Lahore Fort Shahi Qila
The Lahore Fort is known as Shahi Qila and it is situated in the historic city of Pakistan, Lahore. This historic Lahore Fort was built in the 11th century and then it was rebuilt in the 17th century. This citadel has carried out many renovations and changes after its manufacturing. This article will highlight the history of Shahi Qila, Lahore Fort to take you back to the royal times. While, Summer Palace of Lahore Fort Shahi Qila is considered as the hidden palace and its architecture will amaze you.
The Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila Lahore is spread across 20 hectares and comprises of 21 monuments. It came into existence when the Mughal Empire outshines. It was the era of Mughal King or King Akbar, who took care of this masterpiece and upgraded it under his supervision.
The entry gate of Badshahi mosque is known as Alamgiri Gate. The entry path to this Shahi Qila Lahore is covered by great walls. This fort is truly a Mughal architecture and masterpiece which was considered as the World Heritage site in 1981. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, named Shahi Qila Lahore as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Currently, Lahore Fort is under the control of the Punjab Government.
During the year 2005 to 2006, funds were also provided to the Lahore Fort in order to restore the damaged parts.
This gorgeous landscape consists of Notable buildings which depicts history and have huge architectural significance. The other attractions of this fort are Sheesh Mehal, Moti Masjid, Naulakha pavilion, and Alamgiri Gate. Solid bricks were used in the construction which are not in a good condition now. When you enter into the premises of Shahi Qila, you will see a beautiful garden in front of you.
Lahore Fort Entry Gates
During the period of 1566 A.D, Akbari gate was built by the Emperor Akbar. A mosque was built in 1614 by the Empress, outside the Akbari Gate and it is still present there. It is called the Eastern gate and Masti Gate and this is one of the two Gates of the Shahi Qila.
Alamgiri Gate is one of the disciplined structure and it is a parameter of grace and dignity. The gate is located on the west end of the fort and this is a major entrance to the Lahore Fort. It was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the year 1674.
This beauty opens into a Hazuri Bagh which faces Badshahi Mosque. This entrance Alamgiri Gate comprised of two semi-circular castles with lotus petal shaped design present at its base. This Lahore monument is a historic sign and it was also featured on the currency of Pakistan.
Naag Temple/ Ath Dara:
Naag temple was built by the wife of Kharak Singh, named Chand Kaur. She was the daughter in law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is known as Ath Dara and Sikh temple, which has been used by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh in court proceedings. This building reflects the detailed work of the craftsmanship.
This temple comprises of eight doors which are impressive and center of attraction for the tourists. The Department of the Punjab Archaeology has recently restored the paintings, woodwork and exquisite mirrors.
Bangla Naulakha or Naulakha Pavilion:
This pavilion was created during the time period of the Mughal historical era and still stands there. The Bangla Naulakha was built in 1633 and it is famous for its intricate white marbles and pietra dura work.
The name Naulakha was given due to its cost which was 900,000 Rupees. Naulakha Pavilion also served as a personal chamber and it is located in the west of the Sheesh Mahal. Its architecture is studded with Agate, Jade and Goldstone. The whole building is made up of wooden sheet and fine glass.
The Diwan-e-Aam is made up of 14 pillars in hall and it was created in the period of Shah Jahan. It was constructed in early 1640s and it was almost destroyed during the battle. During 1849 A.D, Diwan-e-Aam was reconstructed by the British.
This part of Lahore Fort has a marble balcony as an earlier part.
Diwan-e-Khas is the hall where the Emperor used to discuss the matters of the state and this structure is also known as the Hall of Special Audiences. Diwan-e-Khas was built in the early 1640s.
This hall used to present one of the sites of the spectacular ceremony, which was a specific place for the rich and the V.I.P public as a court of King. It is made up of marbles with Agate, Jade and other semi precious stones. Many of them are hand carved which shows the royalty of Shahi Qila Lahore Fort.
This is basically the staircase which comprised of around 58 broad steps. These stairs were used for the purpose of carrying royalties in elephants to and away from the palace. Hathi Paer stairs are 18 feet long and 18 feet wide and they open up to the courtyard from the royal palace.
Moti Masjid is known as a Pearl Mosque and it is all over covered with the white marble work. It was built in 1600s in between the 1630 to 1635. Pearl in Urdu is called “Moti” and it was used as a treasure during the Sikh Rulers.
This mosque was converted into Sikh Temple after the demise of the Mughal emperor. It was named as Moti Mandir in the period of Sikh Rule under the era of Ranjit Singh. Later, this building was used for the purpose of the state treasury.
