Restoration of centuries-old tomb planned -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Restoration of centuries-old tomb planned

By: Shakeel Ahmed

MULTAN: The provincial archaeology department has made plans to begin preservation and restoration work on the centuries-old tomb of Mai Mehraban. The PC-I of the project has been sent to the Planning and Development Department for final approval, Dawn has learnt.

The local archeology department, after preparing a detailed design (PC-I) with an estimated cost of Rs6.284 million, has submitted the project to the office of the Archeology director general which will forward it to the finance department for the release of funds.

The project will involve recreating the glazed pinnacle, lime terracing on walls and roofs of first and second storey for water proofing and repairing of cracks in arches as a major component of the project.

Located near Fawara Chowk, the land of the shrine is octagonal in plan and approachable from a very narrow street. Over the years houses have been constructed at a distance of hardly two feet on the northeast and west sides.

The brick work is badly decayed for lack of maintenance, water penetration and settlements close to the tomb. Dangerous cracks have appeared both in walls and the dome.

According to Malik Munir Bhutta, a Multan-based historian, there is no solid information about Mai Mehraban as very little has been written about the architecture of the building in which she is buried. He said that as per the available information, Mai Mehraban was the wife of one Shaikh Hasan who is said to have come to Multan shortly after the time of Shah Yousaf Gardezi.

“If the date of its construction (1140/535) is accepted, the lady becomes a contemporary of Shah Yousaf Gardezi who died in 1136AD,” he said.

He said the tomb turned out to be contemporary to Yousaf Gardezi but over a 100 years earlier than that of the Mausoleum of Bahawal Haq Zakriya who died in 1267.

“But in plan and elevation the shrine is closer to the latter and much different from the former. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the construction of the tomb must be related to the post-Bahauddin Zakriya’s time — close to the 13th century,” he opined.

Malik Ghulam Muhammad, in charge of the Archeology Department in Multan, said the project will involve underpinning with special bricks, DPC (damp proof course) through cement and concrete, bitumen coating and polythene sheet, sand filling around the shrine, special size brick tile on edge flooring inside the shrine, brick on edge flooring in courtyard, lime plaster and glazed lime on ground and second storey inside the shrine and exterior panels besides the lime plaster on dome finished with glazed lime plaster, including neck of dome, electrification and installation of history board.