UNESCO World Heritage Site: Lahore Fort

From the UNESCO site

The Lahore fort and the Shalamar gardens (latter we couldn’t visit) are two masterpieces from the time of the brilliant Mughal civilization, which reached its height during the reign of the Emperor Shah Jahan. The Lahore fort contains marble palaces and mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt.

Alamgiri Gate of Lahore Fort, Pakistan

Alamgiri Gate of Lahore Fort, Pakistan

The UNESCO Site continues about the Lahore fort in the following paragraph:

The Lahore fort is located in the old city of Lahore, characterized by monumental structures and extensive water gardens. The Mughal civilisation, a fusion of Islamic, Persian, Hindu and Mongol sources, dominated the Indian subcontinent for several centuries and strongly influenced its subsequent development.

Arch towards the queen's palace, the Sheesh Mahal, Lahore, Pakistan

Arch/Gate towards the queen’s palace, the Sheesh Mahal, Lahore, Pakistan

The elephant stairs, Lahore fort

It is said, that the emperor use to ride on the back of his elephants over these hugely dimensioned stairs in the Lahore fort

The 21 monuments which survive within its boundaries, comprise an outstanding repertory of the forms of Mughal architecture from the reign of Akbar (1542-1605), characterized by standardized masonry of baked brick and red sandstone courses relieved by Hindu motifs including zooomorphic corbels, through that of Shah Jahan (1627-58), characterized by the use of luxurious marbles, inlays of precious materials and mosaics, set within exuberant decorative motifs of Persian origins.

Sheesh Mahal, Lahore, Pakistan

Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace given the name by the mirror inlays all over the walls, Lahore, Pakistan

Escaping the persistent cold and grey weather in Europe we travelled to Lahore at the end of December of 2011 (worth another story, another post). In these 5 days, we managed to visit a few famous Mughul sites, including the Lahore fort, the Badshahi Mosque and Hiran Minar in Sheikhupura. Like the country (a dose of Pun intended), regrettably these historic sites have been subjected to neglect, poor state of repair and left to crumble quietly!

Sheesh Mahal or Mirror palace, Lahore Fort, Pakistan

Mirror inlay work in marble walls give this palace its name, the Sheesh Mahal or Mirror palace, Lahore Fort, Pakistan

That said, it is still possible to see beauty in the decaying elegance. My husband couldn’t stop wondering at the grandeur of the fort, the massive constructions and the huge dimensions (e.g. the walls, the arches), the intricate wood work, the delicacy and precision of the inlays. He was in awe and sorrow, latter for the state the fort is in.

Sheesh Mahal, Lahore Fort

Sheesh Mahal, Lahore Fort

Note the intricate marble inlay work in Persian Design at the top of the pillars

INlays on Marble walls of the Lahore fort/ Pakistan

Inlays on Marble walls of the Lahore fort/ Pakistan

Courtyard infront of Sheesh Mahal with dried out water springs

Courtyard infront of Sheesh Mahal with dried out water springs

A Burqa clad women is crossing a dried out water channel of a beautiful water sprinkling system of the courtyard infront of the Sheesh/Mirror Palace. When I visited the Lahore fort in the 80’s the water springs were functioning. Some of them have been laid dry we were told, partly due to fear of Dengue fever.

Apparently the construction was engineered to adjust the room temperature without any extra energy expenditure! Intelligent, isn’t it? I overheard a guide’s presentation. Usually I am a sceptic of guides. I went to check myself and indeed felt the difference in temperature. (I didn’t see any cables).

If you do go to Pakistan, Lahore – in the north east – should be on your itinerary; best time being between October to April, is my opinion.  Do try to visit at least the Mughul sites of the city. Of course Lahore has much more to offer, a Lahorite would say!

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