Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 80, Lahore Fort, Pakistan (3)

Our final destination in Pakistan is the Lahore Fort.

It cannot be said with certainty when the Lahore Fort was originally constructed or by whom, since this information is lost to history, possibly forever.
However, evidence found in archaeological digs gives strong indications that it was built long before 1025 A.D

1241 A.D. - Destroyed by Mongols.

1267 A.D. - Rebuilt by Sultan Ghiyas ud din Balban.
1398 A.D. - Destroyed again, by Amir Tamir's army.
1421 A.D. - Rebuilt in mud by Sultan Mubark Shah Syed.
1432 A.D. - The fort is occupied by Shaikh Ali of Kabul who makes repairs to the damages inflicted on it by Shaikha Khokhar.
1566 A.D. - Rebuilt by Mughal emperor Akbar, in solid brick masonry on its earlier foundations. Also perhaps, its area was extended towards the river Ravi, which then and up to about 1849 A.D., used to flow along its fortification on the north. Akbar also built Doulat Khana-e-Khas-o-Am, the famous Jharoka-e-Darshan (Balcony for Royal Appearance), Masjidi Gate etc.
1618 A.D. - Jehangir adds Doulat Khana-e-Jehangir
1631 A.D. - Shahjahan builds Shish Mahal (Mirror Palace).

1633 A.D. - Shahjahan builds Khawabgah (a dream place or sleeping area), Hamam (bath ), Khilwat Khana (retiring room), and Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque).[5]
1645 A.D. - Shahjahan builds Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of Special Audience).
1674 A.D. - Aurangzeb adds the massively fluted Alamgiri Gate.
(Sometime during) 1799-1839 A.D. - The outer fortification wall on the north with the moat, the marble athdera, Havaeli Mai Jindan and Bara Dari Raja Dhiyan Singh were constructed by Ranjit Singh, Sikh ruler from 1799-1839 A.D.
1846 A.D. - Occupied by the British.
1927 A.D. - The British hand over the Fort to the Department of Archaeology after demolishing a portion of the fortification wall on the south and converting it into a stepped form
thus defortifying the fort

We enter the fort on its western side through the colossal Alamgiri Gate, built by Aurangzeb in 1674 as a private entrance to the royal quarters.

Whoa, this is really huge!!!
It was large enough to allow several elephants carrying members of the royal household to enter at one time.

The Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience), an open pavilion with 40 pillars was built by Shah Jahan in 1631, with an upper balcony added by Akbar.
It's where the emperor would make a daily public appearance, receive official visitors and review parades.
The serpentine sandstone brackets are typical of Akbar's commissions, with the depiction of animals showing Hindu influence and reflecting Akbar's policy of religious tolerance

Khawabgarh-i-Jehangir (Jehangir's Sleeping Quarters), a pavilion on the north side of his quadrangle,
It now houses a small museum of Mughal antiquities.The items include a huge ivory model of the Taj Mahal, some excellent illustrated manuscripts (including the Akbar Nama, the daily chronicle of Akbar's reign), some beautiful calligraphy, miniature paintings and a collection of Mughal coins.

One charming story about Jehangir is that he had a chain suspended outside the fort, which anyone unable to obtain justice through the usual channels could pull. A bell would ring in his private chambers and the petition would receive his personal attention.

The Shish Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), built by Shah Jahan in 1631.
Decorated with glass mirrors set into the stucco interior, it was built for the empress and her court and installed with screens to conceal them from prying eyes.
The walls were rebuilt in the Sikh period, but the original marble tracery screens and pietra dura (inlay work) are in remarkable condition.
The view from here over the rest of the fort and Badshahi Mosque is rewarding.

Wow! This place is absolutely awesome!!

Naulakha is the marble pavilion on the west side of the quadrangle, lavishly decorated with pietra dura - studded with tiny jewels in intricate floral motifs.
It was erected in 1631 and its name, meaning nine lakh (900,000), refers either to the price to build it or the number of semiprecious stones used in its construction.

There are three small museums on site: the Armoury Gallery exhibits various arms including pistols, swords, daggers, spears and arrows; the Sikh Gallery predominantly houses rare oil paintings; and the Mughal Gallery includes among its exhibits old manuscripts, calligraphy, coins and miniature paintings, as well as an ivory miniature model of India's Taj Mahal.

The nearby Shalamar Gardens are absolutely impressive.

As we leave this amazing UNESCO world heritage sight, we cannot help but imagine what it must have felt like to be an Empress in this place ;-)..........

Thanks Ashfaque....this was a spectacular please get us across the border - back to India where we started this amazing odyssey 80 days ago.........
We don't want our Indian friends to be detained ...for being Indian spies!!

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