The British people took over the Punjab during 1849 and they discovered the precious stones which were wrapped in rags and scattered in the mosque.
Paien Bagh of the Lahore fort is another major aspect of the history of Shahi Qila. It was a Prize Garden that was the central part of the Mughal Garden. This part was specifically built to maintain the health of the ladies of the court.
Paien Bagh of Shahi Qila is composed of brickwork with fountains in the center of this garden.
Sheesh Mahal is another major depiction of the history of Shahi Qila. The famous Sheesh Mahal is famous as The Palace of Mirrors. It is also located in the Shah Burj Block and north-west of the Lahore Fort. This crystal palace was reserved for the imperial family and the closest family members.
This Palace of Mirrors was developed during the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was constructed during the 1631-32 year by the Mirza Ghiyas Begh who was the father of Nur Jahan and grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal.
This palace is ornamented with thousand mirrors which are in different sizes. Sheesh Mahal is one of the best known monuments of the Shahi Qila or Lahore Fort. Its walls are covered with the white marble screens and on the floor, you will see many colorful mirrors.
Summer Palace of Lahore Fort is basically the basement of the Shish Mahal or Mirror Palace. This palace was especially constructed for the royal family of Mughal and during the era of the 15th century. Summer Palace has special lighting arrangement as there was no electric power during this era.
Moreover, the summers can be hot and humid and this summer palace was especially designed to cope with the hot weather. It is built by the experts or masters of the Mughals who made the ventilation possible throughout this palace. You can feel the cool breeze circulating in the palace.
History of Shahi Qila is testimony that the creators of Lahore Fort have shown particular expertise in its architecture. Above all, Shahi Qila Lahore is a center of attraction due to the number of fresco paintings present on the inside of this fort. The walls of Lahore Fort are well decorated with the fresco paintings, but some of them have destroyed as a result of environmental condition and lack of maintenance.
The floor of the Palace has been created in such an astounding way that keeps cool all the time. Floor of Summer Palace was composed with two layers. In between these two layers, the water from the River Ravi were flown, scented with the roses. This water was then pumped to the 42 waterfalls and cascades to keep the atmosphere airy, cool and aromatic.
You will find 42 waterfalls and fountain systems inside the Palace. This palace remains airy and filled with pleasant aroma all the time.
The secret entry to the Summer Palace is through the stairs called Hathi Pul or Elephant stairs as mentioned earlier.
Unique Manufacturing Material:
The hidden secret behind this beauty of Lahore Fort is the manufacturing of Summer Palace. The dome shape of ceiling is another amazing construction of this palace. One of the interesting things of this dome-shaped Mahal is that no iron, wooden material or cement had been used to create this magical structure.
In fact, this palace was constructed with dried grass, eggs, lime plasters, seeds, grams from Bengal, clay and small Mughal monument bricks. Thus, the composition made it more cool and calm place.
Another important aspect that you will witness in Shahi Qila is the sophisticated echo system. The Palace was designed in such a way that it helped the Kings to observe everything closely. The echo system is a surveillance system used by Mughal Kings as a security system. Even you can clearly observe the footsteps in the Palace.
During the rule of Ranjit Singh, the Summer Palace remained in the control of Sikh. But it went into the possession of the British East India Company after Sikh met with defeat in the Second Anglo Sikh War. It went into the hands of British Raj in 1858 then transferred to the executors and agents.
The British Civil Defence Department used Summer Palace as a storehouse during the period of World War II. It was then used by Pakistan till the year 1973. Due to excessive usage of the Palace as a storehouse during the war.
Later on the Walled City of Lahore City Authority then took over and started a restoration procedure with the Agha Khan Trust for Culture.
Lahore Fort Museums
There are several museums in Shahi Qila Lahore which you can visit and explore the history of this fort. Three of them are listed below:
This Armory Museum is located inside the Moti Masjid and in the district named Dalan-e-Sang-e-Surkh. It was occupied by the British during the Sikh period of war. You will find swords, arrows, daggers, helmets, guns, spears and pistols.
The Mughal Gallery is all about the history of Shahi Qila and it is like a library. You will find paintings, manuscripts, coins and Persian and Arabic calligraphies. Mughal museum is like a hanging picture wall and a true depiction of Mughal history.
This is the third famous museum, you will witness in the Lahore Fort. It depicts the collection of Princess Bamba which is a center of attraction for the visitors. Visitors will see oil paintings and European artists’ paintings inside the Sikh Gallery.