Lahore has, amongst its many glorious attributes, been home to a galaxy of famous men of arts and letters from across the seas. Two amongst these were the illustrious Mr Lockwood Kipling, founder of the Mayo School of Arts, now known as the National College of Arts, and his even more celebrated Noble Laureate son, Rudyard Kipling. If any of my readers has not had the opportunity to read Kiplings best selling classic Kim, they must do so now as its opening chapters will take them spiralling into the exciting world of 19th century Lahore. Based on an intimate knowledge of life in the City of Gard-ens, for that was what it was then, the story of young Kim was set amidst real places in and around Lahore City. The opening lines of this great piece of literature found our hero sitting astride the old Zamzama Cannon opposite the House of Wonders or the Lahore Museum, located in what later became Tollington Market. The Zamzama, now popularly referred to as Kims Gun, was part of a pair cast by Shah Nazir in 1757 under orders from Shah Wali Khan, Prime Minister to the Abdali King Ahmed Shah Durrani, and was used in 1761 during the last battle of Panipat. It was later captured by Hari Singh Bhangi in 1762 in a battle with the Governor of Lahore and hence acquired the name Bhangion Ki Tope. Last used by the Sikhs against the British in the siege of Multan in 1848, the cannon was placed outside Delhi Gate. In 1860, this historic relic was moved to the garden of Wazir Khans Mosque, till it found a place at the exhibition and museum venue in 1870. In 1894, Zamzama was relocated to its present resting place a few hundred meters up the Mall. The House of Wonders or the old Lahore Museum was constructed as a temporary structure to accommodate a Crafts Exhibition and Museum in 1864 and John Lockwood Kipling was appointed as its first curator. It was in 1894 that the museum and its artefacts were shifted to a new building constructed by the famed philanthropist and engineer cum contractor Sir Ganga Ram and the old exhibition structure was converted into a meat, fruit and vegetable market known to Lahoris as Tollington Market. The narrow lanes running acr-oss Anarkali were Kims hunting grounds, where he held his own against other street wise urchins before embarking on his epic adventure with the Lama. It was here that the young lad often fled trouble, by hopping across rooftops. The Serai where the young adventurer met Mahbub Ali, the Horse Trader turned Secret Agent was, what is perhaps now known as Rattan Chand ki Serai. This ancient premises lying on the road that connects the Mayo Hospital Intersection with the Circular Road, was till early sixties a bus depot for travelling to other cities. It consisted of a vast rectangular courtyard framed by arched rooms that served as cheap hotels, eating places and offices of transport and goods carriage companies. I remember the place in the fifties as the Government Transport Service station wagon for Murree began its journey from here. For a young boy, who had actually slept with Kim under his pillow, this was an experience laced with fantasy. One entered the Serai through an old arched gate and into the courtyard surrounded by its old rooms that were to a large measure still intact. Buses, trucks and cars transformed into horses and camels; peoples dresses morphed into loose robes held together by leather belts adorned with swords and daggers and bare heads became burdened with heavy turbans as one was transported into the magical world of a ca-ravan serai. On what else could Kims great journey begin, but the great artery running across the subcontinent - the Grand Trunk Road. It was here that he first saw the young English police officer called Strickland, who was later to be the star of many a Kipling story. It was on this road too that he met the old lady who was to have such an unforgettable impact on his life. Kims Gun and Tollington Market still mercifully stand, but the Serai has been devoured by the demon of progress that is destroying other old landmarks of Lahore. Where will this orgy of destruction end? This is the big question that needs to be pondered over by the sons of this great city. The writer is a freelance columnist.AVAW__