Sunday, February 15, 2009
Lahore Fort is located at an eminence in the northwest corner of the Walled City. The citadel is spread over approximately 50 acres and is trapezoidal in form. Although the origin of this fort goes deep into antiquity, the present fortifications were begun by Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. There is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021, when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern fort on the old foundations. The fort's mud construction dates back to the early Hindu period. The fort is mentioned in connection with Muhammad Sam's invasions of Lahore in 1180, 1184, and 1186. It was ruined by the Mongols in 1241, and then rebuilt by Balban in 1267. It was again destroyed by Amir Taimur's army in 1398, to be rebuilt in mud by Sultan Mubarak Shah in 1421, then taken and repaired by Shaikh Ali. The present fort, in brick and solid masonry, was built during Akbar's reign between 1556 and 1605. Every succeeding Mughal emperor, as well as the Sikhs and the British, added a pavilion, palace, or wall to the Lahore Fort, making it the only monument in Pakistan which represents a complete history of Mughal architecture.
There are two huge gates in the fortifications, one each in the middle of the east and the west sides. The western gate, known as Alamgiri Gate, is presently used as the main entrance; however, plans are afoot to open the eastern gate, the Fort's Masjidi Gate, to the general public as well. The Masjidi Gate, built in 1666 during Akbar's reign, was the original entrance to the fort and faces the historic Maryam Zamani Mosque. Alamgiri Gate, a magnificent double-storey gate, was built by Emperor Mohiuddin Aurangezeb Alamgir in 1673 and faces the grand Badshahi Mosque and opens into Hazuri Bagh. The imposing semicircular bastions flanking the gateway have lotus petals at their base and are highly fluted, crowned with small, graceful domed kiosks. The fortification wall is built of small burnt bricks strengthened with semicircular bastions at regular intervals.
Although most parts of the Royal Fort were constructed around 1566 A.D. by the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, there is evidence that a mud fort was in existence here in 1021 A.D. as well, when Mahmood of Ghazna invaded this area. Akbar demolished the old mud fort and constructed most of the modern Fort, as we see it today, on the old foundations.
The Royal Fort is rectangular. The main gates are located alongside the centre of the western and eastern walls. Every succeeding Mughal Emperor as well as the Sikhs, and the British in their turn, added a pavilion, palace or wall to the Fort. Emperor Jehangir extended the gardens and constructed the palaces that we see today in the Jehangir?s Quadrangle, while Shah-Jehan added Diwan-e-Khas, Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and his own Sleeping Chambers. Aurangzeb built the impressive main gate which faces the Hazoori Bagh lying in between the Badshahi Mosque and the Fort. The Famous Sheesh Mahal or Palace of Mirrors is in the north-east corner of the Fort. This is the most beautiful palace in the Fort and is decorated with small mirrors of different colours set.
The part of the wall of the Elephant Steps towards the Fort?s inner gate are scarred by bullet marks, bearing testimony to the Sikh Civil War of 1847 A.D.
The Sleeping Chamber of Mai Jindan houses a very interesting museum with relics from Mughal and the Sikh periods.