Lahore’s Chauburji- The Garden of Paradise
I am very fond of historic places since my childhood. I remembered when I was a kid, I asked my brother while crossing the Multan road, what is the significance of Chauburji. He replied did you see the Lahore fort? I said, yes. He said the Lahore Fort was the home of Mughals and Chauburji was their bathroom. I astonishingly replied, how can it be possible? The distance between the fort and Chauburji is huge. The Brother replied O come ‘on! They had horses. It was definitely a joke but not for me.
There are definitely so many people out there who do not have any idea about these four minars, their history and significance. Let me tell you the brief history about it.
Lahore, which is also called the garden city, is rich in culture and heritage of Mughals. There are so many proper buildings of Mughal architect in Lahore like Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Tomb of Jahangir, Shalimar gardens etc. But I always wonder about the existence of Chauburji, because these four minars stands alone at the intersection of two roads which is a roundabout of Multan and Bahawalpur road. When you go throw from the history of Chauburji you will come to know that these minars was the gateway of large pleasure gardens which are now totally disappeared. The word Chauburji is the mixture of two words, Chau means four and Burj means towers.
The history is ambiguous about who constructed it. It is said that the gardens were built in the reign of Shahjahan (the fifth Mughal emperor), by a lady mentioned metaphorically as “Sahib-e-Zebinda, Begum-e-Dauran”
An inscription on the Chauburji gives the date of 1646 AD (1056 AH) when the gardens were created. The history is ambiguous about who constructed it. It is said that the gardens were built in the reign of Shahjahan (the fifth Mughal emperor), by a lady mentioned metaphorically as “Sahib-e-Zebinda, Begum-e-Dauran” (the lady of the age). The lady referred to is probably Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Shahjahan.
There is another inscription about this monument that it was built in the 17th century for the daughter of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. Her name was Zeb-un-Nisa. The gardens were later gifted to the Mian Bai. Mian Bai was the servant of Zeb-un-Nisa. This inscription can be proved wrong because when the gardens were created Zeb-un-Nisa was only eight years old child, as she born in 1639.
So this history is a mystery which will remain a mystery. We cannot do anything for history but there are some our obligations towards its present. We should and we have to protect our cultural heritage. These are the amazing masterpieces of Mughal emperor architect which are the assets of our ancestors.
Let’s have a deep look into these architectural details of this beautiful monument. Its unique feature is that the minars of this building expands from the top. This feature makes this building an exceptional case in the whole sub-continent. The gate is fully decorated with Kashi kari work. The kashi kari (mosaic work) of Chauburji is among the finest examples of its kind. The front of this gateway is fully decorated with green and blue tiles.
This look resembles it with the entrance of Masjid Wazir Khan. On the top of the building, you can see some verses of the Quran which is Ayat-ul-kursi. If you look closely you will find some Calligraphy and Persian quotes. With the passage of time, negligence and lack of maintenance most of writings are fading away. Red brickwork can also be seen in this building. Red bricks work is the speciality of Mughal era buildings. You will find these bricks work in every sub-continent building of this era.
By the 19th century, during the earthquake of 1846, the Chauburji lost its northwest tower. In the 1960s, the Department of Archaeology reconstructed the damaged minar.
In 2018, we were about to lose this old gem, because of the construction of the orange line metro train. Mainly this duty is on the government to restore and preserve these monuments but on the other hand, it’s our duty too, to clean these sites and made them hostable enough to attract tourism. Unfortunately, this outstanding artistry has now become a heap of garbage. Its walls are rusted now, the beauty has faded away. This has become a shelter home for drugs addict now. You will see so many phone numbers and names on the walls of historic buildings. Where are our ethics gone?