A delegation of five students from India was taken down a page of history, as they received a guided tour of the Quaid's mausoleum on Tuesday.
The five stood at the door of the mausoleum and looked in awe of the white marble-carved grave, the 80-foot-long crystal chandelier from China that hangs from the round ceiling and the men in uniform who change command and stamp every five minutes.
The students, who landed at Karachi airport on Monday along with a team leader, are visiting Pakistan on a 10-day trip as part of an exchange programme.
The tour is part of an ongoing initiative taken by the Rotary Club and Aman ki Asha - a collaboration between the Jang Group and Times of India-to improve relationships between India and Pakistan by helping boost people-to-people contact between the two South Asian neighbours.
"There are seven levels of the Quaid's mausoleum, for the seven skies, and at the highest is the mausoleum signifying the belief that our leader rests peacefully in the seventh sky," explained Major Atta Mir as he guided the delegation through a narrow staircase to a huge white marble hall, where the grave lies.
The basement where Jinnah was buried is not open to the public. It is a huge white well-lit hall, with hand-crafted marbles and glass, occupying the walls.
The mausoleum was constructed at the highest natural point of Karachi - 90 feet above sea level - and was opened to the public in the year 1971. "The architect was handpicked by Fatima Jinnah, who chose Yahya Merchant from Mumbai".
The delegation was then taken to the museum in the vicinity, which held the Quaid's personal belongings, including his black Cadillac and white Packard. "The Cadillac cost Rs2,500 in 1938," the major smiled.
As the delegation was taken through the pictures that told the Quaid's story, and showed Rattan Bai's mad love and Fatima Jinnah's unwavering support. A copy of the Holy Quran gifted by Hassan Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was also placed in a glass cubicle.
"I loved the Cadillac, and also the story of Jinnah's sister and wife. It makes him sound like a person, and not just a cold distant leader from the past," said Sachi, who likes to study history, "when it is out of the classroom".
Tanima Narang, a national level badminton player and the liveliest of the group, compared the mausoleum to Gandhi's in Delhi. "That is just a grave in the middle of vast gardens; people light candles there."
The curious girl went around the grave, and asked for translations for each of the Quranic verses engraved.
Karan, who takes keen interest in history, had his camera on record mode throughout the session. "It's different when you actually visit the place. I had googled the place back home in Agra. The tour was very informative."
There were others who were still lost in the black Cadillac, "I wonder how cheap petrol was back then," muses Prath, a charter accounting student in the delegation.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
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