Kos Minar

The Kos Minars are the milestones made by the Mughal emperors between 1556 to 1707 AD. "Kos" literally means a medieval measurement of distance denoting approximately 3 km and "Minar" is a Persian word for tower. The Kos Minars measure over 30 feet in height and were once erected by the Mughals marking their royal route from Agra to Ajmer via Jaipur in the west, from Agra to Lahore via Delhi in the north and from Agra to Mandu via Shivpuri in the south. Modern highways have come up much along the same route as the one delineated by the Kos Minars. Abul Fazl recorded in Akbar Nama that in the year 1575 AD, Akbar issued an order that at every Kos on the way from Agra to Ajmer, a pillar or a minar should be erected for the comfort of the travelers. So that the travelers who had lost their way might have a mark and a place to rest. It is believed that Akbar derived inspiration to build Kos Minars from his predecessor, Sher Shah, who built many roads and repaired and revived the ancient route of the Mauryas henceforth termed the Sher Shah Suri Marg or the Grad trunk Road.

This Kos Minar in Lahore is located in close proximity to Ali Mardan Khan's Tomb and probably lined the original G.T. Road, a few hundred meters north of it.

The Kos Minar is a solid round pillar that stands on a masonry platform built with bricks and plastered over with lime. Kos Minars became an institution during the rule of the Mughals that after Akbar, emperor Jahangir and Shah Jahan, both added to the existing network of Kos Minars. In the north they were extended as far as Peshawar and in the east to Bengal via Kanauj. The geographic span makes for nearly three thousand kilometers of Mughal highways, accounting for nearly 1000 Kos Minars, i.e., 1 every Kos or 3 km. there is no record as to how many of them have survived. The Kos Minars are never looked at as architecturally impressive structures. It is only when we view them in the totality of a much larger design that their real significance emerges.

The Kos Minars proved critical in the governance, as there was a horse, a rider, and a drummer posted at every Kos Minar and royal messages were relayed back and forth with great speed. Some historians believe that the Kos Minars were principally made to facilitate transportation and not communications. Those were the days when the Mughal emperors traveled on elephant back, in a royal entourage that included more than a thousand people consisting of bodyguards, personal retainers, tent erectors, cooks, foot soldiers and cavalry.

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