On the last day of the ten-day workshop on Folk Culture and Heritage Management held at the National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage at Lok Virsa Shakar Parian, Islamabad, the participants of the workshop hailing from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds were given the opportunity to experience the rich culture and life in the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi.The starting point of the tour was Bhabra Baazar, commencing from main Murree Road. The Bhabra Bazaar locality was once inhabited by the native Jain population of the city. A larger number of the members of the Jain community were businessmen, primarily Timber merchants, and this made them relatively financially stable as compared to other communities residing in Rawalpindi.The participants walked across the main Bhabra Bazaar road to witness the master craftsmanship still visible in the rapidly deteriorating pre-partition era’s buildings. About mid-way of the bazaar, a small narrow street on the right led to the once marvelous structures of its time, the Sujan Singh Haveli. The Haveli, an enormous multi story residential building built by Rai Bahadur Sardar Sujan Singh, a famous Timber merchant from the indigenous Sikh community of Rawalpindi, was built around 1893.Although a significant portion of the structure was destroyed over the course of time, the magnificence of the Haveli still manages to capture the eye of the passersby today the same way it used to do at the peak of its glory. Upon completion, it had dozens of private rooms, at least 3 grand central halls, numerous galleries and other important rooms. Presently, it is a triple storey complex. According to different historical records, weekly musical programs were organized inside the Haveli by the Sardar. Intricate geometrical patterns adorned the wooden ceilings on the inside, traces of which are still visible to this date. The doors and windows are all intricately carved with floral as well as animal and human figures. Spiral shaped metal pillars that have been fitted along the balconies were imported from Italy, Europe. The haveli was a symbol of wealth and power back in the days.After the Partition, the owners of the Haveli migrated to India, and the property was allocated by the Government of Pakistan to migrant Kashmiri families. Later, the complex was used as a madrassa and gradually ended in the possession of Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. It is leased to the National College of Arts, NCA Rawalpindi for renovation, setting and art and craft school.Moving ahead with the journey, the participants crossed the Sarafa Bazaar or the ‘Gold market’, named because of the presence of jewelry shops on it and reached the Shrine of Shah Chan Chiragh, the patron saint of Rawalpindi city. He is the first cousin of Imam Bari, the patron saint of Islamabad.The Shrine is a Shia Dargah, containing a small graveyard, a mosque, an open courtyard and the central shrine of Baba Chan Chiragh. There was a nearby structure, with a small door built in it, called the ‘Bahishti Darwaza’. It is commonly believed by the followers of the shrine that all of a person’s previous sins are forgiven once he/she crosses this door. After offering prayers at the shrine and eating the nayyaz (‘blessed food’ distributed free of cost), the participants left the Dargah moving towards their next destination, the famous iconic structure of the city of Rawalpindi, the Laal Haveli.The Laal Haveli is a multi-story complex built in the early 18th century, possibly earlier, which currently serves as the residence and office of a prominent politician of Rawalpindi, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed. The Central Secretariat of Awami Muslim League political party founded by Sheikh Rasheed is also housed inside the Haveli. The Haveli is painted deep cranberry red, and this is how it derives its name ‘Laal’, the local Pothwari/Punjabi language word for the colour, red.The facade of the Haveli is beautifully carved out of wooden, in the traditional Kashmiri style of balcony building.To the right of the Laal Haveli stands a semi demolished Hindu temple. Although the central turret of the temple is intact, the surrounding walls have collapsed.Continuing with exploring the city, our next destination was another old Hindu Temple, the largest among the many temples of Rawalpindi City. Much like other buildings which were left by their owners who migrated to India, this temple also became the property of the state. The structure was allocated by the government to house the migrant Muslim families coming from India after the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent. Signs and symbols of the Hindu religion could still be seen on the building of the Temple.Across the small naala (drainage rivulet) to the other side of the street, adjacent to the Temple is a Shia Imam Bara famously known as the Colonel Maqbool Imambargah. It is beautifully decorated with intricate floral and geometrical patterns made on tiles which are plastered on the exterior of the structure.This was originally a five to six storey complex but after the deadly earthquake which jolted the city of Rawalpindi in October 2005, the upper two stories were demolished as they were considered not safe for occupation.There are various narratives regarding the history of this unique building. One of them claims that this building was originally built as a Sikh Gurdwara by the local Sikh community which was later bought by a wealthy Muslim who made it an Imambargah.The journey to explore the cultural heritage of Rawalpindi city nearly reached an end as the participants reached the last site of the tour. Another Hindu temple in the Lunda Bazaar, also known as the ‘Chittiyan Hattiyan (translating to the ‘white shops’) Mohalla. This temple building also suffered similar fate like other non-Muslim places of worship and residences as the natives left their ancestral homes and migrated to the neighboring country.Currently, this structure is occupied by a family, and fortunately, a beautifully sculpted Hindu God, Ganesha’s idol has survived the test of time. It stands right in the middle of the turret of the temple building making it inaccessible to reach without relevant machinery. Thus, the statue of the elephant headed god has managed to survive in its original shape till date.At this point we decided to end our journey and head back to our hotels in the neighbouring capital city of Islamabad. We said good bye to Rawalpindi, once culturally and religiously the most diverse city in the north of Pakistan.The writer hails frorm Hyderabad, Sindh and can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, January 8th 2017.