Jahangir's Tomb

Emperor Jahangir was buried according to his last wish: in Lahore, in Noor Jahan's old pleasure garden known as Dilkusha Garden. The mausoleum is located at Shahdara on the banks of the Ravi, three miles northwest of the city.  The east gateway in the Akbar/Jahangir serai quadrangle, with its tall Timurid aiwan, leads into an enormous garden 1540'x1540', in the centre of which stands the magnificent sepulcher of Jahangir, considered by some to be the "finest ornament of Lahore," and the "most magnificent edifice in the subcontinent after the Taj and the Qutub."

Although contemporary court accounts credit Shah Jahan with the building of his father's tomb, it is more likely to have been the result of Noor Jahan's vision. The empress was a great patron of architecture, having built several buildings and gardens. She designed her husband's tomb in 1627, taking as model her parents' burial place, the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daula in Agra. She also became a permanent resident of Lahore after her husband's death, and was thus in a position to influence the design and construction of the monument. Dilkusha Garden, which according to his own wish became the resting place of Jahangir, was owned by none other than the empress herself. In all fairness to Shah Jahan, though, no expense was spared. The monument, which was ten years in building, cost Rupees 10 lakhs.

The setting of the chahar bagh rauza (paradise garden mausoleum) is skillfully accomplished. Its four parterres are subdivided into sixteen divisions by means of a brick geometric pavement flanking narrow water channels and every intersection is marked by an alternate octagonal and square talab (tank).

A takhtgah mausoleum—it is placed on an enormous takht or podium—is a square single storey structure, its arcading of the ambulatory verandah of the inner sanctuary being a dominant feature. A 100' high tower capped by a marble cupola stands guard at each corner, while the centre of each of its 267' sides is accented by a slightly projecting peshtaq alcove. The minarets are inlaid with zigzag bands of variegate marble and magnificent blocks of yellow stone.

The combination of red Sikri stone and white marble, an arrangement echoing Humayun's tomb in Delhi, and a rare treat for Lahore not least for its intricate inlay, is impressive in its finesse and sophistication. Where the external expression is restrained in its dignified simplicity, internally decorative surfaces present you the best of tile mosaic and fresco that made Lahore famous in the whole of the Mughal Empire.

As you enter the passage from the west which leads to the marqad (grave/tombstone), a riot of scintillating tile mosaic and decorative fresco, among the best specimens that Lahore has to offer, overwhelms the visitor—not an inch is left unembellished, whether floor, walls or the ceiling. The inner sanctuary is screened by a panel of fine marble beehive fretwork. The sarcophagus itself presents a pristine picture of the finest Mughal pietra dura—an interlaced pattern and calligraphic tour de force in marble, inlaid with semi-precious stones.

Here lies the emperor, who was considered "one of the mightiest Princes in Asia" by Thomas Roe, the first English ambassador to the Mughal court. Among the most powerful in the world, rather than the din of war, Jahangir enjoyed the pleasurable pursuits of feasts and entertainments, reveling in the company of poets and singers.

The enjoyment of Jahangir's aesthete in gardens, lakes and rivers, flora and fauna, is evident from the innumerable studies that he commissioned of his favourite animals and a multitude of rare flowers from artists of such eminence as Listad Mansur (or Mansur Naqqash, as he is also known). An enlightened connoisseur, his emissaries roamed the world for rare manuscripts and paintings for the royal library. His own memoirs, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri or the Jahangirnama along with memoirs of his great-grandfather Babur, ranks among the best of its genre. In contrast to the formal accounts by court historians regarding other emperors, the tuzuk is expressive of Jahangir's innermost thoughts, which includes ovation for his wife Noor Jahan in no uncertain terms.

The design of the sanctuary respected the wish of the emperor, echoing the desire of his great grandfather Babur, that his grave should be erected in a manner that "rain and dew of heaven might fall on it."

Although there is little truth in the 19th century theory that the Sikhs removed a pavilion which formed the second storey over the sanctuary, the sepulcher did suffer from the vandalism of Lahna Singh and Ranjit Singh. Further damage was caused to the structure, when it was utilized as residence by Ranjit Singh's French officer Mr. Amise, as well as by Sultan Muhammad Khan, brother of Dost Muhammad Khan of Afghanistan.

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