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Nauroz, the day that marks the beginning of the Persian Calendar’s New Year, will be celebrated on March 21, primarily by Iranis and Parsis. On this day, Parsis attend special prayers at their temples, after which they celebrate with fervour – and good food. This year, like those before it, the small yet impressive agyari (fire temple) in Rawalpindi will be frequented by the city’s Parsi community.
Rawalpindi’s one and only fire temple… This is Rawalpindi’s only Parsi temple, and is located near a bustling commercial pocket on Murree Road, one of Rawalpindi’s primary thoroughfares. Built in 1898 by a Parsi merchant family, this single-storey structure is pale peach in colour and has white doors. It is located in a compound with plenty of trees; a well-planned graveyard is located within the compound.
A bustling commercial hub… In proximity to the Temple is Rawalpindi’s famous Sarafa Bazaar, where myriad jewellery shops are located, which are especially well-frequented during the run-up to the wedding season, the well-known Maarva Marriage Hall, and a market which specialises in Chinioti furniture. The Unani Dawa Khana which specialises in alternate medicinal remedies, as well as the iconic Naz Cinema that attracts movie buffs from Rawalpindi and Wah, are located nearby. Several eateries, ranging from khokas that serve doodh-patti and kahva to KFC, as well as a few bakeries, also have a presence there.
Greenery, too… Several parks have sprung up recently, as part of the Government’s ‘Green Drive’, which involved the conversion of vacant plots into green spaces; popular parks include Halal Masjid Park and Usman Ghani Park.
The real estate take… This part of Murree Road was developed in the 1990s, and commercial property options are primarily restricted to small, standalone shops. Over the years, a few low-rise buildings have been constructed which have either been converted into shopping centres (or malls) where retail space can be rented or purchased. Property prices have appreciated by an estimated 15% in the last five years; property is in high demand.
In a nutshell… Amidst the urban sprawl that dominates this part of Rawalpindi, the serene Parsi temple is reminiscent of the old-world charm that once characterised the city.
– Afreen Hussain
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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 16, 2014.