Architecture of Pakistan

Mughal Architecture

Mughal architecture is a building style that developed in the Indian subcontinent from the 16th until the early 18th century, during the reign of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals were a Muslim Empire descended from the Mongol Empire of Turkestan. The architectural style is a remarkable mixture of Islamic, Indian, Turkish, and Persian styles.

Mughal architecture is characterized by its symmetry, geometrical shapes, and detailed ornamentation. Typical elements include the use of pointed arches, the bulbous domes, magnificent minarets with cupolas at the four corners, large halls, and enormous gateways. Great focus was laid on surrounding gardens and manicured lawns. Some important examples include Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Hiran Minar,  and Shalamar Gardens.

LAHORE FORT

Lahore Fort is one of the main attractions in Lahore City. Traditionally it is stated that the Fort was built as early as the city itself and its foundation is attributed to mythic Loh, a son of the hero of Ramayana of Legendary age (1200-800 B.C).

It is thought that the Fort predated Mughals who, however, enlarged and renovated it, giving it its distinct Mughal shape for which it is known today. There is a mention of the contribution of several Mughal Emperors including Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan towards its renovation and enhancement. 

Read more about it here (https://archaeology.punjab.gov.pk/lahore-fort

The Lahore Fort has been listed on the World Heritage List since 1981. (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/171/

Watch a tourist experiencing the marvel of Lahore Fort here.

NAULAKHA PAVILION

The Naulakha Pavilion is a white marble chamber for the personal use of the Emperor and his family with a curvilinear roof, located next to the courtyard of Sheesh Mahal in the northern part of Lahore Fort in Lahore, Pakistan. It is known to be the favorite place to rest for Emperor Shah Jahan when in Lahore. The monument is one of 21 monuments located in Lahore Fort on the UNESCO Heritage List with its western facade offering panoramic views of the ancient city of Lahore.

Read more about Naulakha Pavilion here (https://archnet.org/sites/2747) or understand the aspect of the love of Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife here (https://dailytimes.com.pk/304252/naulakha-of-lahore-fort-the-expression-of-love-by-shah-jahan-for-mumtaz-mahal/

SHALIMAR GARDEN

Lahore Shalimar Gardens are royal gardens created in 1641 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who was then at the peak of his power. These gardens have been inscribed since 1981, together with Lahore Fort, on the World Heritage List. The gardens are arranged on three terraces with pavilions and large ponds. This configuration allows the creation of waterfalls and ponds. Two of the terraces adopt a square chahar bagh plan, while the central rectangular terrace is a large pool around which pavilions and gazebos are arranged. A set of canals creates waterfalls that flow through low walls pierced with niches.

Read more about the Gardens here (https://www.orientalarchitecture.com/sid/572/pakistan/lahore/shalamar-gardens

Watch the resplendent beauty of Shalamar Gardens here

HIRAN MINAR

Hiran Minar “The Tower of the Deer” is an early 17th century Mughal-era complex located in the city of Sheikhupura, in the Pakistani province of Punjab. The complex was built on the site of a game reserve in honor of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s pet antelope. The Emperor is remembered for his love of nature, and his complex embodies the Mughal relationship between humans, pets, and the hunt.

Read more about Hiran Minar here (https://medium.com/@tuba.virk2/history-of-hiran-minar-21480a606d3e

Watch the Hiran Minar here

Tomb of Emperor Jahangir

Jahangir’s Tomb is a 17th century mausoleum built for Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The mausoleum dates from 1637 and is located at Shahdara Bagh in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, along the banks of the Ravi River. The site is famous for its interiors which are abundantly decorated with frescoes and marble, and its exterior is richly decorated with pietra dura. The tomb, along with the adjacent Akbari Sarai and Asif Khan’s Tomb, are part of a set currently on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Read more about the Tomb here (https://aroundpakistan.com/emperor-jahangir-tomb-finest-mughal-era-royal-tomb/

Watch the Tomb and some bits of its fascinating history here

TOMB OF ANARKALI

Anarkali’s Tomb is a monument to the tragic love between a Prince (later emperor) and a courtesan (Nadira Begum aka Anarkali) the latter of which found her resting place in this octagonal tomb – symbolizing eternity. Anarkali was either a member of the entourage of the Queen or a member of the Royal Harem. Either way, she was accused of having ‘lured the young prince’ into her love for which crime she is reported to have been executed. The heart broken prince – after six years and upon ascendancy to the throne erected this marble structure in her memory. The folkloric love of the Prince and Courtesan remains to be a popular story to this day.

