Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Exploring the Shahi Qila Lahore Fort: The Legacy of Lahore’s Royalty

Lahore Fort, also known as Shahi Qila, is a magnificent citadel situated in the heart of Lahore, Pakistan. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city. Lahore Fort is a testament to the grandeur and opulence of the Mughal Empire, as it was once the seat of power for Mughal rulers in the region.

Location of Lahore Fort

Shahi Qila Lahore Fort is located in the northern part of the old walled city of Lahore. The Alamgiri Gate of the fort is part of a series of buildings, which together with the Badshahi Mosque, the Roshnai Gate, and the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, form a quadrangle around Hazuri Bagh. Minar-e-Pakistan and Iqbal Park are adjacent to the northern border of the fort.

Shahi Qila History

The Lahore Fort was originally constructed in the 11th century by the Hindu Rajput ruler, Anangpal Tomar. However, it was rebuilt and expanded during the Mughal era under the supervision of Emperor Akbar. The fort’s construction continued through the reigns of subsequent Mughal rulers, including Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb.

The sculptures of the Shah Jahan period are characterized by elaborate marble ornaments with Persian floral designs, while the Alamgiri Fortress and the magnificent castle were erected by the last of the great Mughal emperors, Aurangzeb, and overlooking the famous Badshahi Mosque. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

After the fall of the Mughal Empire, Shahi Qila Lahore Fort was used as the residence of Emperor Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire. The Sikhs made several additions to the fort. It then took control of the East India Company after taking over the Punjab following their Sikh conquest of the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849. In 1981, the fort was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “spectacular” game of Mughal monuments dating back to the time when the empire was in power high of art and beauty.

The Alamgiri Gate of the fort is part of a series of buildings, which together with the Badshahi Mosque, the Roshnai Gate, and the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, form a quadrangle around Hazuri BaghMinar-e-Pakistan and Iqbal Park are adjacent to the northern border of the fort.

Shahi Qila Lahore Fort Area

Shahi Qila Lahore fort is spread over an area of 20 hectares and is surrounded by a 2.5-kilometer-long wall. The fort complex includes several palaces, gardens, mosques, and administrative buildings, each of which reflects the Mughal architectural style. One of the most notable structures within the complex is the Sheesh Mahal, a stunning palace made entirely of glass. The palace features intricate mirror work, and its walls and ceilings are decorated with colorful frescoes and paintings. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Shahi Qila Lahore Fort - Facts & History

Although the area is known to have been inhabited for thousands of years, the origin of Shahi Qila Lahore Fort is unclear and is traditionally based on various myths.

Delhi Sultanate

The first history of the castle in this area dates back to the 11th century during the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni. Shahi Qila Lahore fort was built of mud and was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols when they invaded Lahore. A new fort was built in 1267 on the site by Sultan Balban of the Turkic Mamluk dynasty of Delhi Sultanate. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

The rebuilt fort was demolished in 1398 by the invading forces in Timur, rebuilt by Mubarak Shah Sayyid in 1421, 1430s, and the fort taken by Shaikh Ali of Kabul and remained under the control of the Pastun dynasty of the Lodi dynasty until Lahore was captured by Mughal Emperor Babur in 1526. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Mughal Period

1. Akbar Time

The current design and structure of the Sahi Qila Lahore Fort trace its origins to 1575 when the Mughal Emperor Akbar took over as the post office of the northwestern border. The ideal location of Lahore, between the Mughal territories and the fortresses of Kabul, Multan, and Kashmir necessitated the demolition of the old mud tower and the solidity of solid bricks. Over time, palaces were built, as well as green gardens. Notable buildings of the Akbar period include Doulat Khana-e-Khas-o-Am, Jharoka-e-Darshan, and the Akbari Gate. Many of Akbari’s buildings were altered or replaced by subsequent emperors.

2. Jahangir Time

Emperor Jahangir first mentions his transformation of the castle in 1612 when he described the Maktab Khana. Jahangir also added the Kala Burj stadium, with European inspired angels on its closed roof. British tourists visiting the castle commented on Christian paintings during the Jahangir period, and statues of Madonna and Jesus found in the castle palace. In 1606, Guru Arjan of the Sikh faith was imprisoned in a fortress before his death.

