Monday, July 7, 2014

Shrine Banga Balail awaits preservation

The dilapidated shrine of a lesser known saint locally known as Hazrat Banga Balail (or Banga Bilal) awaits preservation for the last six years despite being declared a protected site under the Punjab Special Premises Act, 1985.
The shrine is located in Delhi Gate’s Koocha Kamangran’s Galli Kubri Titlian. On the left side of the street is located Mohallah Saeed Khan Qureshi while on the right side of the street is Mohallah Banga Balail where the shrine is located.
The grave of the saint sits on a platform under a flat roof opposite the tomb of Nawab Saeed Khan, the former governor of Multan.
The shrine was included in the list comprising 52 monuments of Multan to be preserved under the prime minister’s five-year special development package for the city announced in 2008. The work on the shrine, however, cloud not be started despite the preparation of PC-I of the project by a private consultant company.

After the approval of PC-II, the ministry of culture’s northern circle of archeology hired Unicon, a private consultant company, for conducting preliminary survey and studies for preparation of a conservation and restoration plan for the historical monuments.
It was decided that the preservation would be done on the pattern of Morocco’s city Fez, but despite passage of six years, no civil work could be initiated at any of these monuments.
According to researcher and historian Mehboob Tabish, little information was available in the history books about the saint whose real name was also not known.
He said that according to some traditions the saint was a Moazin (prayer caller) at the mosque of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya Multani being one of his devotees.
He said as the saint delivered Azan at the mosque for a long time, people started calling him Banga Bilal (as Bang is a local word for Azan).
He said after his death, people started calling him Banga Bilal, Banga Balail or Banga Balal.
He said the saint’s grave was longer than the normal size of graves in the area while there was also a mosque named after him that was reconstructed and in good condition.
Mr Tabish said the saint was also said to be a prominent religious scholar who would deliver lectures to the students of Madaris-i-Bahaya.
Muhammad Akbar, a resident of Koocha Kamangran, said the roof and walls of the shrine were dilapidated and could collapse anytime, deploring that no renovation work was carried out there since long. He said only the locals had been taking care of the structure that was in poor condition.
Archeology department in charge Malik Ghulam Muhammad said the monument was protected under the Punjab Special Premises Act, 1985. He said the PC-I of the preservation project was prepared and work would start after provision of funds by the provincial government.

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