Fane Road or Sharks Lane

by - June 04, 2015

After a hiatus of two years, I am back ready to write !
It's been a while since I have been back home but the last time I was there, I chose to stick to one city- Lahore. This time around though, I decided to pay more heed to the forgotten parts of Lahore, the ordinary roads and streets that are now mere shadows of the past.

So - I will talk about Old Lahore that no body cares about starting with Fane Road, the road where my home was and is. Since we just shifted out of Fane Road, it seems reasonable to write about it.

After partition, when streets were being renamed, Fane Road was renamed to Justice Kyani Road, presumably after a particular lawyer, Malik Muhammad Rustam Kayani. Most people still call it Fane Road, however (much like Temple Road or Egerton Road).

I hear from my father and uncle that during the partition era, Fane Road was the place for the liberal, left-wing activists. Of course, many of these activists were lawyers by training and found this the ideal location to engage in enlightened discussions, given the proximity to the High Court.

In the 1880's, it was called Thieves' Alley as a sarcastic reference to the number of lawyers there. According to Henry Goulding, the original Thieves Alley or Shark's Lane was Court Street. That street was inhabited by several members of the local bar including the late J.R.E. Gouldsbury, known among his friends and colleagues as Mr. Gold. When Mr. Gold moved to Fane Road, this road became known as the new "Sharks' Lane" or "Thieves' Alley", particularly after the transfer of the Chief Court to the building on the Mall, today the High Court.

Fane Road was once the site of the Goethe Institute as well as the French Cultural Center. It was the residence of Bakhshi Tek Chand and Khushwant Singh. Tek Chand was a High Court lawyer, who was instrumental in reviewing the patent law in India. Khushwant Singh was a prominent journalist and writer just recently passed away.

My own house on Fane Road was where my grandfather moved to after independence. It was bought from Amolak Singh Kapoor who was a lawyer as well and a friend of my grandfathers. Our families have reconnected after 50 years and remain to be good friends.

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