Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens - two masterpieces from the time of brilliant Mughal civilization in Pakistan

Baku, May 16, AZERTAC

Located in the city if Lahore, the capital of Pakistani province of Punjab, the Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens are two masterpieces from the time of the brilliant Mughal civilization, which reached its height during the reign of the Emperor Shah Jahan.

More commonly known as Shahi Qila - Lahore Fort is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lahore.

Constructed in 1556 under the reign of Mughal Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, this historical site in Pakistan saw the addition of several structures and buildings over the centuries.

After the fall of the Mughal Empire, the royal fort was inhabited by different rulers – including the founder of Sikh Empire Ranjit Singh and the British colonialists.

Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981 as a cultural and historical asset, the site is also considered by many to be the oldest village or town ever discovered.

The fort contains marble palaces and mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt. The elegance of these splendid gardens, built near the city of Lahore on three terraces with lodges, waterfalls and large ornamental ponds, is unequalled.

The inscribed property includes two distinct royal complexes, the Lahore Fort and the Shalimar Gardens, both located in the City of Lahore, at a distance of 7 km. from each other.

The two complexes – one characterized by monumental structures and the other by extensive water gardens - are outstanding examples of Mughal artistic expression at its height, as it evolved during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Mughal civilisation, a fusion of Islamic, Persian, Hindu and Mongol sources (from whence the name Mughal derives) dominated the Indian subcontinent for several centuries and strongly influenced its subsequent development.

The Lahore Fort, situated in the north-west corner of the Walled City of Lahore, occupies a site which has been occupied for several millenia. Assuming its present configuration during the 11th century, the Fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times by the early Mughals during the 13th to the 15th centuries.

The 21 monuments which survive within its boundaries comprise an outstanding repertory of the forms of Mughal architecture from the reign of Akbar (1542-1605), characterized by standardized masonry of baked brick and red sandstone courses relieved by Hindu motifs including zooomorphic corbels, through that of Shah Jahan (1627-58), characterized by the use of luxurious marbles, inlays of precious materials and mosaics, set within exuberant decorative motifs of Persian origins.

The Shalimar Gardens, constructed by Shah Jahan in 1641-2 is a Mughal garden, layering Persian influences over medieval Islamic garden traditions, and bearing witness to the apogee of Mughal artistic expression. The Mughal garden is characterized by enclosing walls, a rectilinear layout of paths and features, and large expanses of flowing water.

The design of the monuments of Lahore Fort and the features of the Shalimar Gardens bears a unique and exceptional testimony to the Mughal civilisation at the height of its artistic and aesthetic accomplishments, in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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