as an important aspect of behavior helping the survival of suppressed cultures during the British Raj in City of Lahore. Prof. Balvinder Singh, head of department at Guru Nanak School of Planning, Amritsar, beautifully drew the comparison of Walled Cities of Amritsar and Lahore on Conservation approaches. After the lunch in the session chaired by Prof. Shaukat Nawaz Raja, three papers hitting varied yet interesting aspects of Lahore were presented. Bobby Singh, a scholar from London, addressed the Sikh period architectural contributions in Lahore. Mansoor Ahmed, a young architect threw light on the cinema industry Bollywood and cinema buildings in Lahore, while Syed Faisal Sajjad, an architect and teacher, brought to the audience attention the public sculptures in City of Lahore.  The last of the technical sessions was chaired by Prof. Dr. Anis Siddiqi. Dr. Kanwal Khalid shared the rare portraits and paintings of Mughal Era in Lahore. Prof. Dr. Khalid Bajwa discussed the Master Plan 1960-73 for Lahore city with the audience which became the basis for all the successive urban studies of Lahore. Anila Yasin, a young architect, beautifully touched on the diminishing character of the streets in Lahore which once made the ambience of the city and contributed towards its unique social and built environment. This discussion was continued when the last speaker of the day, Sumera Jawad discussed an important road of Lahore, the Mcleod Road and how the Cinema bloomed and declined there.


Ar. Maliha Vahla gave the report for first 2 days of paper presenting sessions followed by a Concluding Remark by Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal. Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal, Executive Director of Thaap, elaborated on the role of Thaap in promoting intellectual discourse and cited some of the activities organized to promote this endeavor. She also spoke about the other work that Thaap was involved in through its sub-sets, Thaap Research & Publication, Thaap Consultancy and Advisory Services and Thaap Crafts. She emphasized that the activities of Thaap to create a nexus between culture and development and its work currently being carried out in South Punjab was informed by the debate and discourse in the academic and scholars forum, the Thaap Conference.  She also expressed her thanks on behalf of the Conference 2011 organizers to the paper readers, the organizing committee, student volunteers, staff members and all the participating institutions and donors who provided financial support. Highlighting the future plans of Thaap, she said that the response in this conference is even more encouraging and Thaap will continue its conference and seminar activities in the coming year with the hope to address the key issues of improving art, architecture and history education in Pakistan.


The day ended with an exquisite cuisine offered to conference participants in a dinner sponsored by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology. Other than providing food, the dinner in a semi-formal garden setting gave an opportunity to all the conference participants to reflect on the two day intellectual discourse further.

The Conference’s cultural events celebrating Lahore continued throughout the week. Thaap provided the forum in which all the educational institutions of art and architecture first time in the history of the city presented their students’ work in a single exhibition at Art Gallery, Lahore Arts Council, Alhamra, the Mall, Lahore from November 13-18, 2011. It was a quite a sight to see the mob of excited students, respectable teachers and intellectuals, interested artists and architects at Inauguration of Exhibition of Students’ Work titled as “AARSI - Kaleidoscopic Images: Lahore Seen Through the Eyes of the Students” on November 13, 2011. The exhibition brought in light the student work of eight leading educational institutions of Lahore city on the Theme “Portrait of Lahore: Capital City of the Punjab”, including the works of Beaconhouse National University, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Kinnaird College for Women, Naqsh School of Arts, National College of Arts, The University of Punjab, University of Engineering & Technology, and University of South Asia.The Exhibition was jointly inaugurated by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Vice Chancellor Beaconhouse National University, Prof. Dr. Mehmood Bodla, Director Lahore Campus, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Dr. Nadeem Farooqi, Dean of Management Sciences, University of South Asia, and the heads of all participating institutions. The event was attended by a large number of students and teachers, heads of various institutions, professional architects and artists. The displayed work included introduction to Thaap and its various activities, Student Works focusing on different aspects of Lahore city, in various forms of architectural drawing, sculptures, relief work, photography, models, paintings, 3D computer generated modeling, sketches and many other art forms.


On the same evening of November 13, 2011, various dramas, mimes and plays were performed by the Students of five Art and Architecture Schools of Lahore on the theme of the Conference “Portrait of Lahore: Capital City of the Punjab”. These performances were held at Lahore Arts Council, Alhamra Hall No. 2, the Mall, Lahore. The evening was attended by people from various walks of life in City of Lahore, be it students, teachers, professionals, parents and children. Students of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology performed a play “Hadh Bandi”, a love story of a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy in the times of the Mughals, also a mime “Shehr de Vaar” in which the British arrival to rule Lahore was highlighted. A play “Kat Potli” focused on the concern towards the old arts which are dying out in Lahore, was performed by the students of National College of Arts. The students of the University of Punjab performed two plays, one addressing the social issues by the drug addicts titled “Dil Hai Pakistani” and the other play titled “Jharoka” on the theme “Nai Reeshan Shehr Lahore Dian” portraying the culture and lifestyle of Walled City of Lahore. The changing life in the city, its diverse cultures and the current issue of terrorism was addressed and portrayed in a play “Diya Jalta Hai (The Hope Lives On)” by the students of Kinnaird College for Women. At the end a mime was performed by the Students of University of South Asia titled “Mohabatain Jo Fana Hui Mere Nadeem”, about the destruction of old buildings and built heritage of the City of Lahore. The evening ended with a note of thanks by Prof Pervaiz Vandal.