Jahangir provided a large Photo Wall, a 1,450-meter (440 m) and 50-meter (15 m) wall beautifully decorated with glittering chain of polished tiles, faience mosaics, and frescoes. Among the spandrils, large arched panels below the Khanggah of Jahangir (Imperial Bedchamber) are azdahas or winged dragons from ancient Persian mythology, portraits of angels holding cups, herons, cranes, and other flying birds. 

Many of the scenes shown in this ‘Photo Wall’ depict the court life of the Mughal kings, their games and their hobbies. One of the main panels shows four horse riders playing a popular chaughan game, today known as the polo. Outstanding are those related to elephant fighting, which was one of Mughal’s favorite court games. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

The Mariam Zamani Begum Mosque was built near the fortresses of the eastern walls during the reign of Jahangir. Although the mosque may have functioned as a Friday church council for members of the Royal Court, it was not sponsored by Jahangir, although it may have required his approval. The foundation of the mosque was laid by Empress Mariam-uz-Zamani in 1611 and construction was completed at the behest of her son Jahangir in his honor.

3. Shah Jahan Time

Shah Jahan’s first contribution to the Sahi Qila Lahore Fort began in the year of his inauguration, 1628, and it continued until 1645. Shah Jahan began dictating the construction of Diwan-i-Aam. Although the construction of Shah Burj began under Jahangir, Shah Jahan disliked its formation and appointed Asif Khan to oversee the reconstruction.

Shah Jahan’s Shah Burj made a quadrangle with the famous Sheesh Mahal, as well as the Naulakha Pavilion. Both are attributed to Shah Jahan, although the Naulakha Pavilion may be a later addition to the Sikh era. The white marble Moti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, also dates from the Shah Jahan period. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

4. Aurangzeb Time

Emperor Aurangzeb, built the Alamgiri Gate, with circular towers and dominated pearls is a well-known Lahore symbol once exhibited with Pakistani currency.

Sikh Rule

The Mughals lost the Shahi Qila Lahore fort because of the Afghan Durranis, who also briefly lost to the Maratha forces before being taken over by the Durrani. Sahi Qila Lahore fort was then captured by Bhangi Misl – one of the 12 Sikh Misls of Punjab who ruled Lahore from 1767 to 1799. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Ranjit Singh's time

The fort fell to Ranjit Singh‘s army, which took over Lahore at Bank Misl in 1799. During their stay at Shahi Qila Lahore fort, the Sikhs made many additions to the fort and also restored parts of it for their own use. The famous garden of Hazuri Bagh and its central baradar were built during the Sikh rule to celebrate the capture of the Maharaja of Koh-i-Noor diamonds.

Ranjit Singh used the Summer Castle as his residence, while the Moti masjid was re-used as a Gurdwara called the Moti mandir, and later used as a royal monument. The Sehdari pavilion, or “three-door house”, was added to the castle during this period, as did the Ath dara or “eight-door house”. The Naag Temple and the Loh Temple were also built during the Sikh period, while Mai Jindan Haveli was radically altered. Kharak Singh Haveli has also been added. The outer wall of the north tower, corresponding to the wall of the statues, was built during this period.

The Diwan-i-Aam castle was demolished in 1841 when Ranjit Singh’s son Sher Singh attacked the fort in his battle with Chand Kaur. The eldest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successor, Kharak Singh was born in a castle to his wife, Maharani Datar Kaur. Ranjit Singh’s youngest son, Maharaja Duleep Singh was born in the castle Mai Jindan Haveli in 1838. Duleep Singh had signed the Treaty of Bhyroval in 1847 which abolished the Sikh empire. The castle and the city remained under the family of Ranjit Singh until the fall of the Sikh Empire in 1849.


Modern Time

Excavations in 1959 in front of Diwan-i-Am led to the discovery of a gold coin dated 1025 CE by Mahmud Ghaznavi. The coin was excavated at a depth of 25 feet [7.6 m] from the grass. Cultures descended to a depth of 15 feet [4.6 m] indicating that the fortress was inhabited even before his conquest. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

During the demolition of the dilapidated floor of the Akbari Gate in April 2007, a three-story excavation of the British, Sikh, and Mughal tombs was excavated. The floor of the British, Sikh and Mughal times was made of bricks, baked bricks and stones respectively. The latter built in the time of Jahangir or Shah Jahan was a symbol of the Mughals.

