From Octroi post to residential colony to commercial hub, this City centre area has seen a change.
Driving a vehicle, nowadays, could be inconvenient in this congested area adjacent to the City centre of Lal Chowk, but during the Dogra rule, Abi Guzar on the Jhelum banks was the octroi post for navigation through the river.
Historians say till later part of the 19th century there was hardly any means of road transportation as automobile was yet to pave way into the Valley. Those days, like many places elsewhere, water navigation was preferred medium of transportation of people and goods alike. Jhelum worked the same way for Kashmir. But then the movement couldn’t come without tax.
“Abi Guzar was a octroi post for entry or exit of goods ferried in boats,” says expert on heritage and former Director General of Tourism Muhammad Salim Baig.
“Those days goods were ferried in boats from Khanbal to Khatniyar in north through river Jhelum,” recalls elderly Muhammad Ibrahim Qureshi of Abi Guzar area.
Those days, he says, the area was known as Guzarwan. “It later came to be known as Abi Guzar,” he adds.
Oldies say a building on the Jhelum banks used to be the octroi office where from the officials of the Dogra regime would work.
Elderly Qureshi recalls his days spent on the streets of Abi Guzar when he was a child. He says the Abi Guzar bund was dotted with houseboats upto Zero bridge where visitors mostly foreigners would stay. Many of them worked with the office of the then British Residency.
He said most of the shops on the adjacent bund catered to the needs of the foreigners.
“The Abi Guzar bund used to be a vehicle free zone and not even a bicycle was allowed,” recall some oldies of the area.
But after the turmoil in ‘90s there came a change in the business in the area. Says Nazir Ahmed, of Kawa Arts Emporium: “Till a few decades back, the Kashmiri embroidery was running profitably but in ‘90s, things changed.”
Since then many traders changed the business. “Earlier it used to be a tourist area but now most of the visitors are local customers who come here to buy readymade garments or get some embroidery done on clothes,” said a trader.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 18 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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