- Posted September 19, 2013 by
Heera Mandi Lahore - Pakistan.
Heera Mandi is located in the northwest corner of the Walled City of Lahore, next to Badshahi Masjid (a famous mosque built during Mughal era), Lahore Fort(another Mughal era monument), and Hazuri Bagh(also a Mughal era landmark). During the day the place is much like other local bazaar and which also known for its good traditional food, wide range of Khussa (traditional hand stitched Mughal footwear) and a wide range of traditional musical instruments.
The name heera means diamond in Urdu and was used back in the day by local elite to describe the beauty of the girls in this market. So as the legend goes that this name eventually stuck and the market was called heera mandi. However, it is also said that there is a misconception that name of Heera Mandi has anything to do with beauty of girls in the market. Yet another legend goes by this tale that this bazaar was named Heera Mandi by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Sikh emperor) as a tribute to one of his ministers, Heera Singh.
It also is said that brothel houses in this area were first built and developed by the British for the recreation of their soldiers during the British Raj (rule). And thus Heera Mandi, finally settled as a neighborhood and some of those traces can still be found in some buildings till date.
Since Pakistan declared itself into an Islamic Republic, the topic of prostitution or brothel houses like these has become a taboo – one that is hardly ever discussed in public. So it is very difficult to describe or understand the scale of this corrupt profession in today’s Pakistan. As for now this once glorious bazaar has mostly a mere symbolic existence, as many of the traditional occupants are now settled in posh neighborhoods. They still are loyal to their ancestral profession and the elite manages to patronize them, and like most cases in Pakistan the law or the law enforcers turn a blind eye when they get their share or once their palms are greased with money. So this oldest profession of the world has managed to survive in the often extreme (not very friendly) Islamic society, but for how long? My guess is till we have wealthy powerful businessmen turned politicians flourishing in Islamic republic.
So bottom line don’t expect any change soon, as these ladies may not dress up in traditional wardrobes now and some more minor adjustments might have to be made in our great Pakistan but this world’s oldest profession is here to stay for good, and it sure has a huge fan following and a long queue of never ending admirers.
Write-up Akbar Warris 416-371-9849.