lahore fort

Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila of Lahore Pakistan

Lahore Fort, commonly known in Urdu as “Shahi Qila” (royal fort), was originally designed to protect the Northern-Western entrance to the walled, old city of Lahore in Pakistan. This is not a Lahore Fort essay, but a travelogue on my guided tour there.

Lahore Fort Pictures and Sketches

Lahore fort map, pictures (fort pics), pencil sketch drawing and google earth Lahore fort location is pasted below for your reference.

Fort Route Map

The main gate of Lahore Fort Sketch 1936

Lahore fort history and Information

Mughal king Muhammad Akbar took control of the fort in 1575. Then came the Sikh era (1712-1849) followed by British colonials (1846). This fort has been repeatedly damaged, demolished and rebuilt many times. It occupies around about 50 acres of land.

Type Lahore Fort on Wikipedia and you’d get a lot of information, but not the one need to go over  a tour of the place, that you get in my blog.

Tour of Lahore fort

The temperature at Lahore fort is very hot in summers, so bring your water with you and keep a headscarf wrapped at all times. It is better to hire a guide that can show you all the important places in the correct sequence and tell interesting trivia related to the sites inside the fort.

Must See places of Lahore Fort

Must see places are :

Alamgiri gate

It opens into Hazuri bagh. Its pavilion and towers are landmarks of Lahore city itself. The pavilion, which stands in the garden known as the Hazuri bagh, was built by Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1818. The upper two storeys of the structure were destroyed in a lightning strike in 1932.

lahre fort

Fort Picture Wall

It was built in Jahangir era, decorated with glazed tiles, mosaics and fresco.

Sheesh Mahal

Sheesh mahal  is located within Jahangir’s Shahburj block (if you are interested in other jahangir buildings then you can see Hiran minarIt was constructed during Shajahan’s era for the personal use of the imperial family. It really does have amazing mirror work (Ayina Kari). 

Kala burj

 Kala Burj was built in Jahangir reign, it was used as a summer pavilion.

lahore fort

Naulakha Pavilion,

Naulakha’s construction cost around 9 lakh rupees (that’s why the name). It serves a personal chamber located near Sheesh Mahal.

lahore fort

Diwan-i- Khas,

Diwan i Khas is where state guest were received.

Elephant stairs

The wide stairways into the fort (it’s a name we gave), its where your tour start. Stairs are made up of bricks and wide enough to allow elephants to pass through.

Vantage point,

From here you can see Minar -i- Pakistan, badshahi masjid and Gurdwara Dehra Sahib Sri Arjun Dev.

lahore fort

The Khawabgah of Shajahan,

There are five sleeping chamber in one row. Not exciting thing to see.

lahore fort

Mai Jindan Haveli

This Haveli s now site for Sikh gallery museum. Maharani Jind Kaur was the youngest wife of first maharaja of Sikh empire Ranjit Singh.

lahore fort

Souvenir shop

An  interesting place to buy key chains and fridge magnates.

lahore fort

By the time, we reached Diwan-i- Aam we were too tired and couldn’t see

, but you need special permission, which we didn’t have.

Also see, Heritage sites outside Lahore Fort

Army Museum Lahore

Badshahi Masjid

is within walking distance of Lahore Fort. Every Pakistani must see the architectural and historical wonder at least once in a lifetime. Overall, it was a very good trip. Going there in the summer heat might not a good idea.

It is very convenient to go to Lahore fort on the metro bus.

Fort Schematic Diagram

lahore fort

Historic Accounts involving Lahore Fort

Some interesting historical trivia about the fort:-

Governer Generals Acount of Lahore Fort 1846

“In the 80 years, British used it as a cantonment, the Lahore Fort has had to bear a large number of interventions like the Diwan-e-Aam being converted to military barracks then to a dispensary. Diwan-e-Khas was used as Church-cum-residence, Moti Masjid as treasury, basement chambers as liquor cellars as well as a number of new offices, storage facilities, and stables were added to the site of the fort.”

“The British army has this day occupied the gateway to the citadel of Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque, and the Hazoori Bagh. The remaining part of the citadel is the residence of the Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, for so many years the faithful ally of the British Government…”

Governor-General of India 22 Feb 1846

Ranjit Singh had his horses inside Badshahi mosque

“Almost 200 years ago when the Sukerchakian chief from Gujranwala, Ranjit Singh, declared himself the maharajah of Punjab in the Lahore Fort on Muharram 10, 1799, the day he conquered the city, he declared that any man with any pride must give top priority to his horses, his work and his women, in that order. If you have visited the Lahore Fort, you will notice to the left of the side entrance a British military barrack. Before the British built this barrack, this was the stable of the Lahore Darbar.

At any one time, Maharajah Ranjit Singh could keep almost 1,000 of the very finest horses there. When he ran out of space they went into the Hazoori Bagh, and when that was not enough the horses went into the Badshahi Masjid. Such was the craze of the man who ruled Punjab for a full 40 years with an iron grip, and rule he did with great wisdom. For a beautiful horse or a beautiful woman, he would go to any length”

Jehangir’s take over of Lahore Fort

“In 1594, Akbar quit Lahore forever. During his reign, he enclosed Lahore with a strong 30 feet high wall. The fort was rebuilt and palaces were added. That was the golden period of Lahore and people enjoyed it. A few years after Jahangir’s succession to the throne in 1605 A.D., his own son, Prince Khusro seized the suburbs of Lahore and besieged the fort with the involvement of the fifth Sikh Guru, Siri Arjan Dev. Jahangir defeated his son at Lahore and set up his court in Lahore in 1622 A.D. The emperor, however, died in 1627 and was buried in Lahore.”