Architecture of Lahore Fort

The castle is divided into two sections: first, the administrative division, which is well connected with the main departments, and includes gardens and the Diwan-e-Khas royal audience. Second, the private and hidden residence is separated by northern courts and is accessible by the ivory gate. It also contains the Sheesh Mahal, spacious bedrooms and small gardens. 

The outer walls are decorated with green Persian Kashi tiles. The first entrance is towards the Maryam Zamani Mosque and the main Alamgiri gate opens towards Hazuri Bagh via the magnificent Badshahi mosque. The influence of Hindu buildings is reflected in the zoomorphic corbels. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Naulakha Pavilion

The Naulakha Pavilion is a visual representation of the Lahore Fort built in 1633 during the Shah Jahan built of bright white marble, and is known for its distinctive curvilinear roof. It cost about 900,000 rupees, the most expensive of which at the time. The building derives its name from the Urdu word 900,000, Naulakha. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

The Naulakha Pavilion served as a private room and was located west of the Sheesh Mahal, in the northern part of the castle. The stadium has served as an inspiration to Rudyard Kipling, who named his Vermont home Naulakha in honor of the stadium.

The building was originally adorned with precious stones and almost precious stones. It reflects a mixture of modern culture during its construction, with a sloping roof based on Bengali style, and a European baldachin, making it clear the functioning of the state and the religious function of the arena. The marble pavilion shades are covered with merlons to hide the look for no reason. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Picture Wall

Emperor Jahangir ordered the erection of a huge “Statue Wall,” considered to be the great artistic victory of the fortress of Lahore. Unlike Red Fort and Agra Fort, the walls of Lahore Fort were made of brick rather than red stone. of polished tiles, faience mosaics, and frescoes.

The ornate wall extends over most of the castle’s north-west walls and measures approximately 1,450 feet (440 m) and 15 feet (15 m). The wall consists of 116 panels, featuring dozens of themes, including elephant wrestling, angels, and polo games that do not create a cohesive narrative; each can be viewed individually. Although it originated under Jahangir, the Wall of Decoration was adorned in the 1620s, and may have been completed under the rule of his son, Shah Jahan. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

The Image Wall was neglected and suffered from damage and damage. The conservation activities on site started in 2015 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Walled City of Lahore Authority, which co-founded and restored other Lahore local landmarks such as the Wazir Khan Mosque and Shahi Hammam. Detailed wall art using a 3D scanner was completed in July 2016, [38] after which conservation work will begin.

Sheesh Mahal

The Sheesh Mahal (“Palace of Mirrors”) is located inside the block of Jahangir’s Shah Burj on the northwest corner of Lahore Fort. It was built under the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631-32 by Mirza Ghiyas Begh, the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, and the father of Nur Jahan. The whitewashed marble walls are adorned with elaborate paintings and are intricately woven into the pietra dura and intricate mirrors called Āina-kāri. It is one of the most famous monuments of Lahore Fort and forms a jewel in the castle crown. Shah Jahani’s distinctive style is reflected in the wide use of white marble, as well as the pronunciation of the sections of the building. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Sheesh Mahal was reserved for use by the royal family and close aides. During the Sikh Empire, Shah Burj became the favorite place of Ranjit Singh, who built a women’s house over the Sheesh Mahal. This was also the place where he would display his precious property, Koh-i-Noor. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Summer Palace

It is located directly under the Sheesh Mahal and the Shah Burj quadrangle Summer Palace, also known as the Pari Mahal, or “Legendary Palace.” The palace is a labyrinth of rooms dating back to the time of Shah Jahan. They were used as a shelter during the hot months, as they were cooled by efficient ventilation systems that allowed cool air into the palace. The palace flooring system also helped to cool the area – its floor was made up of two layers separated by a layer of water pumped into the Ravi River. The cool, fragrant water of the roses flowed through the masterpieces of 42 waterfalls and sculptures throughout the palace.

The palace was historically accessible from the upper Sheesh Mahal, or a new British-built entrance near Hathi Pul, or “Elephant Stairs. for years Existing tunnels exist and lead from the castle to the outside of the castle where the Ravi River once flowed, suggesting that it may have been part of an escape tunnel designed to allow passengers to flee in the event of an attack.

