JUNE 2001- Contents
Travel & Adventure
the-south-asian.com June 2001
THE GENERAL'S HAVELI
His trip to India may be one of the most serious missions of his life, but Pakistan's General Parvez Musharraf will pursue matters of the heart as well. On top of his wish list is a visit to a haveli near Golcha Cinema in Delhi's crowded Darya Ganj area that once belonged to his grandfather. The Delhi government is now giving a facelift to the dilapidated haveli. A peep into the general's ancestral home….
The winding alleys of Darya Ganj and Chandni Chowk are testimony to many memories of pre-partition days. A vital link to the past, this area has a number of quaint havelis that were witness to the capital's resplendent past. Most of these havelis once belonged to members of the royal family and nobility long gone in history.
They have now given way to the pressures of city space and converted into ugly clusters. New owners, many of whom don't even know the significance of the area they are living in, now occupy most of these altered havelis. Nor could they care. The pressures of eking a living have obliterated all thoughts of history.
But of late, the place has found a new admirer. The Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf. While delivering his acceptance speech after taking over the reigns of Pakistan in 1999, the general recalled days of his childhood spent in the narrow lanes of Darya Ganj.
He reminisced about his carefree days spent in the Naharwali Haveli, behind Golcha cinema where he lived with the elders of his family. The area is now known as Gola Market after one Prem Chand Gola, purchased the haveli from the late Qazi Mushamuddin Musharraf, grandfather of General Pervez Musharraf. The haveli changed hands in 1946 for a 'princely' sum of Rs. 562.50 (rupees five hundred and sixty two and paise fifty only).
The sprawling haveli that once covered an area of 24,800 square feet area has been completely altered. In fact, it has been brought down bit by bit and converted into a shanty commercial complex and housing cluster. Nothing distinguishes it from other ordinary houses in the heavily congested area.
Nothing except the Mazaar of Peer Baba. The general's grandfather regularly offered prayers here. Keeping up with the old tradition, the Hindu residents of Gola Market light a lamp at the Mazaar daily.
Since India and Pakistan have seldom enjoyed neighbourly relations, this is a link to the past that the people do not know how to react to. Though most feel proud, others have mixed feelings and attribute the Kargil war to General Musharraf.
However, some like Naaru are overwhelmed with joy. The 90-year-old sweeper clearly recalls the young Pervez. " He must have been 10 or 11 years old then. He would talk to me endlessly and on important days like his exams he came to me for blessings. I found it very strange as in those days no one from rich families liked to come near a sweeper leave alone seek her blessings."
However, most other residents
hardly have any memories of the general's family. Recalls Sanjay Gola,
grandson of late Prem Chand Gola, who purchased the property from General
Musharraf's grandfather, " Whatever little we know about him and his
family is from my grandfather who died some years ago."
He says, till 1999---the year in which General Pervez Musharraf took over as CEO of Pakistan---nobody cared about the area, but now some people are talking in terms of making it a heritage building.
Whether or not General Musharraf visits Naharwali Haveli during his forthcoming visit to India is not important for the residents of the area. What is important is the fact that the head of the state of a neighbouring country was once their next door neighbour.
Thus besides Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other senior ministers of the Indian government, there are a handful of common people living in Darya Ganj area of Delhi who are keenly looking forward to General Musharraf's trip to India.
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