|Havelis of Khushal Singh and Dhian Singh|
These havelis are part of a cluster of
havelis known as Chuna Mandi Havelis, a significant group of
historic buildings in the Walled City. It currently houses the
Government Fatima Jinnah College for Women.
The College building, with its spacious courtyard and Sikh
imagery, sometimes thought to be the famous haveli or Palace of Raja
Dhian Singh, the young Rajput chamberlain of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,
but is more likely to be the Palace of Jamadar Khushal Singh (d.
1844). Khushal Singh was a humble doorkeeper who later rose to the
exalted position of Lord Chamberlain of Ranjit Singh. Khushal Singh
may well have built upon earlier Mughal remains. The large expanse
of the compound and existence of a garden, along with some other
pre-Sikh remains, indicates the existence of a large Mughal mansion.
This could be the palace of Asaf Khan, brother of Empress Noor Jahan
and father-in-law of Shah Jahan. Asaf Khan was an arbiter of taste,
and historical sources credit him with building a luxurious palace
in Lahore which had cost an exorbitant 20 lakhs at the time. Another
haveli in the group, located in the north, also sports a courtyard.
It was built by Teja Singh, nephew of Jamadar Khushal Singh. The
third extant structure, located on the east of the cluster is
considerably smaller in size.
Seeing the magnificent haveli, one can well believe that its
owner must have spent a pretty penny on it. From its sprawling
courtyards to its royal baths and from its arched hallways to its
zenana gardens, the building is breathtakingly beautiful. But,
perhaps what is far more important is that the haveli is as alive
today as it was in its days of glory. Instead of being kept under
lock and key it is being utilized as a college and every corner has
been put to constructive use.