On the 4th day a Craft’s exhibition, displaying the crafts of Punjab was organized by Thaap in collaboration with the Punjab Arts Council at the historic building of Tollinton Market, the Mall Lahore. The exhibition was jointly inaugurated by Prof. Dr. Rahat Masud the Principal, College of Arts and Design, The University of Punjab, Mr. Ghulam Mustafa, Executive Director Punjab Arts Council, and Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal, Thaap Executive Director, along with all the teachers of Punjab University and National College of Arts. The occasion was well attended by people from various walks of life and students. In the evening the cultural performance “Folk Sangeet Akath” was organized in collaboration with Punjab Lok Rahs and Punjab Lok Sujag at Hazuri Bagh, Walled City Lahore. This event was an effort to revive the centuries old tradition of Heer recital and folk songs at Hazori Bagh, which was discontinued at Hazori Bagh about six years ago due to Government policies.


Student volunteers under training of Punjab Lok Rahs in the form of  tollian (groups) went into the gallis (streets) and mohallas (neighborhood) of the Walled city Lahore to spread the word of this event, invite and involve the locals in an afford to revive the traditions and culture of the Walled City. The spectacle of masses of people coming out from the streets of the Walled City with the dhol (drum) beats towards the Hazuri Bagh mesmerized the entire gathering. It was as if the place was made alive again with its former glory of festivities, poetry and literary exchanges at the garden. The whole ambience of the space, crowd of people from various walks of life including architects, artists, performers, poets, students, the local residents and foreign scholars together with the traditional performer transformed this event into an enthusiastic and a rare experience in the City of Lahore at current times. The local folk artists recited and sang Punjab’s folk legend Heer and Kalam of Ustad Daman on the beats of Tabla, Bansori, Harmonian, Chimta and other musical instruments. The program ended with the mesmerizing performance of 25 Dholies (Drummers) playing simultaneously.  Speaking on this event, various local people, and scholars expressed their view about the event’s uniqueness in not just reviving the tradition but also in raising awareness within the society of the value their cultural heritage and reclaiming of public space by the citizens.


In the morning of Day 5 of the Conference, Film Festival started at Lahore Arts Council, Alhamra Hall No. 3, the Mall, Lahore, with the films from Iran. Pakistan and Lahore in particular shared the traditions and cultural heritage with Iran through a close connection through history. Dr. Taraneh Yalda, the Iranian Delegate, speaking on the occasion gave a detailed introduction to the audience about the three Films which were to be shown. The first film titled “From Teran to Tehran” was about the City of Tehran, its history and architectural evolution through ages. A 20-minutes documentary brought by another Iranian delegate, Mr. Mehrdad Bahmani, was on “Restoration and Renovation of Tehran Old Parliament Building” that was destroyed during the great fire of Tehran in 1993. The comprehensive narration of every step of the conservation and how this building was brought back to its former glory was appreciable. “Tehran has no more Pomegranates” was the last film shown which portrayed the contemporary cultural situation of Iran and life in the metropolitan city of Tehran before and after the Islamic Revolution. The next day, November 16, 2011, the film festival continued with the Short Films on Lahore, shown at Lahore Arts Council, Art Gallery, the Mall, Lahore. Welcoming the audience of students, teachers, and general public, Ar. Sajjad Kausar, the Film Festival Convener and Head of Architecture Department, National College of Arts, gave the general introduction to the short films on Lahore. Five Films titled “Pakhiwas”, “Khadim-e-Zuljana (Servitude)”, “Life in a Gutter Gate: A Story of Survival”, “Rocket Pahalwan” and “Future of the Past”, threw light on various life and cultural aspects of Lahore from the religious zeal to life of the poor street children, and from tradition of pahalwans in the city to the conservation of City of Lahore, its past, present and future. Prof. Shireeen Pasha, Head of the Department of Film and Television, National College of Arts, Lahore also spoke about the work of the film students and their capturing the life on Lahore on film.

Lahore continued to remain in focus at the event “Views on Lahore” on November 17, 2011, at Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore, in which three prominent Lahori literary and artistic personalities reflected on their views about the Lahore City. The event was attended by teachers, students, professionals and general public. Mr. Majeed Sheikh, the famous journalist of Pakistan, speaking on the event, started his talk highlighting the art of story-telling. He then went on to acknowledge the works of various writers who wrote about Lahore throughout history and in current times. He shared his memories of Walled City with the audience and reflected on its current conditions and issues. Mr. Khalid Ahmed, a prominent poet of Lahore, in his talk spoke of the changing culture of the City of Lahore. Expressing his viewpoint, he said that it is the attitude which values the cultural traditions and therefore the requirement to save a nation’s cultural heritage is to address that rather than through material means to save the brick and mortar. Ar. Shaukat Nawaz Raja, a renowned architect of Pakistan, started off with sharing his memories and the experience of living in two historic and cultural cities of the world, Paris and Lahore. His presentation was an eloquent combination of pictorial and verbal comparison of the culture and urban pattern of Paris and Lahore, highlighting its similarities and difference.


The week-long conference came to its conclusion in the evening of November 18, 2011 with a spectacular event of Mushaira at Lahore Arts Council, the Mall, Lahore. Prof. Shahnawaz Zaidi, the Convener Mushaira, and also a poet began the function with recitation of his poems on Lahore. Prominent Shuara (Poets) of Lahore and Pakistan including, Afshan Sajjad, Ashraf Sajjad, Asrar Chishti, Amjad Islam Amjad, Anwar Masood, Ejaz Rizvi, Ghafer Shahzad, Jamshaid Chishti, Khalid Ahmad, Najeeb Ahmad, Shafiq Ahmed Khan , Shahnawaz Zaidi,  and Shahzad Ahmad, expressed their views of the city and its various aspects of Culture and deep emotions of humans in beautifully composed poetry. Their ghazals and nazams touched the hearts of the audience who wholeheartedly appreciated their kalam verbally and through applause. At the end of the function, Prof. Shahnawaz Zaidi thanked the audience for their active participation throughout the week in the events of Thaap Conference 2011.