Javed Manzil: A Wrinkle in Time
Every Pakistani is cognizant of the importance of Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal in the history of Pakistan. He is well regarded as the national poet and philosopher of Pakistan. However, not a lot of us are aware of the existence of a museum dedicated to him in Lahore. Javed Manzil was Iqbal’s last residence and now serves as a monument to his life.
It is located on Allama Iqbal Road (but of course). The building can be found on the main Garhi Shahu road. I originally headed there on a Wednesday morning. Do not make the same mistake. Wednesday is the only day of the week that the museum is not open to visitors. In summers you can head there between 8:30 am to 5 pm, except for their break between 12 pm to 2:30 pm. In winters you can visit between 9 am to 4 pm, they don’t seem to have a break in winters. The reason I’m being so specific is that I’ve tasted the bitter disappointment of reaching the museum and having to turn back.
Lets cut to my successful visit of Javed Manzil on a Saturday afternoon, accompanied by my husband this time. As I walked through the wrought-iron gate, the first thing I noticed was “Javed Manzil” written atop the front porch. We started to make our way to the garden where a sculptural bust of Allama Iqbal was erected, however, our detour was cut short. We were told the museum tour of Javed Manzil was to be conducted from the other end of the building. On a signboard nearby we noticed a map that explained the layout of the museum and it’s accompanying structures. There’s an auditorium and a library under construction so try to ignore the rubble and dust.
Outside the entrance of Javed Manzil, there’s another sculpture of Allama Iqbal and some information about him. Inside Javed Manzil, the same information is given in English and Urdu along with a map of the museum for assistance. A large sign announces that photography is not allowed without pre-approval, which I was smart enough to seek. The museum staff is very helpful and well informed.
As directed, we made our way to the first room which contained Allama Iqbal’s certificates and degrees, handwritten notes on his poetry and the first editions of some of his books. The next room we were led to contained hand-written and printed letters to and from Iqbal in English and Urdu on display, along with speeches for and by him. In one room of Javed Manzil, portraits of Iqbal and his family hung on the wall. The next part of our tour was the most exciting and sadly the most short-lived. We were led to a space where we were able to observe some of Iqbal’s personal effects; his bowties, shoes, shalwar kameez, sherwani, coats, and collars, to name a few. My favorite was his passport, with a picture of him looking nothing short of dapper. Everything was encased in glass which led me to conclude that the decay of these items was not to be blamed upon the management of Javed Manzil
As we explored Javed Manzil, I could not help but ponder over his life, the museum felt like a time capsule. We were led to his bedroom; a large bookshelf which was full to the brim, a single bed with his shoes still placed at the bottom, and a clock which is famously rumored to have been stopped by his servant at the time of his death. Other things displayed here included his diary and shaving kit. We also explored the living room and dining room, it felt like we were traveling back in time. History has the ability to make one feel inconsequential, especially when standing in the shadows of giants.
The tour of Javed Manzil is a short but sweet experience; a personal look into Allama Iqbal’s life.