Chiniot, The City Behind The Moon

old-bridge

Chiniot Bridge on Rive Chenab is an ancient beautiful bridge that is all made of iron. Road runs over the top of railway track. The bridge connects Chiniot with Chenab Nagar (old name Rabwa), passing over the Chenab river. Old bridge for road was very narrow.
 The hill in the middle of the river partitioned the river and made it easy to construct the bridge in two parts. East channel has 6 spans of 40 meter length while west channel has 7 spans of the same length.
It is very scenic picnic point. Rowing boats are available here to give memorable river experience.

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These photos will take you on a magical trip through Chiniot

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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The name Chiniot remains etched in my memory –  since my boyhood days. I vividly recall my train journeys during my summer holidays. It so happened that with the start of long summer vacations at the school, my father would tell me, take the train that connects Kundian (an important railway junction) with Lyallpur, now renamed as Faisalabad. The idea for the journey was to spend vacations with my cousins there who with my Taya ji had already settled in the city.

In this journey, what fascinated me most was part of the journey on the Sargodha-Lyallpur track, for on this very section came the town of Chiniot.

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A particular feature of the town was the small rocky hillocks many of which have now vanished. After leaving Sargodha and a few stations next, the train used to move like serpentine through these barren hills. With the hills coming to an end, the track got spread over large lush green fields.

While covering this part of the journey I used to watch the fruit orchards having orange trees. Many times it so happened, that the oranges on tree branches spread up to the railway track and while you were sitting in the train, you could even pluck these fresh, bright oranges.

Another fascination was the famous railway bridge over River Chenab. The beautiful scene of the train moving over the River used to mesmerize me so much that I would get up from m seat, stand on the door of the bogey watching the river water moving at full speed under the moving train. The thrill of watching this scene was so great that even if some elder would shout, Beware boy! The train could come to a sudden halt and in a nu you could fall out. But nothing going, I used to keep standing till the train moved out of the bridge. No sooner that the train left the bridge, than we reached the railway station of Chiniot.

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Chiniot station was an important halt even in those days, for here you could get soft drinks, munchies, tea or drink anything to your taste.

Later I had many chances to visit the town and every time I was there, I found something new, something amazing.

Origin of the name Chiniot

In a previous article, I mentioned different versions about the city’s nomenclature. Here now is another one.

The name Chiniot is derived from the word Chan which means moon and oat locally means behind. In other words the city behind the Moon. An historic city of the eastern province of Pakistani Punjab.

The historic significance of Chiniot boasts of its glorious past, a magnificent city which remained a strategic post to be conquered by every invader. Around 326 BC it was conquered by Alexander the Great, who passed through this region before going back to Greece.

After few years, Chiniot was taken over by Chandar Gupt Maurya who ruled this city till 30 BC.

When Islam reached the Indian sub continent, Chiniot remained under the dominance of different Muslim rulers during tenure of their respective dynasties. In the Mughal period, the city underwent immense development.

After Mughals, in 1805 it was conquered by Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh and thereafter in 1849, the British took control of the city.

Chiniot of today

Chiniot offers one of the many awe-inspiring architectural gems of Pakistan, This historic city– is a true treasure of magnificent palaces, mosques and dazzling buildings.

Umer Hayat Palace

Standing proud in the heart of the city, Umer Hayat Palace is one of the famous ‘mahals’ of Pakistan. With a touch of Mughal architecture, the facade of the building is adorned with a fine inlay of bricks. The dazzling shine of marble and exquisite interior adds to its beauty.

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Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

The palace is an early 20th century wooden architectural wonder and perhaps the last of Mughal style architecture. Unique carving on the doors, windows, jharokas reflect a colour of their own. The roofs, balconies, stairways, terrace and the stucco designs make perfect interior.

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The dazzling shine of marble and exquisite interior adds to its beauty. Photo by @s.haseebamjad / Instagram

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It’s a tremendous piece of art with stucco work, finest carving and patterns of wood in the form of jharokas, doors and window panes, which make it look like the “Taj Mahal” of Chiniot. Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

Shahi Masjid

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Built by Nawab Saad UlIah Khan during the regime of Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-58), Shahi Masjid is another attraction of Chiniot. Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

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Shahi Masjid Chiniot. Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

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Shahi Masjid Chiniot. Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

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Saeen Sukh Shrine, also known as the ‘Sheesh Mahal’ of Chiniot, stands adjacent to the Shrine of Shah Ismail Shah Bukhari. Photo by @shahrose_khan36 / Instagram

Sheesh Mahal

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Sheesh Mahal is beautifully decorated with intricate designs made from mirrors. Photo by @shahrose_khan36 / Instagram

 Bara Mandir

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The classic Hindu temple also known as big temple was built by Maharaja Gulab Singh. Photo by @aabbiidd / Instagram

The impressive temple is believed to have been built amid the second Anglo-Sikh war.

