The Royal Trail Project
To begin with the conservation and restoration of the Walled City of Lahore the Royal Trail or Shahi Guzargah route was selected in the first phase. This route starts from Delhi Gate ending at the majestic Lahore Fort . This locale is called so as the Mughal Emperors travled through the same route while going to Lahore Fort from Delhi. This trail has immense value in terms of the heritage and monuments. The Shahi Guzargah links many of the landmark monuments of the Walled City, including the Delhi Gate, Shahi Hammam, the Chowk Wazir Khan, Wazir Khan Mosque, Sonheri Masjid, Chuna Mandi Girls College, Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das, the Begum Shahi Mosque and the Lahore Fort. The same route is enriched with havelis and heritage homes.
The Shahi Guzargah project was launched in 2012. The main objective of this project was to improve the living conditions of the residents and to provide them with improved and modern infrastructure facilities without damaging the historic fabric. In its interventions, the project has been an extremely complex but rich and rewarding one. Beginning from Delhi Gate, WCLA has restored a 1.6 km long stretch of the heritage trail leading up to Chowk Kotwali. The trail comprises 99 streets, 700 Houses and 509 shops. The restoration was based on two main components: The Infrastructure Development and Façade Improvement. The façade of all these buildings was restored by WCLA.
The infrastructure services laid on the Royal Trail included underground high voltage electricity, new orderly ways of distributing electricity connections to consumers, new telecommunications infrastructure, new gas delivery lines, new trunk water supply services and water supply networks in the tiny streets. To provide safe and better standards of public health the sewerage network was separated from a new storm water drainage service. It is pertinent to mention here that almost 70% of the work done is under the ground as the improvement of electricity and sewerage demanded that. Now while walking on the Royal Trail you will not find any ugly hanging wires or transformers hiding the eye-catching stunning view of the heritage trail and monuments. The open drain system has also been covered and taken underground for safety and hygiene purposes. Ages old sewerage pipes have also been replaced with the latest ones.
The project also included removal of shops and other properties that had encroached into the public right of way, and the provision of street pavement and urban furniture. For the first time, the faces of two monuments Shahi Hammam and Wazir Khan Mosque were exposed by removing the encroachments upon its façade. Almost 57 encroachments from Shahi Hammam and 73 encroachments covering Wazir Khan Mosque and its Northern facade have been permanently removed. The removal of all encroachments was based on a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) according to the guidelines of the World Bank. The RAP was devised to compensate the encroachers financially and relocate them. The purpose of the RAP was to bring the encroached monuments and streets back to their original magnificence. While walking on the Royal Trail you can take a look at these magnificent landmarks of the past splendor. The first stage (package -1) of this project, from Delhi Gate to Chowk Purani Kotwali just beyond the Wazir Khan Mosque, was completed in 2015 and the second stage ( Package -2) from Chowk Kotwali up to Masti Gate was completed in 2018. A total amount of Rs. 500 million was spent on Package – 1 and Rs. 890 million on Package -2.
At present, the infrastructure and façade rehabilitation work is in progress on package 4 starting from Kotwali Chowk to Sonehri Mosque. Under the project, the facade of 162 buildings will be rehabilitated and 33 streets would be constructed for the betterment of the local community. So far, 50 buildings have been rehabilitated and 22 buildings are under process presently. Similarly,12 different streets have been completed and 5 are under process. This project of Rs. 315 million would be completed in February 2022.