The modern-day Lahore Fort is located in the north-western corner of the historical city of Lahore. Locally known as Shahi Qila, the royal fort is an architectural masterpiece bearing a rich history. Its irregular design covering an area of almost 20 hectares, measuring about 427 meters east-west and 335 meters north-south, excluding the outer fortification wall erected during the Sikh rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799 – 1839 A.D).
The site where the existing Lahore Fort (Shahi Qila) is erected has been established for several centuries. The mud-brick fort of the 11th century, for instance, was the first structure ever recorded during the rule of Mahmud of Ghazni. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the fort was damaged, demolished and rebuilt several times by numerous invaders and rulers before it came under the domain of Mughal emperors.
Historically, in 1241 Mongols destroyed the fort and Sultan Balban of the Delhi Sultanate constructed a new fort in 1267. In 1398, the invading forces of Timur destroyed the fort and it was rebuilt by Mubarak Shah Sayyid in 1421. Similarly, the fort was occupied by Shaikh Ali of Kabul in the 1430s and it remained under the control of the Pashtun Sultans of the Lodi dynasty. Lahore was later captured by the Mughal Emperor Babur in 1524 after the defeat of Ibrahim Lodi’s forces. It remained under Mughal Empire until their fall and was then captured by the Sikh followed by the British.
The foundation of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1556–1605) when he made Lahore his capital. Akbar carried out modifications to the fort with architectural style featuring Hindu motifs. After Akbar, it was continuously damaged, renovated, improved, and expanded by successive emperors. Shah Jahan, for instance, changed the model by using luxurious marble with inlaid Persian floral design. The fort was entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the peak of its prestige and prosperity.
The Lahore Fort is located very close to the Badshahi Mosque, only separated by Hazur Bagh. The Fort has two distinct sections: the northern half of the fort comprises of the private or residential section and the areas for royal audiences make up the administrative section. The Lahore Fort comprises several notable monuments each having a distinct name and history. Prominent buildings and structures of the fort are:
Akbari Gate or the Masti Gate
The Akbari Gate was built by Emperor Akbar in about 1566 A.D. and later on, it was called the Masti Gate. Actually, the Empress of Akbar built a mosque outside this gate in 1614 A.D that still exists in good condition. The word” Masjid” (Mosque) in local version was corruptly pronounced Maseet and transformed as Masti; thus the name Masti Gate affixed. The fort during Akbar’s times had two gates including Masti Gate. The other gate was later replaced by Alamgiri Gate in 1673 A.D.
The iconic Alamgiri Gate, located on its western side, opens in the Hazuri Bagh and facing the renowned Badshahi Mosque, was the masterpiece built by the last of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb (ruled: 1658 – 1707 A.D) in 1673-74 as a private entrance to the royal quarters enabling the elephants carrying members of the royal household enter at one time. It has two semi-circular bastions decorated with lotus petal designs at the base.
Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience)
Diwan-i-Aam is a forty pillar complex built under the supervision of Asif Khan (brother of Nur Jahan, the empress of Shah Jahan’s father, Jahangir) during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631 to receive official visitors, make a daily public appearance to address the issues, and review parades. It was demolished when Ranjit Singh’s son Sher Singh bombarded Lahore Fort by light guns during a fight against Chand Kaur, the widow of Kharak Singh (the elder son of Ranjit Singh). After the occupation of the fort in 1849 A.D The British rebuilt Diwan-i-Aam.
The northeast corner of the fort is made up of Jahangir’s Quadrangles. The construction of the Quadrangles started in during the tenure of Akbar in 1617-18 while it was completed by Jahangir in 1620 at a cost of seven lacs (Seven Hundred Thousand) of rupees. The design of the Quadrangles reflects Akbar’s influence as it employs column brackets carved in the form of animals. Moreover, the quadrangle’s layout differs from the mainstream Mughal quadrangles and its features reflect Hindu temple architecture referring the Akbar’s policy of tolerance. Usually the Mughal quadrangles used the layout of a Persian paradise garden, and instead, it is formed by concentric rectangles with a fountain in its center.
Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience)
Diwan-i-Khas is a hall commissioned by Shah Jahan where state guests were received and discussed matters related to the state. It is an arched pavilion built in semi-chaste marble and its parapet was decorated with pietra dura work (by inlaying semi-precious stones into white marble).
