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Mughal Rahguzar
Places to Visit >> Major Cities & Towns >> Lahore
G. T. Road/Baghbanpura Monuments

Most of the monuments in this group, including the famous Shalamar Gardens, are located on or close to G.T. (Grand Trunk) Road; except for the tomb of Bahadur Khan near Mughalpura and that of Nadira Begam near the mausoleum of Hazrat Mian Mir. The G.T. Road that you see is a much improved and beautified thoroughfare. However, cruising east along the double carriageway, it is with a touch of dismay that one finds the original sleepy environment, which showed the spectacular Mughal monuments to good effect, replaced with a spate of new buildings. An uncontrolled feverish building activity, in the wake of a new double carriageway, has dwarfed and undermined historic structures located here. You will need to be on a lookout for these rather mellowed structures in order not to miss them.

Buddhu (Buddu)ka Awa

On the south of G.T. Road, opposite the University of Engineering and Technology, is 'Buddhu (Buddu) ka Awa'. It is a square structure, which carries a lofty dome raised on a circular drum, lined with alternating blue and white ceramic tiles laid in a chevron pattern. Since the area around it is fenced in, you can not enter it, but being close to the main road its impressive structure can be viewed from the roadside.

Constructed with massive brick masonry, each side of this square building is punctured with a central peshtaq opening flanked by two slightly recessed arched panels. The zone of transition of the square chamber to the hemispherical roof is expressed above the chamber in an octagonal drum, on which a dome on a high neck is placed, resulting in a somewhat overpowering gunbud (dome).

Traditionally, the structure is attributed to Buddhu, a potter belonging to Shahjahan's reign. Buddhu's father Suddhu is said to have had a flourishing kiln trade during the reign of Jahangir, supplying bricks for all the important structures and palaces built by the imperial family and grandees of the court. However, the kiln was made unserviceable and its fire extinguished for ever, when a holy man named Abdul Haq, a disciple of Hazrat Mian Mir, was turned away on a wintry, rainy night from the warmth of the kiln fire.

Later researches point towards the structure being the tomb of the wife of Khan Dawran Bahadur Nusrat Jan, an amir or grandee of the Mughal court. Khan Dawran himself is also reputed to have been buried here on his death in 1643. As is the case of other similar structures, the tomb is likely to have been set amidst a large garden.

During the Sikh rule, the area was occupied by the summer house of General Avitabile, the French general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, although no evidence of this has survived. The sepulcher was a centre of activities during the inter-Sikh wars, when Maharaja Sher Singh and Raja Hira Singh in turn collected Khalsa (Sikh) troops here with the intention of laying siege to Lahore.

Gulabi Bagh Gateway

One of the most significant Mughal structures, carrying some of the most spectacular tile mosaic examples, is the Culabi Bagh Gateway. It is located on the northern side of G.T. Road, east of Buddhu ka Awa, and past Begumpura Road on the left. Although of considerable height (it is a two storey Gulabi Baghstructure), it can be missed easily since it does not carry a dome, or other terminating elements, As is evident from its name, this remarkable gateway was originally the entrance to a garden known as Gulabi Bagh or (the rose garden), no longer extant. The name however, is also a chronogram, from which the date of construction of the gateway AH 1066 (1655) is obtained.

Although the gateway has endured much damage to its decorative features, it is in a tolerably well-preserved state. It was constructed by or in memory of Mirza Sultan Beg, a Persian nobleman and cousin of Shahjahan's son-in-law Mirza Ghiyasuddin (married to princess Sultan Begam).

Due to his cousin's relationship with the royal family, Mirza Sultan Beg rose to the exalted position of Mirul Bahar (Admiral of the Fleet). He was obviously on extremely good terms with the emperor, who, aware of his love of hunting, presented him with a much-admired English rifle. Just two months later, the firearm proved fatal for him due to the bursting of a shell during a hunting expedition at Hiran Minar (at Jahangirabad or Shaikhupura about 40 miles from Lahore; for details see Chapter 13). He died in 1063/1657.

A lofty Timurid Iwan—a popular architectural rendering for gateways—rises to two-storey height, and incorporates a 40' long covered walkway defined by a single storey cusped arch gateway. The iwan is flanked on both sides with 5' deep arched alcoves expressive of the two storey of the structure. The covered walkway is lined on either sides with a 12'xl2' chamber, which no doubt provided accommodation to the guards, from where an internal staircase leads to the first floor.

The 50' wide facade, subdivided into slightly sunk panels presents one of the finest examples of kashi kari (tile mosaic). The panels are defined by brick borders, which, as was usual, would have been treated with taza kari or lines of red fresco. Profusely embellished with multi-hued, scintillating tile mosaic, based largely on floral themes including floral arabesque, it is considered one of the most important tile-mosaic examples of the Mughal period. The rendering of floral and geometric themes executed in finely cut tile mosaic, with an interesting combination of hues of blue, yellow, maroon and green, became a favorite medium of decoration during the Shahjahan Period, the most unusual renderings of which in the form of images will be seen when visiting the Lahore Fort, described in the Qila Rahguzars.

