“My Old but Ever New Pindi” (Part 7)

By Rafique Ahmed Khan, Dubai

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Rafique Ahmed Khan

Editor’s Note: The writer was born and brought up in Rawalpindi. He studied in Denny’s High School, Mission High School and Gordon College. He worked as a Consultant in Provisioning & Stock Control and Logistics in various Organisations. Finally retired from PIA and now lives in Dubai. He is writing a series of articles about the life in Rawalpindi during 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Continued from Part 6 ………..

Rawalpindi City was surrounded by various small localities called DHOKES, like DHOKE RATTA, DHOKE KHABBA, DHOKE KHILLU, DHOKE PEERA FAQIRA, DHOKE KHANNA, etc; and during pre Partition period these localities were supposed to be fa- flung areas beyond the Municipal boundaries, but now they have become integral parts of the inner city area due to expansion of the city.

Inside the city the localities were made to mainly three types viz; all Hindus, all Muslims and mixed with both the nationalities. Hindu/Sikh localities were Krishan Pura, Mohan Pura, Amar Pura, Kartar Pura, Angat Pura and had beautiful Hindu temples and Sikh Gurdawars in their localities. After the Partition most of these religious places have vanished, converted into  residential houses, whereas some are still existing in very poor condition. One such beautiful temple with a large area in Kohati Bazaar has been converted into a school for the blind.

Gurdawara at Bagh Sardaraan, Rawalpindi

Gurdawara at Bagh Sardaraan, Rawalpindi

Mohin Mandir (Temple) at Lunda Bazaar, Rawalpindi

Mohin Mandir at Lunda Bazaar, Rawalpindi.

A Gurdawara in Bagh Sardaran was occupied by Police for their official residence. In Lunda Bazaar a very beautiful temple was built by two Hakims which is now in a very dilapidated condition. These Hindu Hakims by the names of Moti Ram & Asa Ram were very famous during the 1920s. During pre Partition days it was a big attraction to listen early in mornings the melodious sounds of Artys and Paatths sung by Hindus & Sikhs audible from long distances.

Upto 1940s of the last century the Hakims of all the nationalities were running their Matabs (Clinics). Few of them were Hakim Abdul Kalique, Hakim Mohammad Musa, Hakim Amir Ali, Hakim Abdul Rabb, Hakim Ayub, etc. In adition to the Hakims there used to be Pansaarys (Pharmists) who used to sell herbal medicines. Some of them I remember as Narain Pansaari, Kartar Pansaari who used to distill the Araqs, like Chahar Araq, Araq Saunf, Araq Ajwaine, etc at their shops. They also used to make pure syrups like Sharbat Banafsha, Sharbat Shahtoot, Sharbat Falsa, Sharbat Anaar, Sharbat Bazoori, etc.

A present day Pansari Shop.

A present day Pansari Shop.

There was another type of herbal medicine called Maajoon. It was a paste and contained many herbs including metals like gold silver and pearls. This type of paste was very difficult to make and had to pass through various stages of manufacture. Many of such Maajoons were so costly that common patients could not think of affording to buy. This medicine was used as a very effective tonic and effectively used in chronic cases. One element used in these Maajoons was Salaajeet which is available on at the extreme and difficult heights of the Himalaya Mountains.

Another herbal tonic was Sharbat Maaul Hem. It was extracted from the juices of many types of birds/animals meat, fruits and vegetables. It was also a very costly tonic afforded by only the rich people.

Medicines rack of a present day Dawakhana.

Medicines rack of a present day Dawakhana.

Another herbal medicine was called Kushta. It was in the form of powder and took various lengthy stages to make. It was also very costly because costly metals like gold, silver, copper, pearls and various poisons were used in the difficult manufacturing stages. It was also used as highly effective tonic and cure of chronic diseases. These herbal medicines were available in powder, liquid and paste condition with all Pansaarys and Dawa Khanas situated all over the city. Some of the famous Dawa Khanas were Shamali Dawa KhanaDelhi Dawa Khana, and Rehmania Dawa Khana.

Every famous Hakim had one small box duly sealed/locked and fixed on his table, which contained his secret recipe. No one was allowed access to this recipe which would remain a secret till his death.

Old Marconi Radio.

Old Marconi Radio.

In 1930s radios came in the market; and my father bought one radio set Marconi 6 valves for Rs. 300 from Shaw’s Electrics, a shop owned by two British brothers. Soon the market was flooded with other brands like Phillips, HMV, Midwest, Minerva, Westinghouse, Murphy, etc.

