Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Gardens of Lahore: Hazoori Bagh

Lahore has many names: It is the showcase of Mogul architecture, it is also city of many saints and it also is city of gardens. I have already written about the Mogul architecture that abounds in Lahore - in fact there is so much architecture spread all over the city and outskirts that it requires pages after pages to write about each.
Hazuri Bagh Pavilion [Photo: Tahir Iqbal / Flickr]
As for the saints, I will write a separate post some day. But for today, let me talk of one of the many gardens of Lahore. The gardens left by the Moguls and there after are spectacular and awe inspiring. The best maintained being the Shalamar Gardens. But there is one garden that gets obscured by the two towering architectures on its both end and is never given much attention by the tourists - rather it is taken as part of the both. Yes I am talking of Hazoori Bagh that is located between the Badshahi Mosque ad the Lahore Fort. The word 'Hazoori' is often written as 'Hazuri'  but I think with a double 'O' it is better pronounced.

Plan view of the Mosque-Fort-Roshnai Gate complex surrounding Hazoori Bagh [Map: Google Earth]

If one stands at the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort (above right) and looks in the direction of the Badshahi Mosque, there one small pavilion that is almost located half way between the fort and the mosque. 

Hazoori Bagh Pavilion as seen from standing at the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort with Badshahi Mosque in the background [ Photo: Jalal HB]
This is the pavilion or the 'Bara Dari (a structure with 12 gates or entrances), which is the part of the Hazoori Bagh.

An old painting of Hazoori Bagh with Lahore Fort in background - times when caravans used to park in the woods of dates trees around the complex [ Photo: Citadel of Lahore ]

Many think that Hazoori Bagh has been a part of the original complex of the Fort and the Mosque and it take it as a Mogul architecture. But a few know that Hazoori Bagh was built much later in the 19th century by Sikh ruler of Punjab Ranjit Singh.

As per archives, the place where Hazoori Bagh pavilion now stands had a Mogul structure known as Alamgiri Sarai, attributed to have been built by the Emperor Aurangzeb. The Serai of Aurangzeb was in fact a forecourt to the Badshahi Mosque where the Mughal ruler would approach and enter the mosque. But during the Sikh rule, when Lahore was robbed of its treasure, and Ranjit Singh was celebrating the capture of the famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond from Shah Shujah of Afghanistan, he ordered building of a pavilion with gardens around it and named it Hazoori Bagh.

                         Hazoori Bagh pavilion as captured by me during visit to the place awhile ago
The pavilion was built as a double storied building in 1813 marble used for its construction was removed from various Muslim mausoleums in and around Lahore, the same way the ornamnetd panels and glass-work patches were removed from the famous Sheesh Mahal (the Glass House) of the Lahore Fort and used in Sikh religious sites in Amritsar. These are hard facts of history.
The mirrored ceiling of the pavilion [Photo: Tahir Iqbal / Flickr]  
Ranjit Singh used the pavilion as a place to hold court, and the mirrored ceiling in the central chamber is a testament to this function.

The original 2-storied Hazoori Bagh Pavilion with Lahore Fort in the background [Photo: Wikipedia]
Old photographs of the baradari establish that it once supported a second level which collapsed in July 1932 due to electric bolt.

Although many people and tourists throng the area, a very few venture to go inside the pavilion. Here are some close ups of the pavilion from close quarter, taken by my Flickr friend Tahir Iqbal, whose beautiful photos I have shared in a number of posts earlier on.

The beauty of historical places and archaeological sites can only be appreciated if these are seen from very close quarters, looking very minutely and closely the form, type and designs of the architecture. Located right in the centre of the courtyard of the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque, one should not miss out Hazoori Bagh and appreciate its design and architecture, which though built almost two to three centuries after the three Mogul architectures surrounding it (the Roshnai Gate I forgot to mention that is located to the north of Hazoori Bagh just ahead of the resting place of Ranjit Singh - you may correlate all these places in the map given above), does not look out of place and has the same design and architecture as that was adopted by the Mogul era architects.
Another view of Hazoori Bagh Pavilion with Badshahi Mosque in the background [Photo: Jalal HB]
Next time you are visiting Lahore and happen to be in the area of Lahore Fort, do walk over to Hazoori Bagh on your way to Badshahi Mosque to pay a visit to this small, yet elegant looking pavilion. I have deliberately omitted some details on its architecture as these are abundantly available on internet. However following references may be consulted for more on Hazoori Bagh. 

Hazuri Bagh (Wikipedia)
Hazuri Bagh (Asian Historical Architecture)