Khwabgah-e-Jahangir (Jahangir’s sleeping chamber)
The north end of the quadrangle is dominated by the Barri Khwabgah, or ‘large bedroom’, is Jahangir’s sleeping chamber attributed to Jahangir’s period and is located in the residential section. The current building is the reconstruction version from the British era. It is now used as a museum housing Mughal antiquities.
Khwabgah-e- Shah Jahan
It was the sleeping chamber and the first building built by Shah Jahan under the supervision of Wazir Khan in 1634 during his first visit to the city. The Khwabgah comprises five sleeping chambers aligned in a single row. The carved marble screens inside the chambers are decorated with inlaid white marble and frescoes. The incised work known as Ghalib Kari in Urdu and stucco tracery on the arches of this monument are the main features of this building. Its original decorations have gone astray presently except for a trace of the marble.
Maktab Khana (Clerks’ Quarters)
Originally known as Dawlat Khana-e-Jahangir, the Maktab Khana was constructed in 1617 during the reign of Jahangir (1605 – 1627 A.D) under the supervision of Mamur Khan. There the carved Persian inscription on marble slab relates to the construction. It was designed by Khawaja Jahan Muhammad Dost and used as a passage to the Audience Hall from the palace buildings to the north. It was also used by the clerks to record the entry of guests into the fort.
Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque)
It is one of the two mosques built between1630-35 by Emperor Shah Jahan; the other one is in Agra Fort and was built in 1654. The mosque has three superimposed domes, two aisles of five bays, and a slightly raised rectangular-framed central portal. The distinct five-arched front distinguishes it from other mosques of the similar class usually with three-arched facades. The interior is simple and plain, however, the ceilings are adorned and designed in four different orders, two arcuate, and two trabeated.
The white marble structure is a small building, a prominent addition, located on the western side of the Lahore fort closer to Alamgiri gate, the main entrance. After the fall of the Mughal Empire, it was used as Sikh Temple and renamed as Moti Mandir (Pearl Temple) under the rule of Ranjit Singh. Later it was used as state treasury by the Sikh. When the British took over Punjab in 1849, some precious stones and other inventories were collected inside the Mosque. It was revived to its former state later.
Lal Burj (“Red Pavilion”)
The Octagonal shape Lal Burj (watch tower) is a three-storied summer pavilion building lies adjacent to Diwan-e-Khas and stands in the corner of Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle, in the northeast corner of the Khilawat Khana (Place of Isolation). The top storey including most of the interior frescoes is the Sikh era addition while the lower two stories together with the basement chambers are the beautiful work of Emperor Jahangir while finished during the reign of Shah Jahan. The exterior is beautifully furnished with tile mosaic and filigree work. Its primary windows opened to the north are meant to catch cool breezes.
Kala Burj (“Black Pavilion”)
The Kala Burj stands in the northwest corner of Khilwat Khana and was also used as a summer pavilion. It is the most significant of the Jahangir-era additions and is similar to Lal Burj in many respects. It occupies north-west corner of Khilwat Khana. The top storey belongs to the British period and used as a bar. The Chhajja (eave) of the Kala Burj is built with interlocked brickwork. The arched ceilings in the pavilion feature paintings in a European-influenced style of angels which symbolize the virtuosity of King Solomon – a ruler with whom Jahangir identified.
Shahi Hammam (Royal Bath)
The Shahi Hammam, also known as Wazir Khan Hammam, was built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan in about 1635 A.D. and lies adjacent to Shah Jahan’s Khwabgah. It is patterned on Turkish style, so it comprises Jama Khana (dressing and undressing room). The baths were built to serve as a waqf, or endowment, for the maintenance of the Wazir Khan MosqueThe bath, also had the facility of warm and hot water. No longer used as a hammam, the baths were restored between 2013 and 2015 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Walled City of Lahore Authority and restored in 2016 to its “former prominence.
Seh Dari (three-door) Pavilion
She Dari is located on the eastern side of the Barri Khwabgah inside Jahangir’s Quadrangle. The Sikh period architectural style pavilion is called Sah Dari (of three doors in the Persian language) because it has three entrance doors. The building is said to have served as an office of Faqir Syed Noor-Ud-din, the trusted Governor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is decorated with fresco portray floral designs of birds and scenes shown reflect Hindu religious themes suggesting obviously belong to the Sikh period.
