I fell in love with this small structure just because of its interesting and unique name ‘Jhingar Shah Suthra’. Have you ever been to this place which is located outside the northern wall of Lahore Fort? I guess despite visiting the Lahore Fort several times you must not have noticed this architectural gem because it usually goes unnoticed by tourists and people passing through the newly developed Greater Iqbal Park.The dilemma is that with so many heritage sites in Lahore, many are ignored because they are small structures. But even these smaller structures have a historic significance which has somehow been lost and forgotten. The same tragedy happened with this Hindu site which is located adjacent to the northern wall of the Lahore Fort and is known as the “Samadhi of Jhingar Shah Suthra”. The most important attribute of this place is that it is the only original site in Lahore, belonging to the Hindu sect, Suthra which means pure and true. Despite the samadhi being declared a protected monument under the Archaeological sites and Monuments in Punjab Province by the Archaeology Department of Punjab, it could not gain popularity as it remained hidden from the people and not much was written about it.Jhingar was the founder of the Suthra sect and was a renowned and respected faqir (vagrant) during the times of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb AlamgirThe structure of the samadhi is very simple with beautiful carvings. The building is covered in white marble and on it are inscriptions written in black. (I guess these are in Sanskrit and intend to find someone to translate so that I can write about them as well). The carvings are the main attraction of this small structure and I am sure that it must be having some fresco or inlay work as well because it was built in the Mughal era, when such embellishments were common. The structure is built on a slightly raised platform and the interior has arches with the small brick work.The samadhi was ruthlessly damaged by furious mobs after the incident of Babri Mosque in 1992. This monument along with several other Hindi and Sikh holy sites including Jain Mandir and Samadhi Bhai Vasti Ram, was viciously damaged and plundered. Many Sikh associations had been concerned regarding its conservation and restoration as they regard this place as sacred. Over the passage of time, access to the samadhi became difficult as there were wild plantation and waist high shrubs all around the entrance. It became a resting place for drug addicts and the structure had begun to collapse.Then the development of the Greater Iqbal Park was started by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA). PHA had the entire wild plantation removed and the depilated park was transformed it into a scenic one. That was when the Department of Archaeology Punjab also had the Samadhi of Jhingar Shah Suthra restored. The restoration work included consolidation of structures, repairing of cracks, restoration of missing portions, marble slabs with carving and stone inlay work as per original designs, restoration of marble perforated grills/jalis, flooring, ceilings, plaster, flooring, courtyard, doors and the parapets.The small structure is covered in white marble and is inscribed in black textNow you can easily access this structure and take a look at it. I think small boards narrating the history of the place also need to be placed around the small building. There are several similar structures inside the walled city which need to be restored and highlighted. Let me tell you the historical significance of the small samadhi of Jhingar Shah Suthra and the reason it was built. According to historical references, Jhingar Shah belonged to Lahore and also died here. The Samadhi of Jhingar Shah was built on the same place where he was cremated after his death. Jhingar was the founder of the Sutra Sect and was a renowned and respected faqir (vagrant) during the times of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. According to Sikh History Jhingar was born with a black mark on his forehead. His family considered the black mark a bad omen. Thinking that he will bring bad luck; the family disowned and abandoned Jhingar. The mark and the resulting abandonment made him feel guilty and self-conscious and Jhingar lost interest in life. Sometime later he was found by the disciples of Guru Hargobind, who gave him the title of Suthra to bring him out of the guilt of having a black mark. He was also a devotee of Guru Har Rai.Jhingar Shah turned out to be a very kind and pious man. The stories of his honesty, truthfulness and generosity were narrated in many cities at that time. People started respecting him and the stories reached the emperor. He was revered to the extent that Emperor Aurangzeb allowed him to collect one paisa per shop from shop owners of various cities and this is how he made his living for the rest of his life.Historic references tell us that Suthras are known as royal beggars and are still seen in different parts of India. Stories of Jhingar Shah Suthra’s truthfulness and true spirit of helping mankind are narrated even today and a large number of short stories and dramas were written about him.So this is the story of Jhingar Shah Suthra and his samadhi. I hope that now people will start taking an interest in this forgotten site and take a tour of it when visiting the Lahore Fort. Trust me it’s worth it.Published in Daily Times, September 9th 2018.