The City She Was – Journal

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This is in reference to the letter “In Poor Condition” (October 28) which describes the extremely poor civic conditions prevailing in the ancient city of Jhelum. This is quite disappointing for me, as I have wonderfully nostalgic memories of my hometown, where we lived until 1957.

The house given to my father by his employers, Pakistan Railways, had a huge orchard. It included a wide variety of fruit trees, including pomelo (chakotra), which is now extinct in Pakistan. It was once a large grapefruit, but red from the inside when ripe.

A creeper of white roses around a tall tree greeted visitors upon entering through the wooden door, which could be easily opened from the outside, as there were no security concerns at the time.

The city has historical significance as the first encounter between Alexander the Great and the Indian Raja Porus took place on the banks of the Jhelum River in 326 BC. Porus surrendered to Alexander despite his large army and 200 battle-trained elephants. When Alexander asked him how he wanted to be treated, Porus famously replied, “Treat me as a king would treat another king.” Impressed, Alexander treated him with dignity.

Jhelum Railroad Settlement is located on a hill. According to the vine, the mound had come into being due to the fallen temporary houses intended for Alexander’s troops. At the base of the settlement, an old man lived in a mud house which had a collection of ancient coins dug by him over the years.

At that time, the Jhelum River was a spectacular sight and visitors to its banks had a great time interacting with serenity, especially in the morning when the cool cool breeze attracted a large number of “walkers”.

The civil administration and other concerned bodies should restore the glory of Jhelum so that people can once again enjoy the sounds and sights of a great city.

Parve Rahim
Karachi

Posted in Dawn, November 7, 2022

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