Sheesh Mahal (the Palace of Mirrors or the Crystal Palace)
Sheesh Mahal is the intricately worked white marble pavilion inlaid with pietra dura and complex mirror-work of the finest quality and is considered as a jewel in the crown. It was built by Asif Khan, brother of Noor Jahan, under the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32. It is located within Jahangir’s Shah Burj block in the northern-western corner of the Lahore Fort and was built for personal use by the imperial family and close aides. The extensive use of marble reflects the typical Shah Jahan style of construction. The palace has a complex mirror work, called Ayina Kari, in order to conceal from meddling eyes. The palace used to be the favorite place of Ranjit Singh during Sikh occupation of the Fort. Its walls were rebuilt in the Sikh period.
Summer Palace (Pari Mahal or Fairy Palace)
The summer palace or Pari Mahal is a jumble of chambers located directly underneath Sheesh Mahal and Shah Burj Quadrangle dating back to Shah Jahan period. The palaces were only accessible from Sheesh Mahal and used as a residence during hot weather months. The fairy palace was constructed skillfully using the flow of natural air and perfumed water to create a cool temperature with the aroma. The palace was even used during the Ranjit Singh’s reign and it was the store of British Civil Defence Department during World War II before it was transferred to Pakistan. Its integrity was affected by its use as a storehouse. It will now be restored to show how it looked as summer palace once.
Constructed in 1633 during Shah Jahan’s period at a cost of 900,000 (as the name suggests), the Naulakha Pavilion is an iconic building of the Lahore Fort. It is located on the west side of Sheesh Mahal, made of prominent white marble and covered by a distinctive curvilinear roof, having inside lavishly decorated with tiny jewels as Agate, Jade, Lapis-Lazuli, and Goldstone etc in intricate floral motifs. The Naulakha Pavilion served as a personal chamber reflecting a mixture of contemporary tradition at the time of its construction.
Paien Bagh (Ladies Garden)
Paved paths for walkways were the main feature of the Mughal Gardens. The Paien Bagh was built for royal ladies to sustain their health. These paths were surrounded by green patches and filled with cypresses and dwarf plants emanating delighted fragrance. In addition, the garden was adorned with a water basin in the middle of the spacious platform built in brickwork.
Hathi Paer (Elephant Stairs or path)
The Hathi Paer was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631-32 A.D especially meant for elephants carrying the royalty from and to the palace. The 58 low and broad steps each measuring 216 inches in length and 18’-8” inches in width starts from Hathi Paer gate and ends on the outer courtyard of Shish Mahal.
Ath Dara ( having eight openings)
Located at an elevated podium at the original entrance of Shish Mahal, the Ath Dara was built, and used as Kachehri (court), by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who ruled over Punjab. The gilt frescos paintings on its northern wall were made by Maharaja Ranjit’s court artists and its ceiling is decorated with beautiful woodwork. The Department of Punjab Archaeology has magnificently renovated the woodwork with beautiful mirror work recently.
Kharak Singh Haveli
The Haveli of Kharak Singh, the heir to Ranjit Singh, lies in the south-east of the Jahangir’s Quadrangle. When it was occupied by the British, the first and the ground floor were used as a Commandant’s Quarters and servants’ house respectively. It is used as the archaeological survey office currently.
The greatest artistic triumph, the monumental “pictured wall” in Lahore Fort was commenced by Emperor Jahangir in 1624-25 A.D and may have been completed under the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 A.D. It is exquisitely decorated with a vibrant array of glazed tiles, faience mosaics, and frescoes stretch over much of the northern and western walls of the fort. The 116 embellished panels altogether measuring approximately 1450 feet by 50 feet is the most representative relic of Mughal period depicting an array of geometrical and floral patterns including elephant fight, angels, hunting, dancing, mythological scenes, and polo game. This art is known in Persian as Kashi Kari because it originated from Kashan the city of Persia (Iran). These pictures do not seem to have a strong cohesion to explain a single story.
Khilawat Khana (Palace of isolation)
Khilawat Khana, the residence of the royal ladies of the court, was built by Shah Jahan in 1633. It is located to the east of the Shah Burj Pavilion, and west of the Shah Jahan Quadrangle. It is a building with a curvilinear roof made mostly with marble.
