Shahi Qila, Lahore, Pakistan - April 2008
The Lahore Fort, locally referred to as Shahi Qila (Urdu: شاهی قلعہ ) is citadel of the city of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It is located in the northwestern corner of the Walled City of Lahore. The trapezoidal composition is spread over 20 hectares. Origins of the fort go as far back as antiquity, however, the existing base structure was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605), and was regularly upgraded by subsequent rulers,having thirteen gates in all.. Thus the fort manifests the rich traditions of the entire Mughal architecture. Some of the famous sites inside the fort include: Sheesh Mahal, Alamgiri Gate, Naulakha pavilion, and Moti Masjid. In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Shalimar Gardens (Lahore).
The origins of Lahore Fort are obscure and are traditionally based on various myths. However, during the excavation carried out in 1959 by the Department of Archaeology, in front of Diwan-e-Aam, a gold coin of Mahmood of Ghazni dated A.H. 416 (1025 A.D.) was found at a depth of 7.62 metres from the level of the lawns. Cultural layers continued to a further depth of 5 metres, giving strong indications that people had lived here, long before the conquest of Lahore by Mahmood in 1021 A.D. Further mention of the fort is traceable to Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghuri's successive invasions of Lahore from 1180 to 1186 A.D.
Location of Fort along the Walled City of LahoreIt 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).
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.
The strategic location of Lahore city between the Mughal territories and the strongholds of Kabul, Multan, and Kashmir required the dismantling of the old mud-fort and fortification with solid brick masonry. The strcucture is dominated by Persian influence that deepened with the successive refurbishments by subsequent emperors. The fort is clearly divided into two sections: first the administrative section, which is well connected with main entrances, and comprises larger garden areas and Diwan-e-Aam for royal audiences. The second - a private and concealed residential section - is divided into courts in the northern part, accessible through 'elephant gate'. It also contains Shish Mahal (Hall of Mirrors of Mirror Palace), and spacious bedrooms and smaller gardens. On the outside, the walls are decorated with blue Persian kashi tiles. The original entrance faces the Maryam Zamani Mosque, whereas the larger Alamgiri Gate opens to the Hazuri Bagh through to the majestic Badshahi Mosque.