Shrine of Ismail Shah Bukhari

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“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” -Camille Pissarro

The tomb of Hazrat Sheikh Ismail Bukhari is another charm in Chiniot that manages to lure hundreds of travelers and backpackers annually. The vault is a unique yet fascinating blend of modern and archaic style of architecture.

Sheikh Ismail was a famous saint of Chiniot and his excellent way of teaching provoked many non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

He was born in 762 Hijri. Belonged to the kin of Syed Sher Shah Jalal Surkh Bukhari, Hazrat Sheikh Ismail came to Jhang on the command of his religious teacher, Hazrat Chirag Dehlvi. They devoted their lives for the propagation of Islam.

Hazrat Sher Shah Jalal visited Jhang just two times in his whole life. Later on, his lad Ahmad Kabeer visited Jhang, who was then followed by Jahan Gasht and his children. Jahan Gasht and his brood permanently settled in Chiniot.  Hazrat Sheikh Ismail was a saint of this lineage.

Sheikh Ismail was the grand-son of the Syed Ahmad Kabeer. He reached Chiniot while passing through Delhi, Deska, Karnal, Patyala and Icherwaal. He has millions of disciples till now.

Details of Tomb

The vault of Hazrat Sheikh Ismail is almost 75 feet high and it stretches over the area of fifteen kanals. The foundation of tomb was laid before partition and construction work accomplished after partition.

The grave of Sheikh Ismail is surrounded by many small graves which are believed to be of his descendants.

The walls of the tomb are made of white cement and they look as if they’re of marble. The tiles affixed in the walls are not much long-standing but were last used in 1980.  All four walls of the tomb have ventilators. Sura-Yaseen is engraved on each wall. The vault features two moons with one big star in the middle of both.

The tomb also features four large windows and a main door that’s called “Bab-ul-Faiz”

Surroundings of Tomb

The front and back of the burial chamber is surrounded by stumpy cemeteries. This two story tomb features 8 small and 4 large towers and one big dome. Adjacent to the tomb is a mosque with prayers of “Nad-e-Ali”, “Surah-Fateh” and “Pakistan Zindabad” engraved on all of its four walls. There is a “Bara Dari” too which was built on the command of Ameer Hussain Shah. Nowadays Syed Zafar Abbas is the care-taker of the sepulcher.

Note: These pictures were collected through various users from Instagram.

Arts and Crafts of Chiniot

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The town is celebrated for its wood carving and masonry. The artisans of Chiniot have been renowned for the excellence of their work since the period of the great Mughals. Masons from Chiniot were employed in the building of Taj Mahal in Agra and Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. The main architect of Golden Temple at Amritsar was also from Chiniot, as were the craftsman who built the more recent Minar-i-Pakistan. 

The area was once famous for boat-building, but no such industry is seen now-a-days. The town is still known for arts and crafts specially door carving, brass work, inlays and furniture. The skills are passed down from father to son. No wonder the most prominent feature of the city is the handcrafted wooden furniture which is renown all over the world for its style and delicacy, its ideally good quality and variety.

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Handicrafts are items made by hand often with the use of tools and are generally artistic and traditional in pattern. They include objects of utility and objects of decoration. Handicrafts are produced entirely by hand or if needed with the help of tools too. They are also known as craft work when useful and decorative items are used to complete it.

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Generally the term is used to traditional way of making items of decoration and of utility.. (Handicrafts are unique ideas that represent the culture and tradition and aesthetics of an area or of a country). It is an important sector in terms of economic development particularly in the areas where other means of production or manufacturing are nonexistent.

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Pakistan has a rich history of different types of handicrafts. Pakistani artisans have great skills to show their art in craftsmanship and beauty, form and style. Gauged on these criteria, the men of Chiniot excel to produce something for every one’s taste. No wonder their products find a prominent place in the high end markets of the world.

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Image Source: Title image, 2, 3, 4 to 12, 1314, 15, 16, 17 

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People Who Read This Article Also Read…

(1) Chiniot: The Vanishing Landmark (2) Chiniot: The City and its Mosque

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Published in: on 07/02/2017 at 6:40 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. HIGHLY IMPRESSIVE AND MAGNIFICENT WONDERS OF PAKISTAN–
    THEY ATTRACT NUMEROUS TOURISTS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD–


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