Lahore Fort Museums
There are three distinct museums in the Lahore Fort – the Armory Gallery, the Sikh Gallery, and the Mughal Gallery.
The Armory Museum
The Armory Museum is located in Dalan-e-Sang-e-Surkh of Moti Masjid and showcases various arms captured by British during Sikh battles. These arms include pistols, helmets, guns, swords, daggers, spears and arrows
The Mughal Gallery is located in Jahangir’s Quadrangle and houses historic manuscripts, coins, calligraphy, miniature paintings and an ivory miniature model of India’s Taj Mahal.
The fall of Mughal Empire leads the control of fort to Sikh suzerainty before it was passed to British colonialists. The British took over Punjab following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in 1849. Located in the Haveli of Rani Jindan, the Sikh Gallery houses the Princess Bamba (the granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjit Singh) collection belonging to Ranjit Singh. This gallery carries a rare collection of oil paintings including some beautiful paintings by European artists.
The entrance and the office for the entry ticket to the fort for the general public are through Hathi Gate.
- The fort is open to public seven days a week as per the following timings.
1st April to 30th September: from 7:30 hrs to half an hour before sunset.
1st October to 31st March: from 8:30 hrs to half an hour before sunset.
Museum and Galleries timings
8:30 to 12:30 hrs and from 14:30 to 17:30 Hrs
9:00 to 16:00 Hrs
Toilets for the visitors are located in front of the Diwan-e-Aam area.
The cultural capital has in its heart is one square kilometer densely populated walled city once accessible by 13 gates. The Walled City of Lahore is also known as the Old City of Lahore and was established around 1000 CE. Most of the monuments housed in the city belong to the Mughal era, notably the lavishly decorated Wazir Khan Mosque, the massive Badshahi Mosque, and the Shahi Hammam.
Gates of Walled City of Lahore
The Walled City of Lahore was covered by a 9-meter high brick wall and accessible by 13 gates, made of wood and iron, with their unique names. These gates were constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1584-98).
- The Raushnai Gate, or the Gate of Lights, is located between the royal mosque and the citadels.
- The Kashmiri Gate is so called because of its direction towards Kashmir.
- The Masti Gate, actually the Masjidi Gate referring to a mosque
- The Khizri or the Shranwala Gate named after Khizr Elias, the patron saint.
- The Yakki Gate, originally the Zaki Gate, a name derived from the name of a martyred saint while defending the city
- The Delhi Gate is so called because of its opening on to the highway to Delhi.
- The Akbari Gate was named after the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar who rebuilt the town and fort.
- The Mochi Gate was actually called Moti Gate to refer to Pearl named after Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar who resided here at that time.
- The Shah Almi Gate was named after the son and successor of Aurangzeb, Mohomed Mo’azzam Shah Alam Bahadur Shah and died on the 28th February 1712 in Lahore.
- The Lahori Gate, also known as Lohari Gate, has been named after the city of Lahore.
- The Mori Gate was the smallest of all and used as an outlet for the refused and sweepings of the city.
- The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe lived in these quarters.
- The Taxali Gate, named after the Taxal or Royal Mint
During the reign of Ranjit Singh (1799 to 1849), the damaged walls were rebuilt in 1812. All of these marvellous gates continued to exist until the 19th century. Some damaged gates were rebuilt using simple structures, except for Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate. Currently, only 6 of these gates exist those includeRoshnae, Delhi, Shairanwala, Bhati, Kashmiri and Lahori.
Below is the detail of the hidden architectural treasure inside the Walled City Of Lahore
Badshahi Mosque Lahore
The crown jewel of Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque, was a symbol of power in the Mughal Empire. It has been the largest mosque in the world for 313 years (1673 to 1986). The grand mosque was used more like a military base by the armies of Ranjit Singh and the British troops than as a religious structure. It is now the second largest in Pakistan and South Asia and 5th largest in the world with a capacity for more than 150,000 worshippers on its grounds.
