Akbari Serai, Lahore, Pakistan


The Akbari Sarai is a large saray located in Shahdara Bagh in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It was constructed during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

The name can be translated as "Palace of Akbar". The complex is situated between the tombs of Jahangir and Asif Khan. Abdul Hamid Lahori, who was the court historian of the Emperor Shah Jahan, mentioned the building under the name Jilu Khana-e-Rauza, which means "attached court of the tomb", in his book the Padshahnama.
Maharajah Ranjit Singh converted the complex into a cantonment of one of his foreign generals, Musa Farangi, who used to live here with his platoon.
The Akbari Sarai, along with the Tombs of Jahangir and Asif Khan, are on the tentative list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The open courtyard of the complex is flanked on all sides by a raised terrace where rows of 180 cells are located with a veranda and a common open passage. The corners of the palace are graced by towers.
The palace has two large gateways in the Mughal style, located to the north and to the south. These gates are decorated with frescoes and ghalib kari. The decorative elements, the style of the structure, and the size of the bricks indicate that the palace and the gateways to the tomb could have been constructed at the same time. Apparently parts of a single building complex during Shah Jahan's reign, the palace as indicated by its name was meant for the guards and also as an accommodation for the maintenance staff.
To the west of the palace in the middle of the cell rows is a mosque with three domes. It is clad in red sandstone with decorations. The interior of the mosque was probably once embellished with frescoes andghalib kari too.

 Serai is an 470 by 365 meter courtyard situated between Jahangir's Tomb to the east and Asaf Khan's tomb to the west. Although commonly referred to as a Serai, or caravan market, the courtyard was intended both as a staging area for official visits to the tomb and as a place of residence for the huffaz (caretakers) who worked at the mausoleums. The 180 hujra, or cells, around the courtyard were used as living areas and storage spaces for luggage, weapons, and other gear carried by visitors to the tombs. Its function and general design is similar to the jilaukhana (literally, 'front of the house') found at the Taj Mahal built by Jahangir's son, Shah Jehan.

The most impressive feature of the courtyard is the gateway on its east side leading to Jahangir's mausoleum. Opposite the gateway is a small mosque. The north and south ends of the courtyard are punctuated with gateways providing access to the whole ensemble.









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