This mausoleum is one of many structures of the period where humble brick was given an exciting veneer of beautifully crafted tile mosaic, cut to the exact form of a petal or a leaf and then closely joined together, to present this unique artwork. Today, it is divorced from its chahar bagh setting, but would have been a spectacular monument—located as it would have been amidst verdant surroundings.

Dai Anga's Mausoleum

The gateway aperture frames the monument known as Dai Anga's mausoleum. Accessed from Gulabi Gateway itself this famed sepulcher lies at a short distance to the north, marking the centre of the original garden.

This rather ponderous, square brick structure sporting few apertures and presenting a solid face to the garden, was built to house the mortal remains of Dai Anga, Shahjahan's wet nurse and of his daughter Shahzadi Sultan Begam, whose husband built the Gulabi Bagh Gateway. It is the same Dai Anga (wife of Mughal magistrate of Bikaneer), who built the spectacular mosque named after her, situated in Naulakha area of Central Lahore, in which also tile mosaic decoration is employed with wondrous effect.

Traversing the intervening stretch of corridor-like space since the surrounding garden area has been occupied by various railway structures—you arrive at the rather squat-looking tomb placed on a raised plinth. The mausoleum is dominated by a low-pitched dome placed on a high neck or drum, while its corners are accented through the employment of four square pavilion-like kiosks, carrying projecting chajjas (eaves) and cupolas.

Although shorn of most of its ornamentation, the original kashi kari (tile mosaic) can be noticed on the parapet, which points towards the quality and kind of tile mosaic that in all likelihood once covered the entire facade.

Internally, the surface was embellished with fine fresco, portions of which are extant in the squinches above the projecting, beehive-like decorative mucfarnas, along with a starlet dome treatment. The base of the squinches is encircled with inscriptional panels from the Holy Quran, rendered in elegant calligraphy by Muhammad Saleh. The structure dates from l671.

The central sepulchral chamber and surrounding rooms are built upon a raised plinth consisting of subterranean chambers, in which the burials took place. Today, the original cenotaphs are no longer in existence, and the underground chambers are also inaccessible.

Sarvwala Maqbara

Although this tomb is in close vicinity of the Gulabi Bagh and lies directly in the north of Dai Anga's tomb, it is not accessible from there due to the various buildings that have been constructed in the area. No doubt, at one time the gardens of these sepulchers were inter-connected.

To visit the unusual monument of Sarvwala Maqbara, you will have to backtrack a few meters to take a turning to the left on Begampura Road. Turning right (east) through a locality known as Sharif Park and turning left again (north) you will reach your destination. The tomb, however, is not directly visible, because of the houses that surround the monument. But once the location is pointed out and as you turn left, you will not have any difficulty in locating it since it is only slightly set back from the road, and is accessible by car.

The tomb of Sharfunnisa Begam is popularly known as 'Saroowala' (Sarvwala) Maqbara because of images of cypress (sarv) trees rendered in square ceramic tiles, rather than the tile mosaic seen earlier in Gulabi Bagh Gateway, as a decorative feature. The begam was a sister of Nawab Bahadur Khan, a noble at the court of Akbar.

The tower-like form, sporting slightly battered walls, is unique in itself. The building was constructed to cater to Sharfunnisa Begam's requirement of daily visits to the first floor chamber, 16' above the ground. There, after reading the Holy Quran she would deposit the holy book as well as her jeweled sword, descending by means of a removable wooden ladder. After her death she was buried in the same chamber, along with a copy of the holy book and her jeweled sword. Respecting her wishes to keep her mortal remains out of sight and inaccessible, all openings were blocked up, providing a blank appearance in the battered walls on all four sides,

Due to the desecration carried out on this 17th century tomb during the Sikh rule—it was believed that the tower contained treasure, and breaking open the tomb, the holy book and jeweled sword were removed—decorative features are extant only in the upper part of this two-storey structure.

The projecting chajja (eaves), and a pyramidal low roof, similar to one seen in the tomb of Hazrat Mian Mir provides a fitting termination.

Ali Mardan Tomb

From Gulabi Bagh Gateway traveling east on G.T. Road, for the tomb of an important figure of the Mughal period, you should turn right (south) on Mughalpura Road (formerly Wheatman Road or Vetman Road as it is locally called). As you approach the railway tracks, you need to keep a lookout for a small sign saying 'MET-1' on you right. Immediately after the sign is a small gate (presently painted green) for pedestrian entry. The gate is normally locked and is open only on Thursdays. Although it is said that it is open on other weekdays between 10:00 and 12:00 noon as well, if you wish to visit this remarkable structure, it is advisable to contact the Department of Archaeology (tel. 766 2645) so that the relevant guard is instructed to open it. This elaborate arrangement is due to the surrounding area being under the jurisdiction of Pakistan Railways, who have allowed the Department of Archaeology an enclosed walkway for access to the tomb.