Lahore FortThe Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundations of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the subsequent Mughal Emperors. However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of Mughal Empire and later passed on to British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need. The fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
Fort Road Food Street
The Fort Road Food Street is a prominent yet mystifying street clustered with a great variety of food outlets where food enthusiasts of all colours and creeds gather for a taste of their choice, mostly made inside multi-story heritage buildings and served either along the street or on rooftops. These rooftops are surrounded by significant landmarks provide magnificent views of the buildings clustered surrounding the old city. Food Street is also the best place to enjoy the dramatic sunset. It is also a prominent tourist attraction located between Fort Road and Roshni Gate of the Walled City of Lahore. Historically the street was once taboo being a part of the renowned red light area of Lahore.
Wazir Khan MosqueThe Mughal architecture in the subcontinent has been archetypal and has had no matching landmarks to date. The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore is such a unique and vivid illustration of Mughal architecture. It is also a testimony of their affinity to finesse, frescos and dexterity. It has been described as “a mole on the cheek of Lahore”.
The Golden Mosque, locally known as the “Sunehri Masjid” or the Talai Mosque is a late Mughal architecture-era mosque in the Kashmiri Bazar of the famous Walled City (Old City) of Lahore. The mosque was built in 1753 Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan, son of Raushan-ud-Daula Turrabaz Khan, deputy governor of Lahore during the reign of Muhammad Shah. It was the time when the Mughal Empire was in decline. The mosque was built on an 11-foot high plinth in a congested street accessible by 16 stairs opening to a small courtyard measuring 65 x 43 feet that further leads to the prayer chamber measuring 40 x 16 feet. The architectural design of the mosque reflects the Sikh architecture influence from nearby Amritsar, particularly its three golden gilding domes surrounded by four minarets in its four corners. The mosque was seized and converted into a gurdwara by Sikh authorities during the Sikh rule but it was owned back when Fakir Azizuddin persuaded Ranjit Singh and was renovated in the 1820s. It was again renovated in 2011 by the government of Punjab under Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation of the USA.
Tomb of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Iqbal TombThe poet-philosopher Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot and died on April 21, 1938, in Lahore. He was the major inspiration behind Pakistan movement – the man who envisaged a separate homeland of the Muslims of the subcontinent where they could practice the religion peacefully. He was laid to rest in the Hazuri Bagh lawn, adjacent to Baradari, in the walled city where Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque face each other. His mausoleum was entirely constructed of red sandstone from Rajasthan while the tombstone marble was gifted by the Afghan government. A guard is maintained on the tomb forever.
Hazuri Bagh and Baradari
Hazuri Bagh and BaradariHazuri Bagh, a low basin garden, between the main gateways of the Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort, was created by Ranjit Singh. In the year 1818, Ranjit Singh ordered that in the middle of the Fort and the Mosque, a garden be constructed. Likewise, on the suggestions of Jamadar Khush Hal Singh, a marble seat (pavilion) for royals was constructed and decorated measuring 14 m square white marble and called Baradari (twelve arch pavilion). The marble was plucked out from the tomb of Zaib u Nisa (Nawan Kot), Tomb of Shah Sharaf (Bhati Gate), Tomb of Nur Jahan, Tomb Asif Jah and Tomb of Jahangir. It took only two years to complete the project. Ranjit Singh held court in Huzoori Bagh and dealt with the affairs of his kingdom.
Fakir Khana Museum
Located inside the Bhati Gate, within the Walled city of Lahore, the Fakir Khana Museum is the largest privately owned museum in South Asia containing over 20,000 objects. Most of these objects were amassed as direct of hand-me-down gifts largely as a result of their ties with Ranjit Singh. These objects include artefacts from 18th to 20th centuries and a unique collection from the Gandharan art. Moreover, the collections at the museum also include 10,000 manuscripts, 180 displayed miniature paintings, Sikh era textiles, pottery, statuary, and carved ivory pieces besides the gifts given by Ranjit Singh to the Fakir family. The museum also has a unique painting of Nawab Mumtaz Ali completed in 15 years done with a single hair. This museum has been open to the public since 1901.
The Mubarak Haveli inside Mochi Gate of the Walled City is a piece of architecture with a fascinating history. It was actually built by the three sons (Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali, and Mir Bahar Ali) of a famous Hakeem during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The birth of a son to Bahadur Ali’s wife was seen as a good omen and the Haveli was named as Mubarak Haveli. Mubarak Haveli has been a temporary residence of the Afghan King Shah Shuja Durrani during his exile in Lahore in 1813/1814 where he surrendered the Kohinoor diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in exchange for his freedom. The diamond is now in the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. The Haveli is currently owned by the Qazalbash family and was granted to the family for their services to the British.
