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Jahangir's Tomb (built 1627-37)

The tomb of Jahangir is located in Shahdara, a suburb of Lahore to the northwest of the city. The area had been a favorite spot of Jahangir and his wife Nur Jahan when they resided in Lahore, and the area was commonly used as a point of departure for travels to and from Kashmir and Lahore. When Jahangir died in 1627 he may have initially been buried in Shahdara in one of its many gardens. His son, Shah Jahan, ordered that a mausoleum befitting an Emperor be built as a permanent memorial.

Construction of the mausoleum lasted 10 years, from 1627 to 37, and was probably funded by the imperial treasury (though there is some evidence that Jahangir's wife, Nur Jahan, may have financed the construction). It occupies a vast quadrangle measuring 600 gaz (approximately 500 meters) to a side and is subdivided into four chahar baghs (four-part gardens). A fountain occupies the center of each of the chahar baghs and the avenues in between, creating a ring of 8 fountains around the central tomb. Water for the fountains was supplied by wells outside of the garden and raised into channels atop of the walls using water wheels that are no longer extant. From there, the water flowed through terra cotta pipes and into the fountains, whereupon the water cascaded into shallow channels running throughout the garden.

The mausoleum itself is square in plan and exactly 100 gaz to a side. Except for the four corner minarets the layout is entirely horizontal with a flat roof covering the whole of the structure. It is likely that this derived from the example set by Jahangir's grandfather, Babur, who preferred burial in a tomb open to the sky in keeping with Sunni Islam precident. Both Jahangir and Shah Jahan would have been familiar with Babur's tomb garden in Kabul in which Babur's wishes were carried out--a screen was erected around the grave site but the cenotaph was not roofed over. At Jahangir's tomb, a compromise of sorts was arrived at by raising a roof over the cenotaph but not constructing any monumental embellishments such as domes. This design was apparently not very popular as it was replicated only once for the tomb of Nur Jahan, Jahangir's wife, at her tomb garden also in Shahdara. Shah Jahan himself was buried in the Taj Mahal, a monument renowned for its use of domes as architectural elements.

At the center of the mausoleum is an octagonal tomb chamber about 8 meters in diameter. It is connected to the outside of the tomb by four hallways facing the four cardinal directions. The cenotaph at the center is carved from a single slab of white marble and decorated with pietra dura inlays of the 99 attributes of God. At its foot is an inscription in Persian recording that "This is the illuminated grave of His Majesty, the Asylum of Pardon, Nooruddin Muhammad Jahangir Padshah 1037 AH".

The establishment of Jahangir's tomb at Shahdara profoundly affected the character of the suburb. Whereas previously the area has been used as a place of relaxation, during Shah Jahan's time the suburb was transformed into a monument to the Mughal's imperial rule. This was only strengthened by the construction of a jilau khana (forecourt) to the west of the tomb and the subsequent construction of a tomb to Jahangir's chief minister Asaf Khan to the west. The ensemble reached its peak when Nur Jahan herself was laid to rest in a tomb slightly to the southwest of the other tombs.

Today, the tomb of Jahangir holds special significance for Pakistanis as it is the only Mughal tomb located in present-day Pakistan. Its image appears on the 1,000 rupee banknote and it remains one of Lahore's most popular attractions.

Site Plan

Redrawn and adapted by Timothy M. Ciccone following the article "The Shahdara Gardens of Lahore" by Michael Brand within the book "Mughal Gardens", edited by James L. Wescoat, Jr. and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn. Additional information for the plan derived from "Islamic Gardens and Landscapes" by D. Fairchild Ruggles.

Jahangir Tomb Site Plan

Location

The approximate location of the tomb is 31.622541' N, 74.303215' E (WGS 84 map datum).

Bibliography:

All images copyright 2011 Aown Ali

Khan, Ahmad Nabi. Islamic Architecture of Pakistan: An Analytical Exposition.
  Islamabad: National Hijra Council, 1990.

Khan, Ahmed Nabi and Robert Wheeler. Islamic Architecture in South Asia.
  Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Khan, Muhammad Wali Ullah. Lahore and its Important Monuments.
  Karachi: Department of Archaeology, 1973.

Koch, Ebba. Mughal Architecture
  New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Michell, George (editor). Architecture of the Islamic World: Its history and Social Meaning
  London: Thames and Hudson, 1978.

Muhammad Wali Ulla Khan. Lahore and its Important Monuments
  Karachi: Anjuman Press, 1973.

Mumtaz, Kamil Khan. Architecture in Pakistan.
  Singapore: Concept Media Pte Ltd, 1985.

Rajput, A. B. Architecture in Pakistan
  Karachi: Pakistan Publications, 1963.

Ruggles, D. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes.
  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

Wescoat, James and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn. Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, and Prospects.
  Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1996.


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