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The Golra Mosque is located within the compound of Golra Sharif

The Golra Mosque is located within the compound of Golra Sharif

A century ago, Golra was a small village on the outskirts of Rawalpindi. Well-known as an important railway junction and the birth place and last abode of the Sufi mystic, his shrine – called Golra Sharif – attracts thousands of devotees.

A junction in history… Located near the ancient Buddhist civilisation of Taxila, Golra is strewn with splendid archaeological examples of art and artifacts. Historians believe the area to have historical and cultural significance as several foreign armies – including the Greeks, Persians, Afghans, White Huns, Mughals, Sikhs and British – passed through it over the centuries, each leaving their influence and impact.The coal-powered Steam Safari arrives at the Golra Junction

At the platform… During the British Raj, Golra was considered important enough to warrant an architecturally elaborate, colonial style railway station that was built in 1882, having a stone platform. The Golra junction connected Peshawar, Kohat and Havelian via Taxila. Although railway travel has diminished over the years, the special Safari Train that departs from Golra to Rawalpindi is reminiscent of train journeys from the past.

Next stop, Railway Museum… In 2002, the station house was renovated and converted into the Railways Heritage Museum. The artifacts on display at the Museum include several authentic steam engines and railway bogies and cabins used by royalty. A major attraction is the elaborate railway car used by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, which was originally commissioned by the Maharaja of Jodhpur as part of his daughter’s dowry. Other items on display include navigation equipment, signal lamps, wall clocks, watches and pendulums, and crockery.

Around the neighbourhood… As the urban sprawl engulfed the little railway junction, today, Golra is located in the suburbs of Islamabad, in Sector E11. Primarily a residential area, recently apartment complexes have been built-up near the shrine and other housing projects are also under construction due to an increase in demand. Property prices have increased by approximately 10% in the last five years, with the prices characterised as midrange.Golra Sharif attracts devotees from all parts of Pakistan

Golra Sharif attracts devotees from all parts of Pakistan

In a nutshell… For residents, Golra is characterised by a slow-paced life within a close-knit community and colonial-style houses built during the British Raj – far removed from the modernity of urban Islamabad – while the quaint village comes to life at the annual urs celebrations at Golra Sharif.

– Arsalan Khan
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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 23, 2014.

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