Be prepared for a 300 meter walk on a bare earth floor (there is no paving) through this narrow walkway, relieved by an interesting pattern of light and shade filtering on the enclosing bare brick walls through a steel lattice roof. Surprisingly, this complicated arrangement is not for the security of the magnificent tomb, but to ensure inaccessibility to the expensive railway stores of the Railway Carriage Workshop on adjacent land!

Approximately 3/4 of the way through, a passage veers on the left, and leads to a large enclosure with a shrine and historical mosque. The shrine belongs to Ghous-al Azam Dastgir, Hamid Shah Qari, who is much revered by the local community, who congregate here every Thursday. On the left of the mosque are a well and a small wash chamber, said to be of the same vintage as the mosque. The mazar is really a grave in an enclosure but carries no roof. To reach the historic Mughal sepulcher, you will need to continue on the original walkway, which leads you directly to a gate beyond which, in a large, isolated enclosure stands the imposing tomb of Ali Mardan Khan.

Ali Mardan, originally a noble at the court of the Safavid king Shah Tahmasp, after surrendering Iranian Qandahar to Emperor Shahjahan in 1638, rose rapidly to great heights at the Mughal court. He became an indispensable member of the Mughal nobility and was appointed Governor of Kashmir, Lahore and Kabul, also attaining the title of Amir al-Umara (Lord of Lords). His lasting contribution to actualize Shahjahan's paradisical vision for Lahore was the construction of a canal from the river Ravi for the supply of water to the Shalamar Gardens, as well as for the irrigation and cultivation of surrounding areas. Although the Shalamar canal was later completed by others, Ali Mardan also became known for the canal he built at Shajahanabad (Delhi). There is little doubt that "he excited universal admiration at the court by the skill and judgement of his public works." He is known to have built many edifices and gardens—at Nimla (near Kabul), Kabul, Peshawar and Lahore. Much to the sorrow of the emperor, his favorite noble died in 1656-57, while on his way to Kashmir. Ali Mardan Khan's body was carried back to be buried in the magnificent tomb that he had built for his mother.

The tomb itself is an octagonal brick structure, its sides punctured by lofty Timurid iwans, surmounted by a massive 42' diameter dome raised on a drum. Although most of the chattris (domed kiosks) at the corners of the octagon are lost, it is a decorative feature often utilized in 16th and 17th century Mughal tombs.

Today, shorn of surface decoration, except the remains of frescoes in some of the alcoves, the exterior walls must once have carried scintillating tile mosaic (kashi kari), as can be seen in the extant gateway at some distance to the north of the sepulcher.

The tomb once stood at the centre of a paradisiacal garden, a favorite theme as evidenced in the sepulcher of Jahangir. The extent of Ali Mardan garden can be gauged by the double-storey gateway in the north mentioned above. Similar gateways would have marked the centers of the south, west and east edges of the garden square.

Although Ali Mardan Khan was a Mughal noble and not a saint, the spiritually-inclined locals call the tomb Mardan Khan's durbar or shrine. The grave which is in the subterranean chamber, and accessed through a descending flight of steps, is decorated in the manner of a saint's shrine.

The ravaged condition of the tomb is attributed to the Sikh rule, when the tomb structure was used as a military magazine be Gulab Singh, one of Ranjit Singh's generals, and the gateway as residence by Gurdit Singh, colonel of the Sikh battalion Misranwali

Shalamar Gardens

Returning to the G.T. Road and proceeding east you will be able to reach the most spectacular of Shalamar BaghMughal gardens—Shalamar or Bagh-e-Farah Bakhsh (pleasure-giving) and Bagh-e-Faiz Bakhst (bountiful) of the Mughal chronicles.

As you drive on G.T. Road keep a watch for an octagonal turret kiosk (chattri) which will become visible on your left (north) above the surrounding structures. Since the garden is totally enclosed by a plain blank wall in which a small doorway is located, it is best to be vigilant. There is a small parking space on the left where you can park your car. On the left of the doorway is a single-storey structure housing the ticket booth, from where tickets are available for Rs. 4/- per adult.

As is usual in the world of Islam, the gardens are usually introverted—inward looking—where their breathtaking splendor is experienced once you enter the enclosure externally bordered by walls. In the case of the Shalamar, the blank wall hardly prepares you for the awesome scale of the garden as you step inside the small doorway. It is an introduction to Lahore, City of Gardens, as no other garden of the city can give.