By the time All India Radio had started broadcasting programmes, which started from 5 in the evening till midnight. It was all music programmes with news aired at 9 O’ Clock during night only. Mostly the classical music was a major item in the programmes. I remember one singer took more than one hour to complete his item of some raag. Then the programmes started in three transmissions i.e., morning, mid day and evening till midnight. The children programmes also started soon after. On Fridays the programmes started with the recitation of Holy Quran followed by Naats and Qwalies. On Tuesdays the programmes started with Hindu religious literature followed by Bhajans.

Behzad Lakhnavi


Behzad Lakhnav,i the poet, was a frequent orator reciting his poems. All India Radio started publishing their programmes fortnightly in their Chronicle AWAZ. The annual subscription was Rs. 2. This magazine used to arrive regularly by post from Delhi. This action facilitated the listeners to switch on their radios to listen to the programme of their choice. Soon after the dramas also started being aired, which added to the number of listeners. During those days a private Radio had also started transmissions from Peshawar at 200 meter band medium wave. A famous singer from Peshawar was one Master Faqir Hussain who used to sing frequently from Peshawar. From Delhi the main singers were Shamshad Begum, Umrao Zia Begum, Rafiq Ghaznavi, Master Madan (a young boy singer who sang for a short time as he died at the age of 15 in 1942), Malka Pukhraj, Malka Jharia, Angur Bala and numerous other singers.

Singers Shamshad Begum, Rafiq Ghaznavi, Master Madan, Malka Pukhraj and Angurbala

In 1939 World War 2 started and many more radio stations started their transmissions from Lahore, Bombay, Calcutta and Lucknow. But they were broadcasting on low power medium wave band, and could not be picked up in Rawalpindi. During war Radio Berlin started propaganda against British in Urdu in the evenings for one hour (5:3o PM to 6:00 PM and then 8:30 PM to 9:00PM).

Propaganda Leaflet by Germans in Urdu to get Indian soldiers to listen to German Radio

Every radio owner started listening to Radio Berlin secretly who exposed the Allies in case a wrong information was broadcasted on their radio. I still remember a lot of our friends without radio used to gather at our house to listen to radio Berlin. But we being afraid of CID roaming all over the city were very cautious. Our servant used to stand at our door to watch for any doubtful intruder sniffing around. TO BE CONTINUED …………

Propaganda Leaflet by Germans in Urdu during World War 2 to drive a wedge between Indian soldiers and British officers
Propaganda Leaflet by Germans in Urdu during World War 2 to drive a wedge between Indian soldiers and British officers, text

Related Pages:
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 1)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 2) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 3) 
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 4)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 5) 
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 6)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 7)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 8)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 9)

My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 10)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 11)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 12)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 13)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 14)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 15)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 16)
My Old But Ever New Pindi (Part 17)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 18)
My Old but Ever New Pindi (Part 19)
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi  
Rawalpindi Blog 

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  1. Saadia Khalid says:

    I have heard from old Pindi walas that in Pindi, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lived amicably and after independence, Hindus and Sikhs were garlanded at the railway station and given an emotional farewell. But, now have heard that Sikhs were massacred in Pindi and this caused killing of Muslims in East Punjab. Please enlighten us on this phase of History, as you are the Primary source.


      Dear Madam,
      You have rightly heard that before Partition all Muslims and non-Muslims used to lived very amicably as briefed in my memoirs. There was appreciable harmony, good will and good relationship amongst all of them. The departure of the non-Muslims at the Railway Station was very impressive. It clearly looked from the faces and the body language of the the emigrants how reluctantly and painfully they were leaving their birth places. They were sure to come back as they considered the turmoil would soon be over to enable them come back. The unfortunate massacre occurred on the both sides of the border; and both sides could be answerable for the unforgettable tragedy. This historical, unprecedented, unfortunate, divide, massacre & mass migration will ever remain to haunt the memories of the affected persons. The masses who witnessed the great tragedy believe it to be horrible nightmare with prayer not to happen again.

  2. Farooq Ellahi says:

    Very nice information about use of radio in those days. keep it up.

  3. Riffet khan says:

    Rafique Sb,
    Very nice article.

  4. A very elaborate article. I visited Rawalpindi when I was 7 years old on marriage of my cousin in Mohan Pura in early 1940s and also stayed overnight while going from Jammu to Bannu during that period on another marriage. I remember buying chalghozay (Niaoze) from a vendor in an open bazaar.

    • Dear Mr. Madan,
      Thank you for the appreciating message. I had one very fast friend Madan from Hoshiarpur who worked in the Military Dairy Farms Rawalpindi. In spite of my best efforts I could not trace him.

