Lahore History Tour – Installment #15

After going through Jahangir’s Quadrangle, we now move to the quad associated with his son Shah Jahan who became emperor of the Mughal Empire on February 1, 1628. Lahore, the city of his birth was much favoured by the emperor, and prospered greatly as the second capital of the empire.

Shah Jehan’s quadrangle is located to the west of Jahangir’s Quadrangle. It incorporates a chahar bagh (four gardens), whose four sections are divided with walkways and central axis makred by a 31′ x 31′ marble platform incorporating a water reservoir.

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The quadrangle is bordered by a building known as ‘Khwabgah-e-Shahjahani’ (Shah Jahan’s sleeping chambers), contiguous to which is the royal hammam. The khwabgah is a large building dominating the southern periphery of the quad. It was built in 1634 and was among the first Shahjahani buildings of the fort. The construction consists of lofty interiors, incorporating arches, squinches, and vaults. As you can see, there has been much tampering with it, inflicting great damage to its intenral features and has been largely divested of its decorative features. There are some unfortunate samples of more recent tampering consisting of badly-executed mirror work and incised plaster work, as well as indiscriminate plastering of walls and earlier Sikh period paintings.

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As in the case of the earlier Jahangir’s Quadrangle, the northern wall here also boasts the most important structure in the quad, an elegant white marble baradari marking the central axis, known as Diwan-e-Khas. This elegant pavilion of pure white marble screens, mosaic floors, and wide arches served the emperor as a place where he met special guests. It’s parapet is embellished with pietra dura work. It has a marble ceiling, and floors in beautiful geometric patterns in marble.

The building also did duty as a garrison church during British occupation of the fort, when the elegant fountain and the marble screens in the north were filled with concrete.

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