Read more about the love story in this Blog (https://mythologystories.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/salim-anarkali/

Watch the exterior of the tomb here

Other (diverse) Architecture

NOOR MAHAL

The Noor Mahal is a palace in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan. It was built in 1872 as an Italian castle on neoclassical lines by the princely Nawabs state of Bahawalpur, during the British colonial period. The construction of Noor’s Palace was undertaken by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan the Fourth, who was also known as Shan Jahan of Bahawalpur for his passion for constructing beautiful buildings. 

Read in greater detail about Noor Mahal and the Royal Family of Bahwalpur here (https://www.thenews.com.pk/magazine/us/729273-majestic-noor-mahal

Watch more about the Palace here

FRERE HALL

Frere Hall is a building in Karachi, Pakistan, which dates from British colonial times in Sindh. Completed in 1865, Frere Hall was originally intended to serve as a city hall in Karachi, and now serves as an exhibition space and library. It is considered to be one of the most iconic buildings in Karachi. The Frere Hall is located in the colonial-era Saddar town of Karachi, in the Civil Lines District which houses several consulates. The Hall is located between Abdullah Haroon Road (formerly Victoria Road) and Fatima Jinnah Road (formerly Bonus Road). It sits next to the colonial era Sind Club.

Watch the Hall here in greater detail

DERAWAR FORT

Derawar Fort is a large square fortress in Bahawalpur in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The forty strongholds of Derawar can be seen for miles in the Cholistan Desert. The walls are 1,500 m in circumference and rise 30 m high. The first fort on this site was built by the Hindu Rajput Bhati of Jaisalmer. It remained in the hands of the royal family of Jaisalmer until it was captured by the Nawabs of Bahawalpur in 1733. In 1747, the fort was left to the Abbasis due to Bahawak Khan’s problems in Shikarpur. The Nawab Mubarak Khan of Bahawalpur took over the stronghold in 1804. The fort remained associated with the Bahawalpur Royal Family till the creation of Pakistan. 

Read more about the Fort and its surrounding Rohi Desert on the website of UNESCO (https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/6108/

Watch and read more about the historic fort here (https://www.visiotel.com/portfolio-item/derawar-fort/9). 

Islamia College University (University of Peshawar)

This educational institute was one of the earliest in the region and started providing education in arts, humanities and culture in 1913. It has remained in use since then. Watch the presentation made by students here.

LAHORE MUSEUM

The Lahore Museum was founded in 1865 during the British colonial period, and is now one of the most visited museums in Pakistan with a huge collection of artefacts. The museum, along with the Zamzama Cannon located directly in front of the building, was made famous by British author Rudyard Kipling – whose father was one of the museum’s early curators. The museum is now also renowned for its extensive collection of Buddhist art from the Indo-Greek kingdoms and Gandhara.

Get a brief presentation of the Lahore Museum here (https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/the-lahore-museum-lahore-museum/-AICRGk0A4n9Kw?hl=en

Visit the museum on its official website here (https://lahoremuseum.punjab.gov.pk/

Get a detailed visit to the Museum here.

PAKISTAN MONUMENT

The Pakistan Monument is a National Monument and Heritage Museum located on the Western Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. The monument was constructed to symbolise the unity of the Pakistani People. Its elevation makes the monument visible from across the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area and is a popular tourist destination.Covering a total area of 2.8 hectares, the monument is shaped as a blooming flower petal-shaped structure built of granite, with the inner walls of the petals inscribed with the outlines of Lahore Fort, Badshahi (Emperor’s) Mosque, Khyber Pass and Minar-e-Pakistan. The Monument opens onto a marble terrace providing a bird’s-eye view of Islamabad City. The four main petals of the monument represent the four provinces of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh, while the three smaller petals represent the three territories of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and the Tribal Areas. The central platform is made in the shape of a five-pointed star which is surrounded by a water body. A metallic crescent surrounding the star is inscribed with sayings of the Founding Father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and poetry of National Poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. Adjoining the Monument is the Pakistan Monument Museum, which includes a wax museum depicting important events leading to the Pakistan Movement. The complex on average received 1500 tourists per day. From the air the monument looks like a star (center) and a crescent moon (formed by walls forming the petals), these represent the star and crescent on Pakistan’s flag. The foundation stone was laid on 25 May 2004, completed in 2006 and inaugurated on 23 March 2007.

Take a virtual tour of the Museum related to the site here.

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