Riding early morning is best experience one could expect on Sunday. A group of nine individuals set out to explore city of Sharqpur also known as city of saints. During their visit, they passed through villages, gets a boat ride across Ravi River and enjoy amazing foods of Shaqpur. Lets find out how things went when they all get together.
When 5AM alarm beeps on Sunday, this means start of an interesting day. It is time for riding and exploring the unseen surroundings. Unlike other days when you try to hit snooze many times before you wake up; Sundays have been very different than usual. Getting up early before the city starts to awaken is an amazing experience. Less traffic, fresh air and no pollution it can entice any individual to go for sightseeing. We preferred to use our cycles for exploring & our destination was Sharqpur a city ~32KM away from Lahore. The journey is intended to explore foods and distinctions of the city.
Sharqpur is also called “Sharqpur Sharif” a city of saints mainly famous for its historical buildings, sweet cuisines (e.g. Gulab-Jaman), various types of fruits, special type of shoes (e.g. Khussa) and its hard working people. Sharqpur is a Tehsil of Shaikhupura District and a beautiful and flourishing town with many different kinds of flowers, greenery, meadows and gardens of fruits. Strawberry, Lychee, Guava and Oranges are the top growing fruits of this area.
We watched sun rising while we were riding on the opted route via Mohlanwal road. This road goes side by side with the Lahore canal providing a peaceful start to ride. The ride is expected to become hectic when we go off road. We were group of nine cyclists, all of them competitive to do well in modest to skilled difficulty levels.
“Not many tourists come to visit these villages”
Views changed swiftly when we entered Mohlanwal village leaving the straightforward patch from Thokkar to Mohlanwal village. We felt change from melted roads to narrow and crowded streets and from noisy traffic to the vast fields with singing birds. We passed by the kids when they were playing in the streets. They were surprised & wave hands at us for greeting. Elderly people were up early and were working at their farms and fields. Many of them stopped us with their curiosity to know the cause of this ride. Knowing we were going to visit neighbor village, filled their hearts with happiness and joy and they welcomed us to stop by.
We reached on the bank of the Ravi River after passing through dense jungle and dusty pathway. We were intended to cross the river on boat and reach the other side of the river from where we can ride to Sharqpur city. We with our bicycles were boarded early, as the boat was ready to leave when we reached there. It hardly took us 10 minutes to reach to the other side of the river with a fare of Rs10/person.
City of saints is celebrating Uras of its saint; Hazrat Mian Sher Muhammad Sharqpuri (born 1282 AH, or 1865 AD). Respect and devotion for saint drag people from different parts of the province to join the three-day celebration in the city. Prayers lead this celebration for the saint and for the homeland. Different stalls of food are arranged for the devotees and people coming from distance places to pay a visit.
The specialty of the city is its “Gulab Jaman”, the sweet cuisine, which we are after. The “Gulab Jaman” of this city is famous all around Pakistan. We went to a shop and teasted couple of them. They were soft, warm and with the balanced sweetness. They are liked by people of every age; we saw people of every age waiting in queues for eating the cuisine. The shopkeeper told us that they do not weight “Gulab Jaman” while selling. It is considered as a Tabaruk (sacred food) and we rather count than weighing them. Upon asking the reason for that; he said, “Our forefathers went to the saint of the city for consultancy about what business to start? The saint advised them to start making “Gulab jaman” & serve people with them. Behind our successful business we have blessing & prayers of our saint and we do not like to weight them wile selling. The ingredients are changed with season to season. In summers we use small amount of eggs; the min igredeint in the Gulab Jaman is Khoya.” The shop is located near the “Taali wali masjid” in the main bazaar.
When you are in the city don’t miss out the breakfast from “Chamman Sweets” in the main bazaar. It was to tempting and we couldn’t resist trying the Halwa Puri. The Puri was so crispy that it breaks instantly. This was one of the best Puri I have eaten. The “Keema Wali Tikki” basically a “Kachuri” was so tasty, and has its own taste, which touch your taste buds at once. Cholly and Halwa were found to be normal.
Sharqpur is also renown for its special kind of shoes called “Khussa” which is popular throughout Punjab province. The reason behind their outstanding quality is that they are hand crafted without using any machines.
Sharqpur is a small, peaceful and a city of mannered people. People are aware and feel proud of their distinctions. We were not expecting such great food in a small city like this. People were welcoming, friendly and cooperative. Anyone passing by this city, should pay a visit to the main bazaar it would definitely be a worth it.
Pictures by: Afzaal Ahmed / Content: Awais Jibran