Summer Palace was always used during the Sikh era under the rule of Ranjit Singh. After the defeat of the Sikh empire in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, it fell into the hands of the East India Company and in 1858, into the hands of the British Raj, with its appointed ambassadors and officers. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Beginning with World War II, the Summer Palace served as a repository for the British Civil Defense Department, and it continued to be used in Pakistan until 1973. The integrity of the structure of this building is influenced by its use as a storage area. Since 2014, the Walled City of Lahore Authority has taken control of the space to carry out restoration activities with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. After its restoration, the space will be housed in the Lahore Fort Museum. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort


Āth darā, the eight-story high court, was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh for use as his court. It is located near the gate of the Shah Burj quadrangle and shares a wall with it. The building is made of marble and red sand. The ceiling is adorned with colorful mirror work, and Kangra style paintings depict Krishna present on the interior walls.

Khilwat Khana

Khilwat Khana was built by Shah Jahan in 1633 east of the Shah Burj Pavilion, and west of the Shah Jahan Quadrangle. It was the seat of royal ladies. The plinth and door doors are made of marble with a curvilinear roof. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Kala (Black) Burj

On the northwest corner of the Khilawat Khana lies the Kala Burj (“Black Pavilion”). The pavilion is an important addition to the Jahangir period additions at Lahore Fort. The ceiling in the courtyard depicts the style of angels inspired by the people of Europe depicting the beauty of King Solomon, who is considered a worthy ruler in the Qur’an, and the emperor Jahangir identified by him. The angels directing the djinns are also painted on the roof tiles, which also refer to King Solomon. Kala Burj was used as a summer stadium.

Lal (Red) Burj

On the northeast corner of the Khilawat Khana lies Lal Burj (“Red Pavilion”). Like the nearby Kala Burj, Lal Burj was built during the reign of Jahangir, although it was completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Octagonal ready, Lal Burj was used as a summer stadium venue. Installs main windows open to the north to catch cool air. Internal frescoes originated mainly during the Sikh period, with all the high quality added during the Sikh period.

Shah Jahan Quadrangle

The collection of buildings around the quadrangle between Jahangir’s Quadrangle and Khilawat Khana is called Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort


Unlike Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas served as a hall for the Emperor to oversee state affairs, and for the reception of government officials and guests. The hall was the scene of numerous exhibitions, with marches one hour before each audience program.

Shah Jahan Khwabgah

Khwabgah was Shah Jahan’s bedroom. It was built by Shah Jahan under the direction of Wazir Khan in 1634 during his first visit to the city. Five bedrooms aligned in one row. The rooms are fitted with carved marble sculptures and are adorned with white marble adorned with carved statues. At present, its ornaments have disappeared without a trace of marble that may have adorned the facade. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Jahangir Quadrangle

Jahangir’s Quadrangle sits on the northeast corner of the fort. Although called Jahangir, construction of the site began during the reign of Akbar but was completed in 1620 under Jahangir. Akbar’s alignment style is noted in the quadrangle, as it uses column-shaped brackets. The structure of the quadrangle differs from other Mughal quadrangans based on the Persian paradise garden structure and is instead built on vertical rectangles with a spring in the center. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort


Diwan-i-Aam was built by Shah Jahan in 1628 at a prominent fortress south of Jahangir Quadrangle. Built in the style of Chehel Sotoun – a community hall with 40 pillars of Persian style, in the style of Diwan-i-Aam at Agra Fort. Diwan-i-Aam was used as a royal hall to hold audiences and ordinary people. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

Shah Jahan’s Diwan-i-Aam was destroyed in 1841 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Sher Singh attacked the fort in his battle with Maharani Chand Kaur, the wife of Maharaja Kharak Singh. The present building was built by the British in 1849 after their conquest of the Sikhs.

Over the years, Lahore Fort has undergone several renovations and restorations to preserve its historical significance and architectural beauty. Today, the fort is open to visitors, who can explore its magnificent structures, learn about its history and significance, and witness the stunning views of Lahore from its ramparts. Shahi Qila Lahore Fort

In conclusion, Lahore Fort is a testament to the Mughal Empire’s architectural and cultural legacy. Its magnificent structures, intricate decorations, and stunning views make it an essential destination for tourists and history enthusiasts visiting Lahore. The fort serves as a reminder of the region’s rich history and its enduring cultural heritage.

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