Zafar Jang Kokaltash's Tomb

To reach the tomb of Khan-e-Jahan Bahadur Zafar Jang Kokaltash, you should proceed south on Shalimar Link Road from G.T. Road. You will need to turn right (west) into Canal Bank Road. As you drive along the pleasant bank of the canal, Bahadur Zafar Jang's tomb will appear on your right beyond the canal. Making a 'U' turn on the bridge you will need to travel east for a little distance along the opposite side of the canal, before you can take a sharp left turn on a road that slopes down from Khayaban-e-Anne Marie Schimmel (Canal Bank Road).

On your right stands one of the finest brickwork structures of the Mughal Period in Lahore—the magnificent brick tomb of Zafar Jang Kokaltash on a raised podium following the octagonal plan form of the tomb. Although bereft of its facing, its beautiful, well detailed brick masonry lends it a character entirely its own. The division of wall surface in a pattern of sunken panels would have lent itself admirably to treatment with fresco painting and possibly even tile mosaic.

Its 32' diameter dome, raised on a drum, is reminiscent more of the dome form utilized in the tomb of Anarkali, rather than those of other nobles such as Ali Mardan Khan or Asaf Khan.

The tomb's eight sides are punctured with alcoves consisting of Timurid peshtac openings, roofed with kalib kari (stalactite or muqarnas) squinches. A 5' high and 32' wide podium, encircles the tomb, and is in a fair state of preservation. Some of the original fine brick paving laid in geometric patterns, which you might like to examine on the northeast portion of the podium, is still extant.

Writing at the end of the 19th century, historian Latif notes the existence of turrets with cupolas; however, those are no longer to be seen. The marble that once embellished the dome's surface has also been lost—possibly during Ranjit Singh's reign. In view of the popularity of funerary gardens among the Mughals, no doubt the tomb once stood in a large garden, the extent of which is no longer possible to determine.

In view of its easy accessibility from Mian Mir Cantonment, during the early British period the tomb was considered eminently suitable for entertainment activities and served as a theatre! However, later when railway authorities took over the area, once part of a historic quarter known as Mohallah Ganj, the tomb was put to a debased function of a railway storehouse. Over the years, one side of the structure collapsed completely and is now replaced by an ugly pillar of unpainted bricks that appears out of place.

Khan-e-Jahan Bahadur Zafar Jang Kokaltash was a high ranking officer during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamigir. His original name Mir Malik Husain and he was Aurungzeb’s foster brother and a noble in the imperial court. Mir Malik Hussain led an intriguing life aside the Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. In 1673, he was appointed the governor of Deccan. He rebuilt the fortress of Surat to fight against Shivaji. He was a leading figure in Aurangzeb's endeavours to consolidate his territory. In recognition of that in 1674, Aurangzeb gave him the title of Khan-e-Jahan Bahadur Zafar Jang Kokaltash Khan and raised his rank from 700 horses to 7000 horses. In 1691, Khan-e-Jahan was appointed governor of Allahabad. In the same year he also served as governor of Punjab. However, near the end of his reign, Aurangzeb is said to be disappointed in him because of his failure to win an important battle against the warring Marathas, from whom Khan is reported to have received bribes. As he result, he was dismissed from office of Punjab in 1693.

A quiet man by nature, Kokaltash Khan was regarded as an intellectual of the imperial court and is widely believed to have written a history of Assam titled “Tarikh-i-Assam”. He died four years later on November 23, 1697 and was buried in a fine mausoleum fit for a noble.

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