In 2008, I visited the Museum of Flight near Seattle, in Everett, in USA, with my family. I was happy to see a woman who had come there alone on a wheelchair with a person to assist her. It was heartening to see this woman who must be in her eighties, visiting the museum. Like any Pakistani, I felt bad that one never sees such a sight in Pakistan. Though the elderly do come over with their families, but a person seldom comes on the wheelchair, as facilities are hard to find here. It would be the same in case of any handicapped or special person who has the time to visit such museums yet, has no facility of the kind. Anyhow, I’m just showing you this place, so when you come to Islamabad next, do go over to visit this memorial and museum.
You will love it, as I did. It is not too large either and can be seen within an hour and a half if you are in a hurry. Otherwise, a couple of hours would be lovely too.
However, I have a wheelchair for each of my parents, and decided to take them to see the Islamabad Museum on February 27th 2018. Since I had to take Dad’s helper along, so there wasn’t enough space for two wheelchairs. I thought, there would certainly be another one at the museum, so we went off.
The Sir Syed Memorial is located on the service lane at right angle to the Serena Hotel in G 5 area. We reached well in time, however, we found that there wasn’t another wheelchair there. So, we decided to leave one parent outside in the car, to enjoy the lovely weather, while the other one saw the museum. It was a challenge, but what else could we do? Being the sweet persons they are, they happily agreed.
I had been to this memorial earlier with the Finishing School Visit when Brig Shafi who was in charge. Over a cup of tea, he would himself give us a wonderful talk on how as a young man, he had seen Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah at Aligarh University delivering his speech. This was before the independence of Pakistan.
Aligarh is the university which was built by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in the later part of nineteenth century in India. Now, it has been Brig. Shafi’s dream to build a university of the same caliber here in Islamabad. He has donated his own land for this purpose also.
As you enter The Sir Syed Memorial, main hall, you will see two very long murals on either side of it. These are paintings depicting the history of Pakistan from 1857 till the time of creation of Pakistan. It has well composed paintings which go along the entire length of the hall on both sides. It is truly impressive. These walls are depicting history of the region from 1857 till the end of that century.
There are familiar faces of personalities like Brigadier Shafi also among the persons listening to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan along with Dr. Qadeer the nuclear scientist, General Musharaf and many other leaders who weren’t there at that time, but who made major contributions of the people of our country. There are many leaders of Pakistan, who gave their lives for the creation of Pakistan.
The entrance to the Islamabad Museum is a humble one and I met Anil Naqvi who is assistant of Asadullah Khan the person in-charge of this wonderful museum. I told him that my parents will have to come one by one due to unavailability of a wheelchair. He was willing to conduct the tour twice for each of them.
He said he felt bad at not having thought of having a wheelchair there. He said, ‘we will make sure we have a wheelchair here for next time.’
He was kind enough to give separate conducted tours to each of my parents. Here is Anil explaining the historical details to my mother.
Truly the visit was extremely informative, the artifacts here began from ten million years BC, in this Potohar region, coming up to the present times.
The history of stone age, and later the Indus Valley Civilization, Gandhara Art and the Mughal era all were amazingly beautiful. The relics displayed here were really awesome. He said, the materials displayed are not even half of the numbers that have been stored. These shall be displayed in the proper National Islamabad Museum which will be built in the Shakarparian hills nearby. The land has been allocated for it. I can imagine it will be another five to six years, at least before the structure is up.
Till then, we must enjoy this little museum, as it has pieces which are truly fascinating. I took some pictures (with permission.) I enjoyed it more, as Anil showed these with equal zeal to my parents who were really interested and keen.
More so because many of these places we all had been to ourselves, for instance we had visited Mohenjodaro in 1981, when my father drove us there. He had also driven us to Bambore a place near Karachi, and there were photographs of that place here too. Also, we had been to Taxila which is on the other side of these lovely Margalla hills.
We are truly blessed to be inheritors of such a rich past spanning ten million years; Right from the stone age, going through one of the greatest civilizations of the world the Indus Civilization, to Gandhara in Taxilla region, the Sikh, Mughal and British era emerging into the Pakistan of today. It is a heritage to be proud of ; which was democratic, artistic and embracing all the religions of the world in its arms. We have a beautiful legacy to take forward into this twenty first century. 🙂
Note: All the pictures have been taken by myself. Yes, I agree they should have been better. Yet, I kept these as I want you to have an idea of what lies here, and to visit the place and enjoy seeing each of these beautiful and priceless artifacts showing our thousands of years of history.