Projecting Mughal era Sethi House through digital media imperative to bolster archaeological tourism

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PESHAWAR
Known as architecture wonder with rare wood craftsmanship, Sethi House is a unique building of Peshawar needs proper projection on digital media to attract foreign tourists and architectural lovers.
Constructed by Sethi family in 1886, Sethi House is a historical building of the British era carrying a unique architectural value and eye-catching wood designs is an amalgamation of Muslims and Vernacular Uzbakistan’s architecture could attract foreign tourists in droves if properly showcased on digital media through short videos and pictures to gain maximum capital.
Located in a small alleyway Sethi Mohallah near a historic Ghanta Ghar Peshawar, Sethi House is about 10 minutes drive from the bustling Qissa Khawani bazaar.
“Inspired by Muslims and vernacular architecture of Bokhara Uzbakistan, the Sethi family associated with international trade had constructed the masterpiece after migrating from Jehlum Punjab to Peshawar in early 19th century at Mohallah Sethian where about seven havelis were built in almost the same style, signifying an affluent Sethis estheticism passion,” said Bakhtzada Muhammad, senior research officer of Archaeology Department KP while talking to APP.
Associated with wood and furniture business with their trade expanded up to Central Asia, Sethi family had brought new innovation in architecture of houses, mansions and buildings as evident in the Sethi House, showing their unmatched architectural intellect and immense love for Muslims architecture.
“The fate took a negative turn on Sethis in start of 20th century when they received severe economic jolts due to Bolshevik Revolution, resulting their businesses has been adversely affected after adaptation of a new currency by Soviet Union. Subsequently, they sold their houses for revival of their business and strengthening of economy,” he said.
Built by Sethi Karim Bakhsh, Sethi House is spread on 33 marlas having three portions including basement, courtyard and first floor. Its construction was started in 1835, and finally completed after 49 years in 1886.
“It is my second visit to Sethi House. I was very pleased to see rehabilitation and repair works of the architectural masterpiece of Peshawar,” said Manzoorul Haq, former Ambassador while talking to APP.
“I had visited many countries but could not seen such an impressive building with red and greens’ window glasses and ventilators structure anywhere in world, “ he said.
“The mehrabs’ inside its rooms are filled with small pieces of glass shelves intended to place candles at night, shining just like stars in sky, has impressed me a lot,” he said.
The ceiling is designed with pure Islamic architecture and the visitors could look at ceiling for hours at a stretch, which enhances its elegance.
“Buildings like Sethi House are built in centuries. It is the identity of Peshawar and its projection was required to attract foreign tourists,” he said.
The visitors’ soon after entering Mohallah Sethian see its main wooden gate constructed on around five-feet height, leading him to a vast open courtyard with a water fountain in middle, which reminds them of its glorious days when this stunning architectural masterpiece welcomed scores of people through its doors.
Four spacious rooms in surrounding of its courtyard are connected through passageways attracted visitors’ attention. The windows of the rooms face the courtyard, each from the same angle, having a colorful glasswork looking great aesthetic beauty.
The visitors could not remain unimpressed while seeing red and greens in window glasses, which are reminiscent of post-renaissance art in European churches. The glass cut-pieces were imported especially from Belgium to concoct mélange of architecture.
Bakhtzada said the intricate web of floral designs on its doors, windows and arches stands as a testament to the artistry of the era’s artisans. These embellishments add to accolades one has for the workers, who put unsurpassed effort into intricacies of the unique design, making Sethi House architectural wonder.
Upon entering its first floor and balconies, a visitor came across with cold breeze and see birds eyes view of the surrounding areas of Peshawar being the home of over 3,000 years old civilization.
Its basement has spacious living rooms for accommodation of visitors and holes in wooden ventilators are angled at a unique angle, ensuring an ample lighting throughout the day.
“Sethi house is a model for modern-day green architecture because of its perfectly built ventilating structures and unique architectural airy designs”, said Shahryar Khan, Chief Architect at Communication and Works Department while talking to APP.
Despite passage of over one century of its construction, he said its architecture was intact reflecting its durability and quality design.
Bakhtzada said Sethi House was purchased by the KP Government in 2006 and later was converted into museum by Archeology and Museums Department in 2010 after renovation, attracting tourists and architecture lovers.
Sethi House’s conservation was achieved under the Cultural Heritage Trail Project (CHTP) Peshawar. Under the CHTIP, about 500 meters long trail from ancient Ghanta Ghar to Gor Gathri had been renovated including centuries-old buildings and houses to restore original grandeur of Peshawar being the oldest city of South Asia.
The trail starts from historical Ghanta Ghar and passes through ancient Bazaar-e-Kalaan and primordial Mohallah Sethian famous for scores of beautifully designed architectural houses constructed by Sethi Family in 1880s.
He said the trail had significantly improved the outer appearances of about 85 heritage buildings of Mughal, British and Sikh era.