For we were not always burdened by debt, dependent on foreign aid and handouts; in the stories we tell of ourselves we were not the crazed and destitute radicals you see on your television channels but rather saints and poets and — yes — conquering kings. We built the Royal Mosque and the Shalimar Gardens in this city, and we built the Lahore Fort with its mighty walls and wide ramp for our battle-elephants. And we did these things when your country was still a collection of thirteen small colonies, gnawing away at the edge of a continent.
Perhaps one of the most notable and famous forts of the Mughal era stands in the historical city of Lahore. Lahore Fort also known as Shahi Qila is one of the oldest forts of the subcontinent yet one of the most majestic of all of them. This architectural masterpiece contains twenty-one monuments which date back to Emperor Akbar and was consistently modified and rebuilt during the seventeenth century by featured both Hindu and Islamic architectural ideas. However, this fort was present during the eleventh century but recorded as a mud fort. Today at the northern end of Lahore’s walled city stands the mighty Shahi Qila with all its splendour and opulence.
History of Lahore Fort
Lahore Fort was modified not only during the reign of the Mughals but before them when the Mongols attacked and destroyed the mud fort in 1241 Sultan Balban of the Mamluk dynasty rebuilt the entire fort however it was destroyed again by the invading forces of Timur only to be rebuilt by Mubarak Shah Sayid. It was finally captured by the Mughal emperor Babur and remained under the Mughal control until the Sikhs and British.
During the reign of Akbar, the Lahore Fort was restructured and much of what we see now is of that era. Jahangir’s reign saw the construction forts colossal picture wall, it featured Kala Burj pavilion which had paintings of angels and of Jesus and Madonna. Mariyam Zamani mosque was built adjacent to forts eastern wall and served as a place for Friday prayers. Shah Jehan's reign perhaps saw the addition of one of the most iconic mahals and pavilions. The most famous of which is sheesh mahal and naulakha pavilion these form what is called the Shah Burj.
Since Persian style architecture was favoured in the Emperors time Diwan-I-Aam was constructed in the style of Chehel Sotoun a 40 pillar public hall. One of the most iconic gates of the Lahore Fort was constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb, the prodigious Alamgiri gate faces the famous Badshahi mosque and opens into the beautiful Hazoori garden. This gate symbolizes the power and might of the Mughal emperors and was also featured on Pakistan’s currency.
When the army of Ranjit Singh captured the fort in 1799 from Bhangi Misl he repurposed several places of the Lahore Fort for their own use, for example, the Moti Masjid was converted into a gurdwara a “three doored pavilion” was added to the Lahore Fort and the forts Naag temple was also added during this reign. The famous Diwan-i-Aam was destroyed when Ranjit Singh's son Sher Singh bombarded the hall in his fight against Chand Kaur.
The magnificence and grandeur of Shahi Qila is not hidden in words but the overall experience of visiting the place. Walking up the giant elephant stairs which were used by the royal’s right next to picture wall we reach the shimmering Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of mirrors this one of a kind mahal is unique and no one has ever been able to replicate it.
Till date, no one has been able to understand how the mahal was constructed and what material was used as a mirror. Not only was this mahal unique but the love story surrounding it was also one of a kind. Shah Jehan ordered its construction for his beloved wife Mumtaz mahal however before she could see it completed she died and consequently Shah Jehan ordered the construction of Taj mahal. Not only is the mahal immensely beautiful but the surrounding view of river Ravi was splendid. As one historian says
This novel palace of love can shine and form a galaxy of light with just one candle in the night.
Naulakha Pavilion is another tourist attraction due to the pietra dura work done on it. The name of this pavilion comes from the exorbitant amount of money (9lakh rupees) spent on it. The designs and frescoes made contained precious stones like jade, agate, and goldstone. Out of all the mahals created by Shah Jehan, Naulakha was his favourite because of the stunning views that it had of river Ravi.
Lahore fort is one the most remarkable monuments of Mughal history it symbolized there might and opulence not only is it one it's kind it has structures and pavilions which attract tourist from the around the world.