By: mudassar bashir
Translation: Muttahir Ahmad Khan
There is no detailed account of Shah Rustam Ghazi in the books of history. As far as we know, he was the teacher of Aurangzeb’s daughter Princess Zaib-un-Nissa. He was a highly educated figure during the era of King Shah Jahan and King Aurgangzeb. The historians did not conduct any research on the point whether the title “Ghazi” was part of his name, or a title added, later on, by others as a token of respect. Kanhaya Laal Hindi wrote about Rustam Ghazi, in his book “Taareekh-e-Lahore” (The History of Lahore):
“That elderly person was an extremely learned and educated figure of his times, and also was the teacher of Zaib-un-Nissa. He died in 10th Hijra”
After the death of Shah Rustam Ghazi, Princess Zaib-un-Nissa got his tomb constructed in the area of Nawan Kot. Kanhaya Laal further wrote on the topic on the same page of his book:
“Zaib-un-Nissa made the tomb tiled with red bricks and grave-stone built with the Marble. All these valuable stones and bricks were extracted by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, and, presently, there exists only the shell of the tomb’s tall premises on a mound.
Towards the south, there are two doors, with bolts, on the ground. After descending down five steps, we come across two basements. There are two graves each in both the basements; one has the graves of Rustam Ghazi and his son while the other contains the graves of Ghazi’s wife and mother. Once, there was a dome on these basements with two separate portions for the graves of males and females, upstairs as well”.
At the present time, the tomb is amongst those places that have been thrown into oblivion. Not to speak of the new generation, even the previous ones do not have any knowledge of this tomb. On Multan Road, when we travel towards Yateem Khana crossing Samanabad Chowk, we come across a stop named “Chhappar Stop”. Across the road, there is an area called Rustam Park”, and it has been named after Rustam Ghazi. On the corner of the road, the building of Girls Junior Model School is located and, at a small distance, on the adjacent road, exists the Ghori Street that contains “Shah Rustam Ghazi Mosque” on its Eastern side. The mosque has been built at the site of the pond that was the part of the original premises of the tomb. After the Partition, the pond dried up and the local people built a mosque over it. With the construction of mosque, some parts of the Tomb and some of the surrounding graves were saved, otherwise people would have built houses here too.
In the original and initial construction of the tomb, this area was quite vast, but with the explosion of population, it has shrunk to a small field and, now, the caretakers of the mosque have installed iron-grills around it, and this action has saved the remaining space from the jaws of the land mafia. We find an old room in this open field and, once there existed a grand dome on top of the room. Now, another simple roof has been constructed in place of the dome and its old walls have been white-washed. Due to this, the work of old Nanak Shahi bricks has also disappeared. The downward stairs lead to the basement and the graves of Shah Rustam Ghazi and his son. A plaque is also installed there that provides information about the departed souls and Princess Zaib-un-Nissa.
The status of the tomb has changed to a shrine and people call it the shrine of Shah Rustam. There is another room after this one and that contains a new grave stone. Actually this is the place where the graves of Shah Rustam Ghazi’s wife and mother, once, existed. In the recent past, the land mafia destroyed the whole place, thus removing all traces of the remaining original work. Later on, the caretakers of the mosque rebuilt the site and, currently, there exist only three old monuments. First, an old Banyan tree, second, some remnants of red bricks used in the original design of the rooms over the graves; third, the slabs of red stone on the stairs. In the open field we find many oil lamps placed here and there. Presently, the local people treat the place like a saint’s shrine and visit the site, light the lamps, pray for the fulfillment of their wishes and place gifts as a token of devotion and reverence. Perhaps it is the reward of Shah Rustam Ghazi’s noble and virtuous deeds that some of the relics and remnants of his tomb are still surviving.