By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Mar 10 (APP):Khan Klub-a unique histoical building of Mughal Era with eye-catching architectural designs and gorgeous artwork built over 200 years ago in heart of Peshawar City, has started losing its centuries-old architecture due to changing weather and earthquakes.
Located near historic Chowk Yadgar and Balahisar fort at Hasthnagri, Khan Klub (KK) is neither a hotel nor a guesthouse or Havalli, but it is a home of centuries old civilizations with a traditional craftsmanship, that witnessed the vigour of Mughals and onslaughts of warriors, kings and British who marched to the Subcontinent through the historic Khyber Pass.
Built in 1800 at a piece of five-marla land, this four-storeyed boutique style ancient building is in shambles as it is presently being used for trade and commercial purposes having no proper facilities for tourists, culture and art lovers for which it was once famous for.
Its main halls where foreign and domestic tourists had enjoyed traditional Peshawari music including ‘Rubab with Tabla’ prior to 2001, have been turned into flour godowns with particles of flour and dust smoke everywhere.
Khan Club with its glorious history accommodated thousands of people, art lovers and tourists by being used as a residence, guest-house and hotel. In 1995, KK was formally converted into full fledged hotel by a local influential Inayatullah Khan with support of an Irish American Martin Jay Davis and soon became the most preferred choice of foreign and domestic tourists due to its beautiful architecture, calmness and ideal location.
“Prior to 2001, foreign tourists came here in large numbers to witness and enjoy local tradition, culture and historical monuments in old Peshawar City and to taste variety of foods including traditional Peshawari Palao, Qahwah (Green Tea), lemon grass tea with an aroma of jasmine , Bengal tea, Kerala coffee and Darjeeling spring bud besides traditional music of Pakthoons society,” Asif Khan, owner of KK told APP.
“Certainly, I am ready to reserve its two upper storeys for tourists if government provides financial support for its repair and renovation,” he said adding, its architecture and artwork were badly affected by earthquakes, torrential rains and changing weather
At least 10 million would be required for its complete renovation, he added.
The sophisticated artwork on exterior and interior of the building that was main centre of attraction for visitors while passing under the shadow of its beautifully designed balconies, also require immediate renovations before it falls.
Its eight rooms with different colorful names are totally different from one another and are an instant hit.
A room called the “Lapic Suite” consists of a large sitting room and bedroom, which have been artistically decorated with royal blue silk, damask and embroidered furnishings complimented by solid lazuli bowls and decorative tiles.
This suite has an immediate excess to the KK’s library containing books on the history and culture of the province especially of Peshawar and Khyber Pass providing maximum information to visitors.
Another room is called “spinal’ with a fireplace in winter, private balte-balcony, red beige and black embroidered silk furnishing.
While entering the Morganite room with 22-feet ceiling, Sikh styled windows and shutters open on to the private balcony, Peach, Cherry, Cognac colored silk embroidered furniture with antique Russian bowls and filigreed brass lanterns,
is a place to watch.
Another room called the “Tourmaline Suite” has three levels of carved antique glass windows and doors with a 22-feet ceiling and multi-colored silk and carpets furnishings.
The “Topaz Suite” room consists of a large sitting room and a second level sleeping bed, a large private bath and balcony fireplace and original oil paintings, cedar staircase and filigreed lanterns compliment the yellow damask furnishings.
By visiting its “Garnet Room” a visitor can enjoy the panoramic view of the old city of Peshawar and mountain ranges of Koh-e- Shalman. The room is decorated with garnet inlaid floor and saffron colored silk.
“Peridot” is another room with a 12-feet ceiling, a balcony and shuttered windows from where fine view of the walled city could be seen. The “Ruby Suite” is a two-level black granitic suite with a lovely second level and private balcony with oil paintings and red silk covered furnishing inspired many.
In addition, there is a Mughal era restaurant, where the guests sit on takiyas (pillows) and enjoyed KP’s traditional live musical shows’ in the form of Rubab and Tabla besides popular Khattak Dance, also need attention of concerned authorities.
Asif Khan said, “historical buildings carry immense importance being identity of cities and countries and their renovation is imperative for bolstering tourism.”
He sought cooperation of KP Tourism Corporation (TCKP) and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) to make KK again a centre of attraction besides effective utilization of Pakistan’s foreign missions in showcasing its hidden treasures before the world.
Asif Raza Khan, Incharge Peshawar Museum told APP that 1868 ancient houses, monuments and religious places in KP including Khan Klub were included in protected list and its architecture would be preserved.
“The KP Govt has recently completed Cultural Heritage Trail’ project under which 500 meters long trail from ancient Ghanta Ghar to Gor Gathri was renovated including centuries-old buildings, houses and shops besides establishment of a food street in
Peshawar being home to 2000 years old civilizations,” Asif Raza said.
The heritage trail started at the historical Ghanta Ghar and passed through ancient Bazaar-e-Kalaan and primordial Mohallah Sethian with a number of beautifully architectural houses constructed by wealthy Sethi family way back in 1880s.
“Sethi House at Peshawar has been purchased by the government keeping in view of its historical importance and was opened for tourists,” Asif Raza said adding, renovation of Ali Mardan Khan Valley built during British era in Peshawar cantonment was also completed besides ancient inns of Mughal period at Gor Kathri in Peshawar City.
Under heritage project, he said facade or outer appearances of 85 heritage buildings of Mughal, British and Sikh period with a cultural and historical touch were renovated without compromising on its original architecture.
It is pertinent to mention here that there is a dire need for its immediate repair to make it again centre of attraction for tourists.