Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tomb of Emperor Jahangir - Lahore

In and around Lahore there is so much of tourist attraction that doesn't find time to move around. Spread over the entire city and even outside are the archaeological remains specially of the Mogul period, when Lahore was one of their important destinations and part of their government. That is why Lahore is often regarded as the Showcase of Mogul Architecture.

Sheikhu or Prince Salim grew to be Emperor Jahangir
Going out of Lahore, there is a city of Sheikhu-Pura and the nearby Hiran Minar (the Deer Tower). The city of Sheikhu Pura takes its name from the Mogul prince Salim, who was called as  Sheikhu  by his  father, Emperor Akbar. The Dear Tower was built by Sheikhu in the memory of his beloved deer who was accidently shot during a hunt. 

Later when the young Sheikhu or the prince Salim grew up, he took over the Mogul throne after the death of Emperor Akbar and became to be known in the history as the Emperor Jahangir, who rule India from from 1605 to 1628 as the 4th Mogul emperor. In Persian Jahan Gir means the one who conquers the world.

Jahangir is most famous for his golden "chain of justice." The chain was set up as a link between his people and Jahangir himself. Anyone puling the chain and ringing the bell in distress, was personally heard of his grievances by none other than the Emperor Jahangir himself. Jahangir's rule was famous for its rule of law and justice for all people of India no matter what their religion, caste or creed was. Jahangir also patronized architecture, literature, philosophy, paintings and other form of art. Like his ancestors Jahangir was also a good writer and had penned down his life and his experiences in the form of an autobiography named Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, as did his ancestor Emperor Babar while writing Tuzk-e-Babri.

Empress Noor Jahan
The name of Jahangir is synonymous with the name of Noor-e-Jhan or simply the Noor Jahan, his beloved queen. Noor Jahan in Persian means the light of the world. 

It is from here that Jahangir and his beloved queen make inroads to this post as both are the only Mogul emperor and empresses who are buried in Lahore in adjacently constructed tombs. While I will talk of Noor Jahan' s tomb subsequently, let me describe the Emperor's tomb here in some details accompanied by photographs and a video. 

Jahangir's tomb is situated outside the present Lahore city and across the River Ravi in a locality called Shahdara. The area in Jahangir's times was a vast open area with thick date trees, some of which still survive today. Jahangir, as he had great love for nature and hunting, would often come to Shahdara along with Noor Jahan and even camp during hunting seasons in the special royal garden. Noor Jahan got a beautiful garden laid at Shahdara, which was known as "Dilkusha Garden" - a garden that pleased the hearts.

When Jahangir died in 1625, his younger son Shah Jahan built Jahangir's tomb on the site of "Dilkusha Garden" which was completed in 1637 and cost Rs 1 million, the same way he later built Taj Mahal for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The walled tomb-garden is entered from the Akbari serai on the west side.

Akbari Serai
The entrance to the tomb has extensive architectural element with niches, done up in red sandstone.  The entire layout is symmetrical, set amidst "Chahar Bagh" - four garden. The tomb itself is located at the centre of the mausoleum building. At the centre of an approximately 600 square yards garden lies the tomb building also made of red sandstone and inlaid with marble. The tomb has been constructed on a high platform and has four tall minarets on its corners. 

Massive Tomb of Jahangir built on an elevated platform with four minarets

 Gateway to the Tomb

Chambers surrounding the centre of the mausoleum where the tomb of Jahangir is located
The grave of Jahangir is placed at the center of the mausoleum in an octagonal chamber. The cenotaph at the center is carved from a single slab of white marble and decorated with the 99 attributes of God, as can be seen below in the three photographs. At its foot is an inscription in Persian recording that "This is the illuminated grave of His Majesty, the Asylum of Pardon, Nooruddin Muhammad Jahangir Padshah 1037 AH".

The marble cenotaph is inlaid precious stones set in naturalistic floral patterns, and black calligraphy inscribing the date of Jahangir's death, and the ninety-nine names of God.

 Fresco in vestibule of tomb chamber

The tomb of Jahangir is one of the most liked tourist attraction and besides tourists from world over, local population throng the place on weekends for picnic and day spending.

Photo Attribution: All the photos above have been shared with due courtesy of my Flicker friend Tahir Iqbal’s set of Lahore – West Punjab. Tahir Iqbal has extensive coverage of cities of Pakistan and has traced back history of few cities. I have already shared his photos in my earlier posts as under:  

Read more:
Tomb of Jahangir (Pakistanpaedia)
Walled City of Lahore (Pakistanpaedia)
Lahore (Pakistanpaedia)