Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wazir Khan Baradari, Lahore Pakistan


This baradari (literally, 12-door pavilion) originally served as the centerpiece of the Nakhlia Garden built by Wazir Khan, a benefactor of numerous buildings throughout Lahore including the mosque and hammam (bath house) which bear his name. It is among the finest of such monuments in the city, having been incorporated into the grounds of the Punjab Public Library as early as 1860, where it serves as a reading room. During the 19th and early 20th centuries it also served as a museum and as the Settlement and Telegraph Office under the British.

The building is named after its founder Hakim Ilmuddin titled Wazir Khan, the same grandee of Shah Jahan's court who gifted the city of Lahore with such sumptuous monuments as Wazir Khan's Mosque and Wazir Khan's Hammam, also known as Shahi Hammam, in the Walled City.

The chronicles record how Wazir Khan, after having completed his spectacular mosque, turned his attention to laying out a fine garden—a garden which became known as Wazir Khan's Nakhlia Garden because of the large number of date-palm trees. In the middle of the Nakhlia Garden he built an elegant baradari, which has carried his name to this day.

The baradari (lit. twelve openings) was so titled because of a sehdara centre and flanking deeply-inset arched openings or peshtaq on each side of the square, resulting in 12 dars or doorways openings. The two storey pavilion-like structure is dominated by four corner belvedere towers, terminated by sloping chajjas (eaves) and capped by cupolas. It is surrounded by pools on all four sides containing fountains which would have provided misty breeze to its occupants in the hot Lahori summers.

As in the case of Anarkali's tomb, this monument also has undergone extensive alterations having served varied functions: as part of Sikh and British cantonments, as the Settlement and Telegraph office, and also as a museum. Its use as Punjab Public Library, was lauded by Latif: "A nobler aim it could not have served. The founder of the building was himself a patron of learning and a profound scholar, and the association of his name with an institution pregnant with such significant results for the rising generation of the Punjab may be regarded as a happy coincidence."

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