The marvelous Naunihal Singh Haveli was the private residence of the Sikh ruler Naunihal Singh, the Son of Kharrak Singh and the grandson of Ranjeet Singh. Dating from the Sikh era, between 1930 and 1940, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Sikh architecture. The Haveli is a 4 story building comprises of 40 rooms and has been turned into Govt. Victoria Girls High School in 1860 during the British era. The building is located near the Bhati Gate and Lahori Gate.
Gurdwara Dera Sahib
Gurdwara Dera Sahib, the place where Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th guru of Sikhism, died in 1606. Its construction was initiated by Kharak Singh while completed by Duleep Singh in 1884. Its construction design is a blend of Sikh, Hindu, and Islamic architecture.
Samadhi of Ranjit SinghThe 19th-century shrine that houses the funerary urns of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh who ruled from 1780 to 1839. The Samadhi is located adjacent to Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort and Gurdwara Dera Sahib. While standing close to the eastern wall of Aurangzeb’s architectural marvel, a gleaming golden Minar (tower) atop a white dome – the Minar of the Samadhi (mausoleum) of the infamous “Sher-e-Punjab,” Ranjit Singh can be noticed.
Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das
Guru Ram Das was the 4th Sikh Guru and was born in the Chuna Mandi Bazaar of Lahore in 1534 CE and his Gurdwara is also located in the same place inside the Walled City. The Gurdwara was built on the top of the site once believed to be the site of his birthplace. The shrine was built several steps above street-level using white marble platform. The area of the Janam Asthan measures 122 feet 6 inches by 97 feet 6 inches.
The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden are two exceptional royal complexes from the Mughal era. Both monuments are in Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan, and boasting of their pride and prestige to date. The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1981 for their “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
The fort is located at the northwest corner of the walled city of Lahore while the Shalimar Gardens are situated along the Grand Trunk Road some 5 kilometres northeast of the main Lahore city. The monuments are located at a distance 7 kilometres from each other.
Dating back to 1the 7th century, both masterpieces reflect the true artistic expression of the Mughals at its peak. The fort is the only monument that represents the complete history of Mughal architecture in Pakistan. The Shalimar garden, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1642, still retain the glorious Persian and Islamic tradition is a fine example of Mughal gardens.
Irregular in design, the Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a worldly famous citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares. The fort is located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as to the era of Emperor Akbar.
The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundations of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar.
The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the succeeding Mughal Emperors. However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of Mughal Empire and later passed on to British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need.
The Shalimar Gardens in Lahore is an exceptional Mughal garden complex. The garden has a unique collage of natural and architectural beauty. It was constructed during the artistic and aesthetic zenith of the Mughal rule. The construction of the Shalimar Gardens began on 12 June 1641 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed after 18 months at the end of 1942. Its construction was influenced by regions like Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Dehli Sultanate and reflects the affinity of Shah Jahan for nature and architecture.
The 16 hectares (658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west) rectangle garden by crenellated walls of red sandstone is arranged in three terraces descending from south to north with each terrace given a special name. The upper-level terrace, for instance, was named “Farah Baksh” meaning Bestower of Pleasure, the middle-level terrace was named “Faiz Baksh” meaning Bestower of Goodness, and the lower level terrace was named Hayat Baksh meaning Bestower of Life.
There are a total of 410 fountains rising from the canal and from the basin water discharges into the marble pools. The water circulation system was so technically engineered that even scientists today still find it hard to understand thermal engineering. The architecture of thermal engineering was aimed to create cooler air through fountain water during beating down summers to relief visitors. Out of 410, there are 105 fountains in the upper-level terrace, 152 in the middle-level terrace and 153 in the lower level terrace.
The gardens were built primarily to entertain the royal guests, yet the general public could enter a specific section of the garden. It is located close to Baghbanpura on the GT road 5km northeast of the city centre. The site of the garden belonged to the Arian Mian Family and Shah Jahan rewarded them with the Mian title for its services and contribution to the Mughal Empire.