Walled City lahore Authority

Shahdara Complex

Shahdara occupies an important location on the right bank of the river Ravi, opposite to the city of Lahore. It was formerly the main entry point to Lahore from Kabul and Kashmir. Queen Noor Jahan found this area as an ideal location for laying a splendid garden known as Bagh-e-Dilkhusha. Shahdara once a site for pleasure gardens, transformed into a royal funerary landscape during 1527-1645 A.D., bringing a complete change to the land use and its character. The royal tombs of Mughal emperor Jahangir (1627 A.D.), his brother-in-law Asif Khan (1641 A.D.), and his wife Noor Jahan (1645 A.D.) were constructed in this area. The tomb complex at Shahdara exhibits a unique character as far as spatial morphology is concerned. The tomb buildings address to each other, sharing a common landscape representing an era in continuity, which is quite similar to the Valley of Kings in Egypt.

Tomb of Jahangir

The Fourth Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Muhammad Salim (Jahangir) died at Rajouri in 1627 CE, on the way to Kashmir where he had gone to rejuvenate his health. Emperor Jahangir buried in his wife Noor Jahan’s old pleasure garden called Dilkusha Bagh, as the area had been a favorite spot of him while he resided in Lahore. The Tomb was Built and completed by Shah Jahan at the cost of 1 million in 1637 CE. The tomb is single-storey square building and is set in a luxuriant square garden of “Chaharbagh” style. Each corner of the building is surmounted by an octagonal minaret which is structurally attached to the main building. The most striking feature of the building is its arcaded verandah of the inner sanctuary, which runs in front of the series of rooms and four vaulted bays lead to the central burial chamber. The burial chamber contains the marble tomb stone of the Emperor marking the grave underneath. The sarcophagus and the platform are convolutedly inlaid with semi-precious and precious stones depicting floral pattern and ninety- nine attributes of Allah. The bay leading to the grave is profusely ornamented with fresco paintings on the ceiling and side walls at dado level, bedecked with tile mosaic work. Designs finished with cut pieces of various stones such as Snag-e-Badal, Sang-e Abri, and black and white marble on the floor making the overall aesthetic impact more enchanting. Hardly any part is left unembellished. The monument has suffered a lot at the hands of the Sikh rulers, who stripped off most of the ornamentation and marble railing of the roof to décor Golden Temple at Amritsar. The monument was also used as a residence by General Amise (a French officer of the Sikh Army) and Sultan Muhammad Khan, who also damaged its ornamentation by making fire places in the hall of the mausoleum. During the British period, it was used as coal depot, which further contributed to its decay The mausoleum of Jahangir holds a special place among the architectural relics of Pakistan as it is the only remaining Mughal tomb in the country. Its image appears on the National Currency and it remains Lahore’s most popular attraction.

Tomb of Noor Jahan

Noor Jahan (31 May 1577 – 17 December 1645) born as Mehr-un-Nissa, was Empress of the Mughal Empire as the chief consort and favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir. A strong, charismatic, and well-educated woman, she is considered to be one of the most powerful and influential women of the 17th-century Mughal Empire. She died in 1645 and was buried in the tomb she built for herself during her lifetime. The tomb was completed in a period of four years for Rs. 0.3 million of the time. The tomb structure is a square, measuring 40.84 meters aside and 5.89 meters in height. The Tomb of Noor Jahan is a red sandstone structure. The vaulted ceilings were covered with marble and wrought with flower mosaics in semi-precious stones (Plundered by Sikhs). Minute panelling was executed in intricate patterns and cornices were honeycomb-shaped in several rooms. The inner floor is covered with marble and the outer platform with sandstone. The exterior, encased in red sandstone, was inlaid with floral motifs in addition to white, black, and yellow marble. The central vaulted chamber of the tomb contains a marble platform with two cenotaphs, one that commemorates Noor Jahan and the other to commemorate her daughter, Ladli Begum. Hakim Ajmal Khan of Dehli had arranged the laying of a marble floor in the central chamber in 1912. The empress Noor Jahan, ‘Light of the World’, was the only empress whose name appeared on the coins of the Mughal empire.

Tomb of Asif Khan

Mirza Abu al Hasan Jah, titled Asif Khan was the brother of Noor Jahan, foremost of Emperor Jahangir’s twenty wives and father of Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Emperor Shah Jahan. In 1636, he was elevated as Khan-e-Khana and commander-in-chief and a year later became the governor of Lahore. Asif Khan died on 12 June 1641 in a battle against the forces of rebel Raja Jagat Singh. His tomb was built in the Shahdara Bagh complex in four years by Shah Jahan. The tomb is an octagonal structure with a high bulbous dome, stands on an eight-sided podium originally of red sand stone amid a spacious walled garden approached through a gate in the south. The tomb was also plundered by the Sikhs in the 19th century for its marble and sandstone. The Akbari Sarai, along with the Tombs of Jahangir and Asif Khan, were inscribed on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993.

Akbari Sarai

The Akbari Sarai is a large caravan inn (Sarai). The sarai was originally built for travellers and later on for caretakers of the Tomb of Jahangir. Abdul Hamid Lahori, the court historian to Emperor Shah Jahan, mentioned the building by the name Jilu Khana-e-Rauza, which means “attached court of the tomb”, in his book “the Padshahnama” Despite the name of the structure, Akbari Sarai was begun during the reign of Islam Shah Suri in the mid-1550s, and not during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar while the cells which line the complex and its gateways, date from the Shah Jahan period in the mid-1600s. The Sarai served as both a station for wayfarers, and also a mail station known as a dāk chowkī. The Sarai was administered by an official known as a Shāhnā with several assistant caretakers. Fodder for animals, hot and cold water, and bedsteads were provided free of charge. The Sarai also had a physician, as well as a resident baker, and a water well located outside of the walls of the Sarai. The Sarai is in the form of an oblong quadrangle, which covers a total area of 12 acres. The courtyard of the Sarai complex is flanked on all sides by a raised terrace where rows of 180 cells known as khanaha are located with a veranda and a common open passage. The corners of the Sarai are flanked by towers. Tower chambers are the most elaborate of all the Sarai’s cells, and feature an elliptical hall in front with a veranda, with an octagonal room in the back.

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