  5. Superb article full of detail!!

  6. Maj (R) Tariq Virk says:

    Dear Rafique Sahib,
    It is really superb write up. I have enjoyed and shared with my many friends. Can you also write something about its famous food like “Faqiray dey Cholay” (still available on Murree Road near Committee Chowk)?

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Maj Tariq Virk,
      Thank you for your appreciating encouragement. I am trying my best to recollect my memories and present them exactly I witnessed the same during early life.

  7. Major (R) Muhammad Javaid-ul-Hussan says:

    Thanks a lot for providing this information to the new generation about Pindi. Rawalpindi was a beautiful city, it is still beautiful and would be the same in future as well, InshaAllah.
    Allah bless you, sir.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Major Javaid-ul-Hussan,
      Many thanks for your gracious appreciation please. May God bless you.

  8. I have gone through all your write ups. Each one was so absorbing and scintillating. Your style of narration is superb and your photogenic memory praiseworthy. My fond regards.

  9. Lt Col Masood Alam (Retd) says:

    Thank you sir. A wonderful write up which has made me much wiser on Rawalpindi and came to know many things which I did not know. I am sure you must have many other topics in mind which we all would love to read. Thanks once again.Waiting for your next write up. Regards.

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Masood Alam,
      I have to thank you sir, for such an encouraging & gracious appreciation.

  10. Col (R) Absar Ahmad Minhas says:

    Rafique Sahib,
    You have made an exclusive effort to narrate good old days of Rawalpindi. Only a person with a deep sense of belonging to his roots and the ability to express can do it. Your explanation of Rawalpindi and its environs/people is such a valuable addition to this website that no words can adequately appreciate.
    Thank you very much for providing us an interesting and absorbing reading. May Allah bless you.

    • Dear Col Absar,
      I am so thankful to you for your gracious comments on my memoires. You are so kind to express your encouraging and appreciating views in this regard.
      May God Bless you.

  11. Dear Rafique Ahmed Khan and Col Cheema,
    Both of you are doing commendable job. I recommend that all other Pindiites should also make their contribution. Faisal Tirmizi, grandson of Head Master Niaz Ahmed Tirmizi of Muslim High School, should also add to this forum his young age memories. I have been busy in moving to TN from FL USA and taking long time to resettle down. I shall start writing again soon.
    I am sure Col Cheema should think of compiling a Book of the memories of Rawalpindi and market it which no wonder should become part of history
    Faisal Tirmizi welcome to USA on your new appointment and it was a great pleasure talking to you.

  12. Shaheda Rizvi, Canada says:

    Hon. Rafique Ahmed Khan,

    What a masterpiece!! Your historical rendition is an art form loaded with facts and read like fiction. I have enjoyed every segment and this segment is by far my favourite one!!
    Thank you very much.

  13. Lt Col (R) Zafar Mustafa says:

    Rafique Sahib,
    Once again, I must pay compliments to your wonderful memory and a most readable style of writing. Editor has also done a fine job as usual.

  14. Nasir Sultan says:

    Very nice narration of the past, by Rafiq sahib, keep adding your memories when you find time. Thanks Col Rashid Cheema (Editor), for your contribution to circulate to so many.

  15. Azam Gill, France says:

    Rafique Sahib,
    Thank you once again for resuscitating our colourful and rich past: glory and power to your penmanship, sir.

  16. Maj Gen (R) Parvez Akmal says:

    Excellent historic account again; congrats Rafique Sb. Looking forward to more. Editing effort by Col Cheema is superb too. I got busy in some family events but would send some poems soon to Col Cheema. Profound regards.

  17. Muhammad Shahin says:

    Commendable and lovely article. It’s an honor for all Pindiites to have such a nice soul who is keeping us remembering our old Rawalpindi. Thank you Rafique Sahib. May Allah bless you with a long life. Ameen.

  18. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, USA says:

    I often meet people who spent their childhood in Pindi before partition during my postings abroad. Amazingly the stay has kept its attraction even after so many years.

  19. Brig (R) Asad Hakeem says:

    Wonderful job by the writer and the editor.

  20. Nadeem Ahmad says:

    Wonderful article on pre Partition Rawalpindi.

  21. Rafique Sahib, You are Masha Allah a wonderful historian. Please continue the good work of writing Pindi’s history.
    I’ve tried to adorn your article with some pics appropriate to the text. Hope you would like these. 🙂

    • Rafique Ahmed Khan says:

      Dear Lt Col Rashid Cheema,
      Many thanks for your wonderful & encouraging help. It is just like I am making statues & you are putting life in them. Thanking you again.

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