Gardens have been an integral part of Mughal royal life ever since Babur, the founder, laid out the first gardens on the bank of the Jamna. It was an attempt to recreate a Chaghatai world of his beloved Kabul—"in spring a heaven"—in a newly conquered Hindustan, which Babur, in his remarkable Baburnama, referred to as "a country of few charms" with no running waters in the gardens, nor any charm in the residences nor hawa (air), regularity or symmetry.

Shalamar Gardens constructed by his great grandson, the aristocratic Shahjahan, is the epitome of Mughal garden design, incorporating the paradisical chahar bagh, nahr (water channels), waterfalls and tanks, along with terracing and pretty pavilions, creating a world of its own within its lofty enclosing walls.

The generous water supply and dramatic water falls became possible due to the engineering skills of Ali Mardan Khan, buried not far from his favorite garden (see Ali Mardan Tomb above), adept at constructing canals for supply of water. The Lahore canal-Shah Nahr (Imperial Canal)—was eventually completed by others The complex water storage, system of aqueducts and hydraulic devised by Mughal architects and engineers, to provide water supply on a large scale in the flat terrain of the Punjab simulating the undulating and dramatic sites of the Kashmir is a tribute to their ingenuity and skill.

Once the canal was completed, a royal edict was issued in 1641 to commence the garden on a spot "so delightfully adapted to the purpose that it was universally commended." The garden, a rectangle 1560' x 690' in three distinct terraces, rises from north to south. It consists primarily of two perfect squares of paradisiacal garden—chahar bagh—in north and south, interrupted in the middle by a rectangular third terrace of an enormous body of water.

Originally, the entrance to the garden was from the north, providing entry at the lowest level and allowing a progression upwards to upper terraces to enjoy the full impact of the cascading waterfall, chahar bagh parterres and water channels, along with flowers and trees—an image of heaven on earth.

The garden was named Bagh-e-Faiz Bakhsh and Bagh-e-Farah Bakhsh after a garden in Kashmir that Shahjahan had constructed when still a shahzadah (prince). At Lahore, the upper terrace—Bagh-e-Farah Bakhsh, the Garden of the Bestower of Pleasure—was reserved for royalty. Its central baradari overlooks the spectacular waterfall discharging into the enormous water reservoir with its 152 fountains—there are over 100 fountains in the upper terrace and more than 150 in the lowest one. You can enjoy sitting on the overhanging throne at the foot of the waterfall or on the central platform (mahtabi) in the middle terrace accessed by causeways leading from east and west. From here you can view the marble inlaid chaddar (cascade) located in southern chahar bagh, as well as the north chahar Shalamar Baghbagh known as Bagh-e-Faiz Bakhsh (the Garden of the Bestower of Plenty), originally intended to be a more public part of the garden.

As we know, the Mughal garden was intended to act as an open air palace—a camping ground for a court that was always on the move—where a few open and tent-like pavilions, along with a hammam, were constructed for the use of imperial family. However, tents were pitched for the grandees and the retinue of the emperor, allowing the usual court ceremonials to take place.

In 1642, the gardens were completed due to the exertions of Khalilullah Khan, having taken "one year, five months and four days." The court historian Inayat Khan recorded, "His Majesty made a pleasure excursion to those paradise-like terraces. And the gardens and the agreeable pavilions which had been erected about the grounds, which all vied with the heavens in grandeur, were now found suitable to the royal taste. In fact, never before had a garden of such a magnificent description been seen or heard of; for the building alone of this earthly Paradise had been erected at an outlay of six lakhs of rupees."

Once Shalamar was completed, Shahjahan bypassed the citadel and preferred to camp "at the pleasant and delightful gardens of Bagh-e-Faiz Bakhsh and Bagh-e-Farah Bakhsh."

Just opposite the garden, south of G.T. Road, is the brick vestige of the original water supply system devised to provide water for the garden as well as for the multitude of fountains that ewn today create a Thousand and One Nights' scene. The only extant element of the famed system now is a large square brick structure, constructed with massive brick masonry, some part: having been unfortunately lost in the widening of the road. The garden suffered considerable damage during the Sikh Period. The pavilions were deprived of their marble and agate work to decorate Ram Bagh and the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

Angoori Bagh Tower

A little to the west, although largely hidden, but can be seen the much mutilated remains of a tower. This tower once enclosed a garden known as Angoori Bagh, sadly all built upon nowadays. Even the tower of Angoori Bagh is not only hemmed in totally, but is being used as part of a house.

The Ravi Monument

G.T. Road/Baghbanpura Monuments

Canal Bank & Mian Mir Monuments

Chauburji & Nawankot Monuments

The City Monuments

The Walled City Monuments

Wazir Khan Monuments

 
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