Iqbal Manzil was purchased in 1861 by Mohammad Rafique, the great-grandfather of Allama Mohammed Iqbal – the famous poet! The house was originally very small, but each successor kept adding to it and the building grew in size. After the death of his father, Allama Iqbal named his elder brother, Ata Mohammad, the owner of the house. Ata Mohammed left two sons after his death who left the house and took up residences in Karachi and Lahore.
The Sialkot district government has renovated only a part of the 150-years old Iqbal Manzil, the birthplace of Allama Iqbal, the poet of East, in Sialkot in a bid to save this national heritage from collapsing. The Iqbal Manzil remained a victim of negligence of the concerned officials of the departments responsible for the look after of this national heritage. Now, after a long wait, the cracks in the walls of building have been filled. The building has been whitewashed and carpeted besides installation of UPS system.
The decades old and torn curtains have also been changed. However, the Iqbal Manzil still remains in shambles, and is closed for the visitors due to its miserable condition. The back walls of the Iqbal Manzil are also in dilapidated condition, which have been halted from collapsing with the iron stands affixed beneath them. The concerned officials have not yet focused on the early repairing of this dilapidating part of the building. The management has displayed some new rare pictures of Allama Iqbal, his family members, his teachers, class fellows and other leaders of the All India Muslim League in attractive frames. Most of these rare photos have the autographs of Allama Iqbal.
There are more than 4000 old books in the library, established in a small room of Iqbal Manzil, including 2000 books on Iqbaliyat alone. Officials said that no special budget has ever been allocated by any one for purchasing the books containing the advance research on Allama Iqbal. They said that the visitors donated all of the 4000 books. Officials said that the number of the daily visitors have jumped up to 200 visitors after renovation of Iqbal Manzil, which earlier had dropped to only few dozens daily due to the crumbling condition of this building. Many tourists come especially to Sialkot to take a look at the poet’s home, which has now been restored as part of national heritage, where he lived and wrote poetry that one day would make him the legend that he is!
Despite its importance, the building is not very well tended, and the old house and its beautiful façade have started to crumble! The Archaeology Department and the government should give the building due importance, and restore it to its historical beauty. All the rooms should be renovated, and the museum made attractive to encourage more visits by the locals and foreigners.
Riaz Hussain Naqvi has been the curator at the Iqbal Manzil since 1986. In these last 18 years, he has been immersed completely in the restoration and rebuilding of this crumbling historic building. He has been successful in refurbishing the building to quite an extent, but he still has many ambitious plans for the late Poet’s house.it was sheer pleasure to talk to a man, who is so dedicated and committed to his profession, which, in fact, is also his passion.
When Mr. Riaz Naqvi joined Iqbal Manzil as its in-charge, there wasn’t even any running water and electricity available at the house, and most parts of the building were dangerously close to collapsing. He then took immediate adequate measures to save the old building. Infact, at times, Mr. Naqvi has spent on the renovation out of his own pocket, one example of which are the numerous family photos and portraits lining the walls of this ancestral home. Mr. Naqvi acquired and framed most of these photos at his own expense. His passion for restoring the building and recounting the life and history of Allama Mohammad Iqbal seems insatiable.
One of the most notable achievements is in renewing the library at the Iqbal Manzil which was shut down and almost in shambles when he was appointed the curator in 1986. Many literary pieces to the library, and allowed the people to sit and read in the library free of cost. Now, as soon as you enter Iqbal Manzil, you can see people of all ages, sitting in the hall enjoying the dailies and other books. Here is a large library by collecting books, both on and by Iqbal, from all over the world where research is being conducted on the poet and his works.
Iqbal Manzil also accomplished another feat when he facilitated 5 students to attain their Ph.D on the works of Iqbal by letting them study from the vast library on Iqbal currently available in the Iqbal Manzil. He hopes to see more young people interested in Iqbal and aspiring to do thorough research on his poetry.
Iqbal manzil is an immense help to Pakistan for his dedicated efforts to save a national heritage. He hopes to revamp the entire outlook of the building by more renovation, and also by bringing back artifacts which originally belonged to Iqbal Manzil, but are currently on display in Lahore at the Jawed Manzil. Mr. Riaz Hussain Naqvi sincerely hopes to make Iqbal Manzil a historical landmark which will be able attract people from all over the subcontinent, and the rest of the world!