Shah Qila Heritage Fest
23-24 January, 2004

The Karavan Mera Virsa HeritageFest 2004 was the first assembly of its kind when the youth of the country from all social strata were entertained in the great Mughal citadel normally reserved for the elite and the privileged. The event helped to bring about large-scale awareness regarding Mughal heritage and culture and the Fort itself.

The Shahi Qila or Mughal Fort is an architectural gem of the Mughal era and is situated in the north west corner of the Walled City of Lahore. The citadel is spread over 50 acres and is trapezoidal in form. The citadel is divided into various sections, each creating its own world within its quadrangle but they are all interconnected for ease of administration of the Fort.

The Shahi Qila Heritage Fest was organized as a KaravanPakistan Heritage Safeguarding Initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture & Youth Affairs, UNESCO and PSO to create an awareness amongst the student community about the richness and diversity of their heritage. The Festival attracted schools from all over Pakistan to participate in a two-day festival encompassing Heritage Mural painting and Heritage Theatre at the Heritage Site itself. This proved to be a dynamic way of introducing the Heritage Site of the Shahi Qila to the student community, teachers and parents. It also helped to develop a rapport between the students participating in theatre performances and the Heritage Site as the historical status of the building and the historic events that unfolded there were invoked through the performances. The children’s assembly became a truly national one due to the participation of a 35-student strong contingent brought in by the Federal Ministry of Culture and Youth Affairs from Baluchistan, NWFP, FATA, Azad Kashmir, Northern Areas and Islamabad and a 5-student strong contingent from Bahawalpur from Sadiq Public School on Karavan’s request.

The Karavan Heritage Fest held in Shahi Qila, Lahore drew 58 participant schools from Lahore and Karachi and an audience of one thousand school children to watch the Karavan Heritage Mural being painted by over 500 children and 10,000 children to watch the 6-1/2 hour long performances by scores of Karachi and Lahore schools.

On the first day of the Festival, the 23rd of January, 2004, the Karavan World Heritage Mural was initiated in the various quadrangles of Shahi Qila, Lahore. More than 50 school s participated, each school painting a 8’x5’ canvas, to prepare a gigantic mural. This Mural is likely to become the longest painted mural in Pakistan that celebrates the Heritage Sites of Pakistan.

On the second day of the Festival, 24th January, 2004, with the Diwaan-e-Aam as the backdrop, participating schools presented performances to thousands of students including schools of the Walled City, Lahore.

On the 25th of January, in a grand gesture of goodwill and to underscore the importance of such national events, Lt. Gen. Khalid Maqbool, then Governor Punjab invited the participants and out-of–town schools to a reception in their honour at the historic Governor’s House (900 students and teachers). The 400 foot long Karvan Heritage Mural was stretched out for display. During the Karavan Certificate Award Ceremony the Governor awarded certificates to participating students while Ms. Ingeborg Breines Representative UNESCO awarded prizes to the winners of the mural painting and performances.