British Takeover of Lahore Fort 1849

“Lord Dalhousie proclaimed annexation of Punjab on 29 March 1849. His foreign secretary, Henry Miers Elliot, arrived at Lahore to obtain the signatures of the members of the Council of Regency and of the minor king, Maharaja Duleep Singh. A darbar was held in the Lahore Fort and, with the British troops lined up on his right and his helpless Sardars on his left, the young Duleep Singh affixed his signatures to the document which deprived him of his crown and kingdom.”

The Freedom fighters of Lahore 1857

MianMeer was an army garrison in 1857 . One of the regiments deputed there was the 26th Native Infantry (N.I.). This regiment had planned to take control of the Lahore Fort, which then was a place of immense strategic importance. It was thought that whoever possessed the fort, controlled the city. The civil secretariat was yet to be constructed and the fort was the main office from where all instructions were issued. The fort also housed a very large arsenal of the British army along with an immense treasure.

The episode of Lahore native (mountaineering) regiments was very tragic. On 30th July the 26th NI suddenly rose and fled out of Lahore after murdering two British officers. Initially, a dust storm concealed their direction of flight. So the pursuing party went southward to intercept them, while the fugitive soldiers were heading in the opposite direction towards the north, along the left bank of River Ravi. About 42 kilometers away on a ghat west of Ajnala on River Ravi (the exact location is not known to me), the unlucky soldiers were intercepted by a local Tehsildar, helped by local police, and a large number of local people. Who shot or drowned about 150 soldiers. In the meantime pursuing party of 90 cavalrymen reached there. The rest of the unarmed, tired, and famished soldiers were taking shelter on an island and along the river bank. They were in no position to fight or flee. They were gradually arrested and brought back to the shore on boats.

On a rainy night, with flooded plains full of mud, these hapless, terrified, hungry and tired human beings were marched towards Ajnala 12 kilometers away. They reached the police station by midnight. They were huddled into the police station and a nearby old tower. What followed next, I shall quote the author:

The slaughter of Muslims on Eid by the British

The climax of fortunate coincidences seemed to have arrived when it was remembered that the 1st of August was the anniversary of the great Mahomedan sacrificial festival of the Bukra Eid. A capital excuse was thus afforded to permit the Hindoostanee Mussulman horsemen (90 pursuing cavalrymen) to return to celebrate it at Umritsur; while the single Christian (magistrate of Ajnala), unembarrassed by their presence, and aided by the faithful Sikhs (Sikh irregular levies), might perform a ceremonial sacrifice of a different nature and nature of which they had not been made aware of, on the same morrow. When that morrow dawned, sentries were placed around the town, to prevent the egress of sight-seers. The officials were called, and they were made aware of the character of the spectacle they were about to witness.
Ten by ten the sepoys were called forth. Their names having been taken down in succession, they were pinioned, linked together, and marched to execution; a firing party being in readiness. Every phase of deportment was manifested by the doomed men after the sullen firing of volleys of distant musketry forced the conviction of inevitable death: astonishment, rage, frantic despair, the most stoic calmness.” In this manner, the executions continued for several hours until the number reached 237 when somebody reported the remaining soldiers are refusing to come out of the tower. When investigated it was discovered that:
 “Forty-five bodies, dead from fright, exhaustion, fatigue, heat, and partial suffocation, were dragged into the light, and consigned, in common with all the other bodies, into one common pit, by the hands of the village sweepers.”

Thus 282 soldiers of 26 NI, were executed in Ajnala. Most probably a few, if any were able to escape. The soldiers were Bhojpuri / Awadhi speaking and it was not easy for them to mix in the local Punjabi speaking population. Especially, when Sikhs were very hostile to these Purbeea soldiers.  Subsequently, 41 more soldiers were captured and transferred to Lahore, and blown away from the cannons.  So the entire regiment of nearly one thousand soldiers was almost completely annihilated. The author was the deputy commissioner of Amritsar and thus responsible for this atrocity.

The executed soldiers were thrown into an old well. Though the existence of such a well near Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj”

Secrets of Lahore Fort

Aurengzeb designed two story high catacombs beneath Lahore Fort and had secret passageways linking various corners and even far away from the fort outside.

PostScript.

Lahore fort is different from Lahore Fortress, which is a stadium constructed by the British colonials in Lahore. Somehow, because of the Lahore Fortress shopping malls, cinema houses, food courts, rides, and play areas and apartments, this place gets more traction than the old Lahore Fort in the walled city of Lahore. Lahore fort visit timings are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. The better hotels around Lahore fort are Avari Lahore, four points Sheraton Lahore, Pearl Continental Lahore, but I have never heard of the Cornell hotel Lahore. Apparently, there is a Lahore Fort hotel in Xian China, run by Pakistanis from Lahore and is doing pretty well. You can get information about the Lahore fort curator from this site. In Chinese, Lahore is pronounced 拉合尔.

Similar Posts

2 Comments

  1. Shazia Afzal says:

    we have a very rich history

  2. Dr Ghazala Inam Ul Haq says:

    Good write up

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *